Private Elementary Schools & Giving Back

PATH Lunch

It would be an understatement to say that this is the year to give back to our communities.  With the economy still struggling, the need for anyone who is in a position to give back is more important than ever. Private elementary schools (like many public schools) are, for the most part, very generous when it comes to charitable giving and community service.

PATH Toiletries

My favorite community service program at The Willows School has always been the P.A.T.H program (People Assisting The Homeless). Every week, my kids and I make an extra home lunch in a brown bag (provided by the school) to give to the P.A.T.H program (Wednesdays at our school is home lunch day). These homemade lunches are comprised of whatever my kids are eating. One week it’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The next week, it might be turkey and cheese sandwiches. Our lunches always include something healthy and something yummy, along with a drink. The lunches are organized by Willows students and picked up by P.A.T.H. For the holidays, the school asked each student to put together a large ziplock bag of travel sized toiletries for P.A.T.H families who need these essentials. It’s simple, easy and meaningful.

Willows families recently served meals at the Westside P.A.T.H location, a wonderful way to continue giving through the holiday season.

This is only one of several excellent community service programs at The Willows School. They are all needed now, more than ever. I make sure my kids understand how important this work is to families they may never meet, but who will be very grateful for their efforts.

Guest Blogger Jenna: Buckley School Mom Weighs In On “Perfect Mommy Syndrome" In LA Private Elementary Schools

Guest Blogger: Jenna

I’m the mom of an athletic 8-year old boy who attends The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks. Our school is one that some parents may consider to be little more than an expensive, swanky, elite private school. It has a reputation as a school filled with wealthy, untouchable “perfect moms”.  It definitely has those moms. But it also has moms who are warm, wonderful, down-to-earth and funny. I’m very involved in my son’s school. This year, I’m excited to serve as chair of the Buckley Fair. I’m working with a great group of parents on this big event (the Fair is in May and open to the families in the community). I can honestly say that no matter what school your child attends (or ends up at), you will find every type of mom there. We love Buckley! However, I steer clear of the moms I find to be too judgmental, too difficult to volunteer with or those who only speak to their “BFFs”.

It’s you who must make your way at the private elementary school you choose. Each of us has a unique personality, some more driven by insecurities than others. For example, those moms who live vicariously through their children’s experiences. The great thing is that we each have the opportunity to express our individuality. I wonder if, as private school moms, we lose sight of that. Have we become clones of each other? Same clothes, hair, car, jewelry? What then is it we are truly calling our own?
As parents, we are our children’s first and best role models. There is no such thing as a “perfect mommy”. Striving for perfection sends the wrong message to our kids. It’s not an attainable goal for us, or them. The closest we can come to perfection is meeting our own expectations. That is what really matters. We can’t get stuck on someone else’s version of what perfection is—or should be—for us, or our kids.
Women have an amazing ability to bring out the best in each other. But, sometimes we are sadly the ones who viciously attack each other. At private schools, volunteer projects can turn into ugly, bitter squabbles. But why? At what point do we begin to accept each other for who we are, similarities or differences? At what point do we rise up and become real women? Women of compassion, acceptance, guidance, forgiveness and gratitude are the women we should look to for inspiration. These are the women and moms who don’t pass judgment on each other. Instead, they nurture, guide and teach us the mysteries of life. I hope we are all lucky enough to know at least one of these amazing moms.  If we are too busy worrying about everyone else, we will be too checked-out to hear these messages. What will our kids hear and absorb?
I was intrigued by the guest blogger Jenny Heitz’ piece on “Perfect Mommy Syndrome At LA Private Elementary Schools” and actress Mayim Bialik’s response. Christina’s response with her own very personal story got me thinking about my son’s delivery and the pressure on moms to be perfect. My birth story couldn’t be further from Mayim’s or Supermodel Gisele’s. After laboring at home for 30 hours, with no forward progression, I decided it was time to head for the hospital. Once there, I had to be induced and the contractions began at an intense rate. I am not ashamed to tell you that I asked for pain relief from the most painful thing my body has ever endured. After 40 hours of labor, I delivered a healthy baby boy. It wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t painless. In some ways, I feel a bit betrayed by my fellow moms who never told me how difficult and painful labor could be.
I didn’t breastfeed. My milk never came in. Formula was my choice to feed my newborn baby. What would I have done if breastfeeding were required by law as Supermodel Gisele recommended?
We have an opportunity to embrace our own differences and attributes. Too often we choose to pass harsh judgment on each other. LA private schools can be a perfect breeding ground for this type of behavior. As private school moms, I truly believe we should celebrate our differences and those of our children. Let’s embrace each other as moms!
Jenna and her husband are the parents of an 8-year old son who attends The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks. She is current working on a Blog and a book tentatively called, “The Power Of Going Goddess”.

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LA Private Elementary School Moms: What We LOVE About Our Kids’ Schools!

My 2nd Grade Son’s Willows School Art Project

“They don’t miss a thing…this school really knows each child.”
– Jenny, John Thomas Dye

“Our family is happy with so many things at Wildwood School. The sense of community and understanding for all types of differences creates such a wonderful environment in which to learn and grow. The teachers and other staff are truly interested in understanding each child as an individual and strive to help them learn in a way that is meaningful to them. Questions are encouraged, differences in opinion are welcomed as a way to stimulate deeper discussion of a topic, and alternative answers are readily accepted. While it is sometimes difficult for everyone to see the benefit of a more progressive type of education, the collaborative approach of project based learning will help prepare our children to be successful in whatever path they choose. Teaching children how to think critically, work as a team, and present their ideas is what will set them apart as they begin college and later enter the workforce”.
-Amy, Wildwood Elementary School

“I love that the teachers have such great attitudes and greet the kids every morning with enthusiasm! I also love that the school uses humor. It has just the right mix of being focused, thoughtful and academic while fostering a sense of enthusiasm, joy and love. My kids amaze me not only with what they are learning, but the complexity of their understanding of the material.”
-Gretchen, The Willows Community School

“What I love most about Campbell Hall is it’s down-to-earth culture. There’s an extremely strong sense of community, and I think that comes from the school’s philosophy of focusing on the whole child, not just the academic aspect. I like the notion that it’s just as important to be a kind person as it is to be a smart person.”
-Lauren, Campbell Hall

“What I love about PS#1 is the fact that all the teachers know my kids, even though my kids have not had all of the teachers. I like the fact that there is a community among the students. When my son was in kindergarten he knew and played with 5th and 6th graders who adored him and took care of him. Now that he is in 3rd grade, he has friends who are in 1st grade and friends who are in 6th grade.  I love that my naturally super organized daughter has the structure she needs to learn the way she learns best and the support she needs to stand up in front of the whole school, make announcements and be comfortable doing it.  I love the fact that the kids who come from PS#1 know how to ask for– and get guidance from–teachers, other adults and peers to help them learn….to me this the most valuable life skill ever!”  I love PS#1 because it is truly a community of parents who are different, unique, open and caring.”
Kim Hamer, PS#1 Elementary 

“What I like most about Mirman is that it has very high, but not unreasonable, expectations in terms of academics and behavior. My child simply thrives in this environment.”
-Jenny Heitz, Mirman School

“I like St. James because it’s diverse, the academics are good, and the kids are a little more innocent there as compared to the kids at some other schools.”
-Alison, St. James Episcopal School

“I love the fact that Crossroads Elementary School has the mantra, “Is it True, is it Kind, is it Necessary?” These words are evident in the children’s attitudes towards others. The children are warm and welcoming, and I have yet to hear from my daughter (who is new to the fourth grade this year) of any type of social strife between the girls.”
– Carole, Crossroads Elementary School

“The Willows Community School continues to amaze me with its integrated curriculum and the big picture approach to teaching. The art program is truly spectacular. Cathy the librarian, is always there to help my kids select books, give them ideas about what they can read next and instill in them a love of reading. The modern, urban campus is also one of my favorite things about the school.”
-Christina Simon, The Willows Community School 

*Added on 3/23/11

I love Brentwood School because it defies labels, and that seemed very rare to me as I evaluated the options. If you’re looking for a nurturing, challenging, thoughtful and spirited community, Brentwood won’t let you down. For my children who are very different from one another, I love Brentwood because the teachers who have taught them both, have understood them and delivered unique, relevant and highly personal experiences for both, all on the same beautiful campus. In addition to the exceptional caliber of personnel, the selection of children to accompany my kids on this journey, has been superb. I guess I love Brentwood School because as I said, it defies labels, and attracts both staff and families which embrace the idea that sometimes making a difference has to be a foundation of the school, if it is to be a foundation of the character of its students.
-Adrienne, Brentwood Lower School 


Is there something you love about your child’s private elementary school? Leave a comment and share with other moms!

To comment, click on “comments” at the end of any post. You don’t have to register or sign in. You can choose to leave your comment anonymously (just scroll down until you see “anonymous” under your name options).Sometimes Google Blogger requires you to click “Post” a few times before your comment will go through