NEW - Why Choose an Independent School
Kathleen Visconti, Director of Enrollment Management

Occasionally, members of the Elisabeth Morrow administration will share their thoughts with you in this space. Today's guest column is from Kathleen Visconti.

As a Director of Enrollment, I meet with hundreds of families each year. They ask me why they should send their children to an independent school, and to EMS in particular. Here are just some of the reasons:

Why is an independent school the best kind of school? EMS is independently governed by a board of trustees. It can design its curriculum and policies in the way that it thinks is best for children. It is a non-profit, with all revenue going back into the school.

What makes our teachers special? Independent school teachers, who are experts in their subject matter, have the freedom to create educational experiences that meet each child’s needs. They strive to develop a full understanding of each student’s learning style, interests, and motivation.

Why is our mission important? EMS is driven by its own unique philosophy, values, and approach to teaching, developed with input from our whole community. This mission provides a framework for all that we do at school. 

What about academics? EMS nurtures intellectual curiosity, stimulates personal growth, encourages critical thinking, and promotes a lifelong love of learning. We challenge each student by setting the bar high and providing caring support. We offer a wide variety of subjects in order to discover and develop passions, and an unparalleled arts education. More students in independent high schools enroll in advanced courses than in public, parochial, and other private schools, and are the highest achievers in higher education. Only 1 percent of children in the country have the gift of independent school education, yet they make up 20 percent of top scholars at universities.

What about class size? Low student-teacher ratios encourage close connections between instructors and students. At EMS, our ratio overall is 7:1, and average class size is 12-16.

What about my child as an individual? In addition to academics, EMS nurtures students’ social-emotional growth and civic conscience. EMS students know how to advocate for themselves and are good community members with a moral compass.

How about preparation to be a world citizen? EMS has the gift of strong global and cultural diversity in a vibrant community that welcomes and respects every family.

How about the parents? EMS promotes regular communication among students, parents, and teachers to ensure everyone is working toward the same goals. As a parent, you can actively engage in your student’s education, because the staff and teachers value your participation.

EMS is increasing the enrollment and retention of students to historic highs. These children are in a highly desired, great school with a huge heart, run by knowledgeable professionals. Soon we will be sending you enrollment contracts, and we hope that you reflect on why you chose an independent school and the Elisabeth Morrow School in particular. 

Having raised a child that attended only great independent schools, I know what an independent school education can mean. Our children are confident, resourceful, and meaningful contributors to society. I believe that there are two significant things you can give to your children- your love and support and a great education. We thank you for your partnership and look forward to welcoming you back next year. 

NEW - Welcome Back
By Judy Fox, Ed.D., Interim Head of School

Welcome to 2019, one and all! A long break offers the opportunity to slow down and take a breath and see things in more detail than during our usual overscheduled days.

Speaking of slowing down, I find that when I walk up the hill to Morrow House from lower campus, I am out of breath just when I reach the steps near the Morrow House parking lot. So I rest for a moment before proceeding.

One day, with light snow falling, I took an extra few moments to pause, slow my breathing and look around.

The silence was disturbed only by the soft rustle of leaves in the woods. The sources of that rustle captured my interest. When one stops and really looks, one sees so much that might be missed by an uninterrupted march onward. 

That day, it was a doe nuzzling under the leaves for young plant growth, two squirrels darting about looking for nuts and eight robins, rooting for worms, probably, and a little late for their trek south, to my worried mind.

The whole scene left me breathless...this time in the figurative sense. It underscored for me that a close look at EMS reveals beauty in every corner of the campus. 

Thank you all for contributing to the human part of that.

NEW - Winter Break Wishes
Jan Abernathy

Often, this time of year, we find ourselves exhausted, laboring under the strains of year-end activities: concerts at school; closing out budgets and books in business; preparing for holiday travel; cooking; hosting; visiting; doing household chores; giving gifts.  There’s so much to do, we may rarely have time just to be.

Charles Lamb, a 19th century British essayist, wrote about this time of year. I love the way he engages my thinking, and I share, here, an excerpt from his essay, “New Year’s Eve.”

…No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference. It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left...

Of all sound of all bells – …most solemn and touching is the peal which rings out the Old Year. I never hear it without a gathering-up of my mind to a concentration of all the images that have been diffused over the past twelvemonth; all I have done or suffered, performed or neglected…The sound of those midnight chimes, though it seemed to raise hilarity in all around me, never failed to bring a train of pensive imagery into my fancy.

I wish for you all a wonderful, restorative end to 2018. I offer the hope that next year at this time, your “train of pensive imagery” derives from feelings of love and good health at home, accomplishment and camaraderie at school and work and the sense of well-being that is part of belonging to a community like EMS.

NEW - End-of-Year Calendar Changes
By Judith R. Fox, Ed.D.

Resilience. We talk a lot about how important a personal quality this is for students. I offer parents, now, an opportunity to model resilience for your children!

I am writing to share a few changes we have made to the end of the school schedule this year. First, though, something that is not changing: Morrow House graduation remains on Tuesday, June 11. For students in fifth through seventh grade, this will be the last (half) day of school, as they will be expected to attend graduation at 1 p.m. 

Our Little School Concert will be held on Monday, June 10. That will be the last day of school for both Little School students and eighth grade students. Monday will be a half day for Little School students who will have end-of-year classroom celebrations immediately following the concert. Eighth graders will be dismissed at their standard time. 

Chilton House students’ last day will be on Friday, June 7. All of these changes, as well as changes to the last day of childcare for each division, are reflected on the school calendar. 

We have considered different configurations for the end of the school year in an attempt to strike the right balance between instructional days, family plans and the need for end-of-year faculty work days. We believe that ending school with graduation is a joyful way to welcome summer! 


NEW - The Spider Museum
Jan Abernathy

Arachnophilia. If you didn't know what this was before visiting the second-grade Spider Museum, open for a limited engagement this past Monday and Tuesday, you surely would have by the time you left.

Expanding on what had been a second-grade study for some time, the lower school faculty created what I assess to be a paradigmatic multi-disciplinary, project-based unit of study. 

For those of you not familiar with this activity, here's why. First, there was evidence of several different disciplines contributing to the completion of the project: science, poetry, research, mathematics, art, technology, presentation skills, and Spanish. 

Second, the unit culminated in a set of work products that incorporated all those disciplines. There were works of art in the genres of construction (of the spider under study), computer representations, and painting (of webs). The students' poetry was on display, as were their research booklets. Students were able to explain their math problem solutions (and in one case, a student showed me why multiple solutions would work). 

Third, the students proudly presented their work to their parents and other visitors, displaying confidence and competence.

Finally, there were the more subtle components of this unit: multiple teachers working collaboratively; differentiated assignments through the spider to be studied and the math problem to be solved, for example; teachers exchanging the traditional role of conveyer of knowledge to one of coaching and guiding students to uncover knowledge.

My hat is off to all the teachers who participated and especially to our second grade students who brightened up the start of this week! If you missed visiting the Spider Museum, don't worry. You'll have another chance next year.