April 29—5th RIISE Parent Power Conference

Girl Jumping Rope, Elizabeth Catlett

Girl Jumping Rope, Elizabeth Catlett


Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 11.34.10 PM

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You’ve Gotta BELIEVE—Awaiting the Decision


photo credit: S. Mignott

photo credit: S. Mignott



It’s about to get real in a hot minute!

Keenly aware of where she will be this time next year with the independent school admission process, a mom of a three year old and a six month old is hyper-aware of the conversations buzzing around her, “…all the chatter in the nyc trains is about Kinder acceptance letters. heard two moms talking about being on pins and needles this morning waiting for next friday!”

As RIISE assists this mom with a strategic jump on the 2017-18 admission season, we are also helping her and others manage the STRESS OF ANTICIPATING A DECISION. It’s true—at this time of the year anxiety is in the air! If you dared to take the journey—above all things you’ve gotta BELIEVE in everyday miracles!

The next thing you need to do is understand what’s about to happen next. This knowledge can bring the stress level down tremendously and better prepare you for your next move. Get a handle on it before it gets a handle on you.

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Lunch With Gina—That Girl, Sydney Robertson

It was an absolute pleasure to catch up with Sydney at the close of her winter break from Wellesley College. She is That Girl for so many reasons. Sydney is an indy school grad (day and boarding school), a junior in college, and an up-stander headed into the financial industry.  Sydney agreed to this impromptu Lunch With Gina to share her opportunities and recent election experiences along with tips for parents who have children enrolled in independent schools.


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Straight, No Chaser Chronicles

Girl Jumping Rope, Elizabeth Catlett

Girl Jumping Rope, Elizabeth Catlett

Let’s get right to it. The highly selective independent school admission process is enlightening and stressful! Within the past eleven years I’ve experienced it first-hand, twice. For the last eight, I’ve joined many RIISE Doer member families on their journey towards academic excellence. So, I know a thing or two about months of audition and competition that culminates with a mixture of euphoric exhaustion and cautionary fear.

Families on the other side of the admission process absolutely believe in and love promoting the virtues of this educational choice. What’s not to love? High academic standards and expectations; well resourced educators and facilities; access to a variety of high touch experiences and networks. It’s all here and it is all good. Now, here is where it can get a bit sticky, but I have to be straight with you. Are you ready?

It would be all sorts of wrong if I did not help you look around the bend on this road. It might even be considered negligent if I did not encourage dialogue and share some trade secrets with you.

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Early Learning—Oh my…the things we should do!

 It is all about preparing our learners early on! Today’s guest blogger, Sandra Harbison is a thought leader in guidance and counseling preparing learners for success. Thank you Sandra for inspiring young parents with this post!!




As parents and caretakers we ask ourselves, what can we do for our children?

From the time they are in utero, we should begin to prepare for that special person. Everyone remembers the doctor visits, vitamins, and healthy eating advice, but let’s not forget how to prepare baby for life as a child and into adulthood.  Yes, it begins now!

During pregnancy, we should listen to music, sing, and talk to the baby.  Many psychologists now believe that little ones can pick up on the voices they hear before birth.  This behavior also helps us feel less stressed.  This information should help us to understand that we are actually  the first nursery school teachers.

Once our children are born, we should begin to think about the type of personality they have and begin to nurture them. This is how children LEARN.


SPEECH                TOYS                    GAMES               TRIPS             MUSIC

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POCC/SDLC In Three Words



The People of Color Conference is the flagship of the National Association of Independent Schools’ commitment to equity and justice in teaching and learning.  The mission of the conference is to provide a safe space for leadership and professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. 

Dreaming Out Loud: Waking Up to a New Era of Civil Rights

The Student Diversity Leadership Conference is a multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders (grades nine – 12) from across the U.S. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community.

POCC/SDLC took place the beginning of December in Atlanta.  We want to thank our friends for summing up their experiences in just three words. We hope it inspires and gets you stoked for 2017 RIISE Parent Power Conference: Parent as Partner this spring!

Tank Filled UpGloria Fernández-Tearte—Director of Diversity and Staff Development, Greenwich Academy

Emotional…Andre Robert Lee—Director & Producer | Film & TV, The Prep School Negro, I Am Not A Racist Am I

…Orinthia Swindell—Director of Equity & Inclusion, Brooklyn Friends School Read More »

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12/19—Join Riverdale Parents of Color Holiday Mixer!



All are welcome.

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Mom Tell All—About That School Tour

Vintage Women

 *this is good info for that interview you may not have had yet!

What was it like the day you arrived for the indy school tour?

I was excited, as I am with every tour, to see how the children function in their school environments and also see the facilities. I was running late for traffic related reasons but nothing in me made me panic as I feel at home in indy schools, like I belong here (alum of boarding school), my son belongs here. Know what your family deserves.

Traveling through the rain for two hours was difficult, but it had to be done.  If your late arrival is legitimate, just remain calm and carry on. I was made to feel quite welcome by the first administrator I met. His energy and welcoming spirit was everything I needed when I walked through the door.


What was the first thing that caught your attention once you settled into tour? 

My tour guide was quite boring and if I didn’t know any better, I would have lost interest. She offered very little information and I had to pull information out of her. I didn’t get the sense that she was trying to sell us on attending the school. I think she feels that she’s making sure we don’t get lost and she is there to answer questions if we have any and that’s it. If you do happen to get a poor tour guide, look beyond their performance and focus on the school itself and the important questions that you need answered.   


Did you have prepared questions? Did they change once you were on the tour? 

Schools should always look to evolve and stay current. It is vital to always have questions prepared that are geared towards how they are integrating these trends into their curriculum. We have entered into a time when coding, programming and robotics are now a necessity. My questions are always geared towards these hot topics and what emerging technologies the school has invested in. Examples of questions are: When does school begin coding? Is there a robotics program/lab? When do you begin homework and projects?(most tour guides provide this information but be prepared as mine did not) 
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Four Ways To Stay In Control of Admission Process


If you’ve been rocking out the independent school admission process for the last several months, then You Are A ROCK STAR! This competitive and subjective process is a roller coaster ride! But, what’s really cool is that you and your child threw both hands high in the air descending and ascending to the end. Bravo! But, the roller coaster ride is slowly winding down. Now what are you going to do?

The lull of waiting for a decision is generally when fear can set in. Some of our RIISE member families have expressed fears like: what will we do if we don’t get in? what if I lose my job?  how can we diminish the social and emotional costs families of color can experience once enrolled? —does any of this resonate with you? What are your fears?

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Lunch with Gina Podcast: Election ’16 What Kids Need Right Now—Empowerment

photo credit NYTimes

Listen to this inspiring and empowering podcast 


Are your kids as anxious as mine about the election? Discussions are happening in the classroom at indy schools, but what can we do at home to re-design a civics lesson gone terribly wrong.

Eva Vega-Olds Director of Community & Diversity at the Town School joins the podcast version of Lunch With Gina, helping us make the best of this unforgettable election cycle, day, and days to come to empower our kids to be active civic leaders.

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