Post #1: What We’ve Learned. Celebrating Ten Years.

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Post #1

If you are a family of color thinking about, or already enrolled in independent schools, this post is for you! Attending an independent school can have huge returns on education, networks, extraordinary experiences, and skills that can have a positive effect on the future of families and communities.

During the past decade, RIISE has learned that although there is diversity among families of color, many of us experience similar challenges navigating independent schools. The challenges are more systemic than they are individual and despite the virtues, bias does exist in elite educational spaces. We must be present if we want to be seen, heard and advance the issues. We want what we’ve learned to inspire more families of color to apply and fully experience independent schools if they pay $1,000 or $51,000 a year to attend.

As my kids moved from one division to the next, I remember a mom sharing how important it was to introduce myself, my thoughts about my children, and my expectations for them to each teacher, at the same time. With some scheduling assistance from the dean’s office, I was able to pull off thoughtfully advocating for my kids with teachers who, regardless of intention, may have implicit biases that can affect my child of color in the classroom.

1. Be present ahead of time to apply to independent schools.
2. Being present is crucial to the overall success of our kids.
3. Being present means showing up as often as possible, building relationships, being curious and uncomfortable.
4. Like our kids, we should ask really good questions, put in the time, and take risks.
5. Sharing our diverse perspectives brings value to our schools and helps our kids be ready and resilient.

Look out for Post #2 tomorrow, before midnight!

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Check Out These Awesome April Events!


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Historical Roots of and Strategies to Address the “N-word” and Other Bias Language | RSVP


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Lynne Maureen Hurdle Headshot Fearless Conversations: How to Better Engage in The Art of Difficult Conversations? Why do we avoid those difficult conversations? Perhaps, we put them off because we don’t have the language to effectively respond to things. Maybe things don’t go so well when we do engage each other, our children, or schools with difficult issues regarding gender, race, class, or religion. We might not even have these conversations at all because we fear it will only make difficult topics worse. Current events make it nearly impossible to avoid crucial and challenging dialogue. But, how can we be successful in engaging in difficult conversations? Conflict resolution strategist, Lynne Hurdle-Price will bring her ‘Lynnergy’ to guide us in this interactive development workshop on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at School of the Holy Child-Rye. Please RSVP to by Friday, April 13, 2018


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TIME: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM



This annual youth conference is for self-identified Latin@ / Latinx adults and students in 5th – 12th grades who attend/work in a regional independent school. We are a pan-ethnic group, made up of the range of people from any of the twenty-two Spanish speaking countries, bi-, mono-, or multi-lingual, lgbtq+ inclusive, who acknowledge the African diaspora and indigenous cultures within our roots and his/her stories.  The cost for attending this conference is $20 per student and/or per adult. LENYIS is committed to creating an inclusive conference so please reach out if your school cannot make this fee.



LOGO_Test_Rocker_Final_Transparent_01   Upcoming FREE events/consultations for RIISE families:

Complimentary 1-on-1 consultation for SSAT/SHSAT/ISEE/PSAT/SAT/ACT (Click to Schedule) Includes Diagnostic Test, Score Prediction, Analysis and Personalized Study Plan.


High School Admissions Testing Workshop (Click to save your spot – only 10 available)

Date: Sunday, April 22nd Time: 2pm – 3:30pm Location: Lower Manhattan – exact location TBD Who should attend: Parents of children who will be applying to HS in the Fall of 2018. Children are welcome.

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Preparing To Rock The Test? SSAT | SHSAT | ISEE | PSAT | SAT | ACT

RIISE has searched long and hard for a high quality, results driven test preparation resource for our families, and we are excited to announce that we have decided to collaborate with NYC DOE approved TestRocker, Inc. Be ready, so you don’t have to get ready.


About TestRocker: 

The founders of TestRocker, two females of color (Notre Dame and Harvard grads) and their mother (educator with 18+ years of experience), created the company 6 years ago in NYC. Since then, they have helped 10,000+ students prepare successfully for high school and college admissions tests. While they have students in 40+ countries, they are headquartered in our area and have created a bespoke high touch program exclusively for families such as yours. In the coming weeks, you will be able to meet with them in person or virtually to get all of your test prep and high school/college admissions questions answered.


Students from the following NYC schools have raised their scores with TestRocker: Horace Mann | Trevor Day | Brooklyn Friends Riverdale | Bronx HS of Science | Stuyvesant HS  Bard | Trinity | Goddard | Harlem Village Academy  Lower Manhattan Arts Academy | James Madison Brooklyn Tech | Leadership HS | New Utrecht HS Pace HS | HS of Fashion Industries | Manhattan Hunter Science HS | Park East | Baruch College Campus HS | Urban Assembly School of Design & Construction | Aviation High School | Professional Performing Arts School | Eleanor Roosevelt HS  Laguardia HS | Stuyvesant HS | Latin School


Programs offered: Personalized online and in-person classes for SSAT | SHSAT | ISEE | PSAT | SAT | ACT


Upcoming FREE events/consultations for RIISE families:


Complimentary 1-on-1 consultation for SSAT/SHSAT/ISEE/PSAT/SAT/ACT (Click to Schedule)
Includes Diagnostic Test, Score Prediction, Analysis and Personalized Study Plan.


High School Admissions Testing Workshop (Click to save your spot – only 10 available)

Date: Sunday, April 22nd

Time: 2pm – 3:30pm

Location: Lower Manhattan – exact location TBD

Who should attend: Parents of children who will be applying to HS in the Fall of 2018. Children are welcome.


*For RIISE families only.


We have negotiated an exclusive price with them for RIISE students, so make sure you mention you’re from RIISE when you speak with them.


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10 Years: A Prepared Journey



Born of the Civil Rights & Black Power movements, I went on to graduate from an HBCU. By birth, education, and calling I am prepared to speak up for racial justice, educational equity, and when necessary interrupt systems that disrupt them.

Ten years ago, I had an unforgettable conversation with our then head of lower school, Sandy Shaller. He was quite distraught over the fact that an upper school student, who began their indy school journey in the lower division, was now being asked to leave. Sandy and I talked at length about the rewards and challenges an independent school poses for students of color and the narrow road their families find themselves navigating for an elite education. It has been ten years since he declared, “I wish I had a bible I could give parents of color for the journey.”. I left that meeting tasking myself and others to provide a resource that would prepare the way for families of color.

Resources Independent School Education, also known as RIISE or  4RIISE, celebrates its 10th year building bridges between families of color and the culture of independent schools. We have not done it alone. Families of color lift up our community by taking the chance on applying and enrolling in independent schools as they prepare the next generation of doers and changemakers. The commitment of member schools supports their goal of institutional equity, inclusion, and diversity.

We are prepared to assist families with awareness and access to viable ways to achieve social-emotional balance in predominantly white and affluent academic institutions. Our rich network of thought-leaders and stakeholders are also prepared to support and elevate academic and developmental excellence with PK-12 independent school education.

We’ve learned a lot over the past 10 years. Revelations, both heart-warming and sobering, have helped RIISE assemble ten key strategies for embracing opportunities and challenging systems for overall success. To celebrate, we are revealing ‘What We’ve Learned’ in 10-short blog posts (starting April 5) at

We are super honored and thrilled to walk with you. Thank you for your engagement and advocacy.

Ten years. It’s just the start!


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2.27 | Honest Race Talk: How Do we Overcome the Fears, with Dr. Derald Wing Sue


Horace Mann School invites you to…

Dr. Derald Wing Sue, Honest Race Talk: How Do We Overcome the Fears?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Horace Mann School

231 West 246th Street

6:30 – 8:30 PM

Open to Independent School Educators and Families

More from Dr. Derald Wing Sue on his book Race Talk And The Conspiracy Of Silence

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Indy School Parents Who Write!

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The Horace Mann School Parents Association Book Club along with the Black Parents Union (BPU) was excited to welcome one of their own, Ginger McKnight-Chavers P’18, whose daughter is a senior at the school. Ginger is a native of Dallas, Texas where she attended Ursuline Academy before moving on to Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and Harvard Law School. She was a Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellow at Sarah Lawrence College and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Ginger’s book, In the Heart of Texas, was released in the Fall of 2016. In the Heart of Texas won the 2016 USA Best Book Award for African-American fiction. Today, the former entertainment attorney currently is a contributing writer at ShareBlue Media and an instructor at Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute, while working on two additional book project and blogging for the Huffington Post and the TexPatch. She resides in Westchester County, New York with her husband, daughter and their overweight West Highland White Terrier. Read More »

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Square Peg, Round Hole: enrollment and independent school fit

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There’s not one email from my head of school that I won’t open. He is innovative and I appreciate his leadership style. His most recent communication was an invitation for families to re-enroll. The invitation declared the school’s recommitment to the ongoing success of the educational program, as well as empathy for the sacrifices many families make to enroll their children.

This will be our twelfth year signing an annual contract to partner with our school. You could say we’ve been fortunate to have found the right fit. Disclaimer, ‘the right fit’ does not mean ‘the perfect fit’. To be totally candid, we’ve had a couple of ‘WTF’ moments over the years. Yet, it is our expectations, visibility, voice, and more importantly our school’s response to these moments that have made it a good fit for us.

RIISE recognizes families of color have uniquely tough decisions to make about the types of independent school communities they want their children to develop in. How do you know if a particular school will be a good fit? Can that change over time? And, if so what are your options?

Recently, I had two very passionate conversations about fit with two different mothers in two very different situations, or so it would seem. Mom # 1 is really anxious about upcoming decision notices. Mom #2 feels the same. The difference between them is that the first mom wants IN praying that at least one, or perhaps multiple schools will make her family an offer. The second mom’s child is already enrolled in an independent school which is not a good fit -she wants OUT, also waiting for offers from other schools.

This post is not intended to dissuade families of color from applying, enrolling or re-enrolling at indy schools. But, it is intended to encourage good inquiry and assessment in your search for academic and developmental excellence.

Consider the possibilities: Read More »

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A Few Things To Do Now That Admissions Is Closing

So what should applicants do and not do? We caught up briefly with Jenna King, admissions director at Riverdale Country School and asked her to share some of her insight…

What should parents/applicants be focusing on now?

  • research follow up questions now to prepare for offers i.e., transportation, after-school programs
  • don’t get too focused on a particular school, keep options open
  • be ready to respond to questions about affordability and deposit
  • offers can create a frenzy but take time to read contracts
  • keep things in perspective, stay positive

First choice/top choice letters?

  • depends on schools-some want, some don’t be careful.

What does the work schedule of the admission office look like now?

  • days, nights and weekends!
  • so try not to call the office to find out if items are missing from your file
  • online application platforms indicate what is still outstanding
  • as well, many schools will call if something is missing

Thanks, Jenna! We appreciate all of the hard work our admission teams put into building community.

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Monkey, Better Known as MONKADEE

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A favorite of her toddler years, brown limbs flopping as she held it tightly around the mid-section, she affectionately called it ‘Monkadee’. I had no reason to question my daughter’s choice of a Lovie because for her it was everything comfy and cute. However, I would have had a reason to question dressing her in a shirt that said ‘cutest monkey in the park’, because I simply would not have done it! This brings me to the Swedish mom who vehemently defended her choice to allow her child to model a sweatshirt emblazoned ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’.

Surely, my heightened instinct to protect my black child at all costs, from both physical and emotional harm is universal. Clearly, not. I was absolutely shocked by this mom’s choice to defend the appropriateness of the H&M sweatshirt as “no big deal”. I wondered if a continental divide shielded her from the racist associations of black & brown people as animals. So I decided to instant message my cousin in Sweden. Perhaps she could affirm this mother’s ignorance as a result of some utopian disposition. Much to my dismay, my Swedish cousin confirmed my suspicion that there is no shortage of white supremacist attitudes in a supposedly socially progressive place like Sweden. My bi-racial cousin shared the popular disbelief and anger towards this mom for not protecting her child, our children, from historic and clearly contemporary coded racist imagery.

That sweet little boy, that king of all kings, was his mom’s alarming reaction merely a way to secure future financial gains for her son’s modeling career? If in her position I wouldn’t care how many coins were tossed my way, I could not imagine selling my child out. Could any mother of a black or brown child justify it? If as parents we are not speaking out and fighting against racist imagery and biased systems, I really question our ability to parent successfully.

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