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:

  • You get lucky and get a seat at a school where there’s a mutual fit.
  • Or, after enrolling in what you thought was the right fit, you later learn the school does not have the capacity to get ‘it’ (whatever it is you need)
  • Here, you’ll have to decide if you are willing to encourage and help them get it right without sacrificing your child’s academic or social/emotional development.
  • Hopefully, you are re-enrolling in a culture and community that in its imperfection has demonstrated the capacity to get it right.

Not all school cultures and communities are the same, and it is often difficult to predict what it will look and feel like until you are enrolled. The great news is the reason we choose to enroll our children of color in independent schools resides in the power to decide how our children will be educated.

If you identify with mom #1 take advantage of networking with other enrolled families to better understand how they navigate culture and community at their school. If you can relate to what mom #2 is going through, don’t settle. Your experiences will help you recognize if the next school will be a good fit.

RIISE wishes families all the best on their journey toward k-12 academic success with a reminder to trust in the divine order of the process.

Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have when decisions roll in!

 

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