A Boarding School Interview: Susan Mantilla-Goin @ Fay School

We’re counting down to RIISEMV19 Events! In anticipation of the first of two – Building Boarding School Networks on August 12 (join us), we checked in with one of our thought-leader panelists, Susan Mantilla-Goin at Fay School in Southborough, CT, located about 90 miles from the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard!

RIISE: Susan, how long have you been at Fay?
SMG: I have worked at Fay School for 5 years. I am the Senior Associate Director of Admission & Director of Financial Aid.

RIISE: What do you enjoy the most?
SMG: I really enjoy interviewing prospective students and helping them explore Fay. I love that I get to watch and support enrolled students as they explore new opportunities and talents.

RIISE: What makes Fay unique?
SMG: As a junior boarding school, middle school is a time where students are often developing a greater awareness of what’s happening in the world and how that affects them. Helping students find their voice, develop self-advocacy skills, and understanding of the value and importance of diversity, empathy, and engagement is important to me.

RIISE: We’re curious about what aspects of the boarding school experience you believe students will benefit from the most?
SMG: Our alumni often share that they felt known and valued for their individual contributions to our community. Fay students come from over 25 countries, 15 states, and 40 towns in Massachusetts. Our students benefit from being part of a global community and certainly learned or improved time management and organizational skills, discovered new interests as well. These skills serve them well in secondary school, college, and life. However, being part of a connected community at Fay is what gives them the confidence to step out of their comfort zone.

As a junior boarding school, we know that middle school students benefit from structure and support as they navigate the increased independence when they live away from home. Learning to manage their time, self-advocate, and live in a truly multicultural community in middle school better prepares them for even more independence they will have in high school and college.

RISE: Okay, so let’s talk about the biggest misconception folx have about the boarding school experience.
SMG: I think some parents worry that they won’t have a voice in their child’s schooling if a student goes to boarding school. That could not be farther from the truth – schools partner with parents. At Fay, we send weekly updates on Fridays, the academic advisor and dorm parents have regular communication with parents and student can bring cell phones for use during specified times during the week and most of the weekend. Boarding schools tend to have few random days off. Instead, boarding schools build in longer breaks so that students can have extended time at home and our teachers can still do all-school professional development.

RIISE: Let’s flip that last question and ask what’s the most important thing families should consider?
SMG: When exploring schools, focus on the fit. Explore different kinds of schools – size, geographic location, coed and single-gender schools, etc. – you will find that each school has a different feel and culture. Don’t worry about the cost of the school while exploring your options. Boarding schools are looking for students who are the best fit for their academic, extracurricular, and residential program from all socio-economic backgrounds. Boarding schools have a lot to offer your child and family AND your child and family will enrich the school community as well.

RIISE: How are students of color supported after gaining access to Fay? How do they have voice and visibility?
SMG: Hear from a parent of a recent Fay graduate.
SMG: Hear from a recent Fay graduate.

RIISE: We’re so excited about RIISEMV19 events, and having Fay join families at our Building Boarding School Networks on 8.12. What comes to mind when you think about the Vineyard?
SMG: Sun, sand, and community are the first things that come to mind when I think of the Vineyard. Oaks Bluff and the Vineyard’s history within the Black community is something I have read a lot about but have not had the privilege of experiencing first hand. This will actually be my first trip to the Vineyard and I look forward to getting a glimpse of what makes MV so special.

At RIISE’s Building Boarding School Networks events, I am eager to share all that boarding schools and Fay School, in particular, can offer to 7th, 8th, and 9th-grade students. I hope to learn from families what they are looking for in a school community and share what I learn with the Fay School community.

RIISE: Finally, what books will you be reading on the beach?
SMG: All Fay faculty are reading Range: Why Generalist Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein. I am also reading Leaving Maggie Hope by Anthony S. Abbott and Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Patillo Beales with my 12-year old son.

On the Vineyard?
8.12 – Building Boarding School Networks
Edgartown Public Library
Martha’s Vineyard

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