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BANNER, Winter 2014: Path to Secondary School

Program Offers Support and Guidance
One role of an elementary/middle school is to lay the educational foundation for students and an important component of that work is supporting and preparing students as they apply to secondary school. Over the course of many years, Brookwood has developed an extraordinary secondary school program for our students and families, one that combines organizational and educational guidance. Assistant Head of School Barb Liston sends along this report.


December and January are the peak months of the secondary school process but the first steps of the program begin long before that. During the summer months before the students’ eighth grade year, Head of School John Peterman and myself have individual conferences with all eighth grade families in order to flesh out family priorities, student interests, and appropriate academic "fit." Next, after we assembled a first-pass list of schools to consider, we at school worked hard with kids on the fine points of the application process.

Once the school year begins, our eighth grade teachers, John and I have students assemble autobiographies and answer self-questionnaires in order to get them more comfortable thinking and speaking about themselves. We bring in an admission officer from an area secondary school who speaks to our students about the view from "the other side of the desk." We also talk at length about interview skills and have each student go through a mock interview with volunteer faculty members. Finally, we practice writing effective thank-you notes.

In October and November, students visit the schools for their interviews, and then it is crunch time - for the students, writing all those applications; for the teachers and administrators, writing the recommendations.

In addition to the individual teacher recommendations required by independent and parochial secondary schools, Brookwood creates for each student a two-to-three page letter of recommendation that deals in a comprehensive way with the student's academic profile and achievement at the school, as well as his or her extracurricular interests and accomplishments both in and outside of school; it also provides an overview of character, interpersonal skills, and personality.

Whereas parochial school deadlines are in mid-December, most independent schools have a January 15 deadline. At this point, the students headed for public school need only to notify their schools of their intent to matriculate and to take the requisite placement tests in the spring.

With most of the applications now in the hands of the secondary schools, students and families await the mid-March decisions. Our students will gain admission to many, sometimes all, of the schools to which they applied and then begin the task of school revisits and making that final choice.

Throughout this final stage, John, myself, and the Grade 8 team of teachers remain ready to offer students and parents whatever help they may need. The secondary school placement process is multi-faceted and time-intensive, but we are committed to making sure that our kids end up in just the right spot after they leave their home at Brookwood.

- Barb Liston, Assistant Head of School

Head of School Coffee: Secondary School and Beyond
On Tuesday, March 4, at 8:30 a.m., parents of students in Grades PreK - 6 are invited to learn how Grade 8 faculty, Barb Liston and John Peterman partner with parents in navigating the secondary school process. The procedure, the timeline, the guided support throughout, and an overview of recent trends will all be covered during this very informative talk.  Parents attending will also learn about the schools to which our students have been accepted in recent years as well as where they are attending.  John will also discuss the college matriculation of recent graduates.