Weekend Links: Private School Events, Links, Photos…


A packed house at Children’s Book Word for my friend Sarah Maizes new kid’s book, “On My Way To Bed”. So fun! Christina, Sarah Maizes (www.sarahmaizes.com) and Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff (MommyGreenest.com)
An adorable, entertaining new kids book, "On My Way To Bed"
An adorable, entertaining new kids book, “On My Way To Bed”

To buy Sarah’s book, visit www.childrensbookworld.com or Amazon.com. P.S. The New York Times recommends it!


New York private schools are considering getting rid of the kindergarten entrance exam, the ERB. Still, many believe this won’t ease the competition. (The Atlantic)


An excellent primer on everything you need to know about the ISEE exam including how the exam is scored (required for L.A. private school admissions for 5th grade and up at most schools). (Launch Education Group)


CSSAD Fall Middle/Upper School Fair, Oct 2,  2013. For parents grades 5th and up interested in the 2014-15 school year.  Numerous secondary schools will be in attendance. Oct. 2, 2013, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at The Center For Early Education. For more information, visit, www.laais.org


Porcha and I will be speaking about private elementary school admissions at Brentwood Presbyterian Preschool! Open to the public. Click here for details.


We post articles and events on Beyond The Brochure’s Facebook Page. Like our page and don’t miss a thing!



Upcoming Event! Navigating The Private Elementary School Admissions Process



Please join us!

Event: Navigating The Private Elementary School Admissions Process


When: Tuesday, October 1, 2013, 6:30-7:30 p.m.


Where: Brentwood Presbyterian Church Preschool, 12000 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049. Garden Room. Limited street parking.


Who: Christina Simon and Porcha Dodson, co-authors, Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles.


RSVP Required to Nichole at BPCP, email: bpcp90049@gmail.com

Space is limited. This event is free and open to the community. 

New Online Shop From Private School Garden Goddess/Mom Lauri Kranz of Edible Gardens LA

Lauri Kranz, Edible Gardens LA
Garden Goddess Lauri Kranz, Edible Gardens LA (photos: Edible Gardens LA)

My friend, Lauri Kranz, founder of Edible Gardens LA, has just launched a super-cool new garden inspired line of goods. Some of you know I’m obsessed with school gardens! As I’ve mentioned previously, Lauri oversees the school gardens at Westland, Willows, Walther preschool and others schools.


From a school garden
From a school garden


She also counts The LA County Museum of Art among her many high-profile clients. Now, Lauri goes beyond blossoms, bulbs and branches to partner with Jenni Kayne, Joe’s Jeans, Chef Suzanne Goin and to create a line of gardening products that combine form and function.


Here are my favorite picks from the new line:

My favorite!
From Edible Gardens LA: A must-have sun hat
Love this apron by Joe's Jeans for Edible Gardens LA. Worn by Thandi Newton
Love this apron by Joe’s Jeans for Edible Gardens LA. Worn by Thandi Newton
A gorgeous herb pot
A gorgeous Victoria Morris herb pot

To shop and see the complete product line, click on Edible Gardens LA’s Market


Are You Fundraising For Your Kid’s Private School? Read on!

Auction Items

When my daughter was in 1st grade, I co-chaired the auction at The Willows School. This is the school’s biggest annual fundraiser and I knew it would be a lot of work. So, I was thrilled when I found out who my co-chairs would be. They were a talented group of professionals who had skills beyond my wildest dreams. We worked together for about nine months from start to finish. When the event was over and the totals were tallied we raised more than $200,000. It was like a full-time job for many of us and at times our nerves frayed, we argued and stress took over. Yet in the end, the event was lovely and successful. We took risks by moving the event to a new venue.  We solicited items the school had never auctioned previously. We drank, bid, ate and partied the night of the auction. A fun time was had by all.


Here’s what I learned.

  • School auctions (private and public) range from fancy to low-key and everything in between.
  • Create a great theme and tagline and use to brand the event by ensuring that all materials related to the event carry the theme throughout. 
  • Use a professional graphic designer for the invitation and collateral materials. If you don’t have one at your school, inquire if there are any parents with expertise or contacts in this area. 
  • Don’t be afraid to try new ideas. Fundraising is about what has worked in the past and fun, new ideas. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to be professional and uncomplicated.
  • Look at the websites of schools similar to yours. What type of auctions/galas have they done? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to fundraising. Best practices are very useful for school auctions.
A live auction item from the year I co-chaired Willows School auction
Live auction item
  • Create a schedule that takes you from the current date through the date of the event. Stick to it. Schedule regular committee meetings. Keep an online folder and binder of all your materials (this can be given to the next parent who chairs the event).
  • Make a list of what the school will not accept for donations (used items, etc.). Otherwise, your auctions risks becoming a dumping place for items that have been stored in somebody’s garage for the past decade. This isn’t a garage sale!
  • Start soliciting auction items by putting together a team of experienced volunteers who have been successful in past years.
  • Find the best person to ask a family for a donation if it’s not you. Often being asked by a friend means the difference between a ‘yes’ and an unreturned call.
  • Start by asking for donations from the vendors where you shop–and ask well in advance of your event. You’ll be surprised how willing they are to help their customers.
  • Learn what will/will not sell at your school. Restaurant gift cards are always a hit. Professional services are a harder sell. Include a mix of high end and affordable items so everyone will come and shop! Don’t accept junk like used shoes, even if they are designer. It lowers the quality of your auction.
Live auction item
Live auction item
  • Party Books are a fabulous way to raise money. These are parent-hosted events like dinner parties, wine tastings, lunch events, kids events that each attendee pays to attend and the proceeds benefit the school.
  • Avoid offers of discounted items and used items. You want full donations and new good.
  • Create a compelling, professional letter with the school’s letterhead and all the information a donor will need.
  • Review the school’s database of donors (if it exists). If not, create a list of potential businesses, friends of the school that you will solicit by mail, email and in person.
  • Book your event location as far in advance as possible.
  • Consider how you will publicize the event to school parents and stakeholders like alumni. What’s the best way to reach them? How many times will you contact them about the event?
  • Create a website, private Facebook Group or a page on the school’s website for all auction information (donation forms, volunteers needed, event date, location, items needed, etc.). Make it easy for parents to find information about the event!
  • There are good software programs specifically for school auctions/fundraisers.
  • Remember that you’re a volunteer and so is the committee. If you get overwhelmed, ask the school for more volunteers.
  • Be kind to volunteers who donate and solicit items, even if the donation is not what you hoped for.
  • Have fun, meet friends, work hard and relax when the event is over.


Here’s my post about private school galas on The Daily Truffle. (Also published on The Huffington Post.)


Check out A Mom’s Guide To School Fundraising. Sarah Barrett, an experienced mom, covers everything from lemonade stands and bake sales to auctions. And, she has an AUCTION SUCCESS KIT!

Weekend Links: L.A. Private School Libraries Embrace Digital Age, Definitive Guide To Elementary School Moms…

Kids Smiling

I think dropping your kid off for the first day of school is really, really hard. Even the second day. And the second week, too! 10 Ways To Ease Your Child’s Preschool Separation Anxiety (NYT)


Such a good post about preparing your child for the non-academic demands of kindergarten. I found that to be a bigger challenge than the academic since my daughter started kindergarten reading. For my son, it was a longer day to sit still and learn to read. (The Mom Beat on Orgeon Live)


Hilarious! Snarky In The Suburbs gives us her definitive guide to the “elementary school mother.” Recognize her? (Snarky In The Suburbs)


If you don’t follow us on Facebook, here’s what you missed! From our Facebook Page:


The venerable Pacific Oaks Preschool in Pasadena had to shut down their full-time program, leaving 44 families without a preschool (and no advance notice) and 4 teachers without jobs.  Part-time program remains open.  Parents are outraged. (LA Times). And, I was sent this website that has been set up anonymously by parents (most likely) to update families on the situation at Pacific Oaks. www.valuethechild.org


Excellent piece about the role of private school libraries in the digital age. Includes  “What’s hot and what’s not in libraries now.” Co-authored by librarians at Viewpoint, Buckley and Brentwood schools. (NAIS)