Reader Question: Applying For Twins

Two For The Price Of…Two
Following our event at the Beverly Hills Country Club, we received several emails from parents of twins who asked if we have any suggestions for applying with twins. Anne Simon, co-author of Beyond The Brochure, has this answer:
The question of applying for twins is very interesting. On the one hand, the school is engaging with a family who immediately brings more than one child into the program. While families with more than one child create stability and continuity for the school, they usually come one at a time and the school is not taking a double risk that this family will not understand the school culture, partner with the teachers and administration on educating their children, or be willing to be substantial contributors to the school community in every way – including financially.
The important thing to impress on the admissions folks in the interviewing process–and throughout the application process– is that you, as parents, are not trying to get two children through their school as if they were one. You must let them know that you understand that you will be partners with them on each child, seeing your children individually, contributing to the school with your volunteer efforts for two, supporting the school financially beyond tuition for two, etc.
Of course this approach assumes that both children are equally appropriate for the school and that there exists the appropriate setting for them to enter. The “in class together or in separate classes” issue must be dealt with. Arguments can be made for either. The school’s interest in the balance issues is genuine – gender, age, ethnicity, etc., and will be part of the equation. It will also be helpful to apply to schools that have two classes per grade in case your children need to be in separate classes (for K and up). Your job is to convince the school that they will get that solid family that is committed to the school in every way, the same as a family with siblings who have enrolled over time. If this message is delivered effectively, everybody wins.

The Willows School’s New (Very) Healthy Hot Lunch Program

A few months ago, my kids school, The Willows, switched to a new, healthier hot lunch program. I have to say, not only do the kids LOVE it, but it really does offer healthy hot lunch options that my kids select again and again. For example:

  • Potsticker Dumplings with sugar snap peas and organic brownie
  • Spiral Pasta with Marinara Sauce, organic carrot and celery sticks and caesar dip
  • Bowl of turkey chili with organic beans, sides of cheese and steamed broccoli and organic apple sauce
Deliciously edible.
Thanks to Bonne Bouffe Catering.

Co-author Porcha Dodson takes Project Knapsack to S. Africa!


Good Works!


Beyond The Brochure Co-Author, Porcha Dodson, CEO of Project Knapsack, a non-profit pen-pal and back pack exchange program, paid a visit last week to students at the Molalatladi Primary School in Soweto, South Africa. This year, the students from Molalatladi wrote pen-pal letters to their new friends from Campbell Hall School and Jefferson Middle School in Lennox, CA. In partnership with Loyola Marymount University, the program was able to provide each student in Africa with their very own back-packs filled with school supplies as well as help expand the school’s technology lab.
Project Knapsack supporters include:
The Rock Foundation, The Sheila C. Johnson Foundation, Care, Staples, Element Skateboards and The Washington Mystics.
For more information, visit

Private School Annual Giving: Not Optional

We all know what this means: $$$$. It symbolizes an expensive restaurant. It could also be the symbol for private elementary school annual giving campaigns.


New parents at private elementary schools are often surprised that contributing to the school’s annual giving campaign is expected. Yes, expected. Not optional. Private schools rely on the annual giving campaign to cover expenses that are not covered by tuition. You may get a letter or a call from another parent asking for your contribution. Subtle hints will follow. Banners around the school and articles in the school’s newsletter announcing the kickoff of the annual giving campaign.


So, your first year at private school, even if you do a TON of volunteer work, chair a committee, serve as room parent, host a party, contribute to the fair or other events, you will still be expected to contribute to the annual giving campaign. The amount is totally up to you. Schools hope new families will be generous with their annual campaign gift. But, they know that you’re still getting acquainted with the private school environment. If you have questions, ask the development director for guidance. When they tell you the “gap” between what tuition covers and what the school’s expenses are, that’s your clue as to the amount needed per family.


At The Willows School, the category with the most families in is up to $1499.00. Next is the $1,500-$2,999 category. The smallest category of families is the $25,000 and up. The chart would like like a triangle.


The most important thing (besides one hundred percent particiation) is that you increase your giving every year. And, if your second child enrolls at the school, expect to be asked to give twice the “gap” amount, once for each child. The amount of the gap depends on the school and can range from $2000 up.


What drives private schools crazy? Families who say that they are opposed to annual giving “on principle” because they pay tuition. In addition to building goodwill within the school community, schools can receive grant money based on the school’s annual fund particiation rates. Board members, teachers, staff, alumni, grandparents and corporations also participate in the annual campaign.


While it may seem like tuition should cover all expenses, it doesn’t. And, all the wonderful things the school offers are only possibly with a robust annual campaign. Yes, its an additional expense, but the contribution from every family is appreciated, no matter the amount. It’s not what you give, but whether you give.


Take a deep breath. Your contribution will be tax deductible.