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Michelle Morrison gives a recap.

By April 15, 2016Uncategorized

dean2If you missed Tom Sheppard, Dean of Admissions at Lawrenceville School, speak about changes in independent high school admissions and what Lawrenceville looks for in future students, Michelle Morrison, HOS, has outlined his key points.

We will be hosting an independent high school Admissions representative each fall and spring to speak to parents and students.  In the fall, we will be inviting Peddie’s Admissions Director and in the spring, Hun School’s.  For your convenience, these events occur right at drop off and a light breakfast, coffee, and tea are served.  We hope to see you there next year as this venue offers an opportunity for a more intimate, personalized exchange of questions and thoughts.

Summary of Tom Sheppard’s points to parents:

The SSAT will soon be requiring a character assessment as part of the test given to middle school students.  This test will attempt to measure and give value to the attributes that better determine success in high school and in life, as proven by research.  Some of these attributes are:  empathy, grit, compassion, internal drive, creativity, and collaboration.

Lawrenceville seeks students who still love learning, are passionate about something, are comfortable with the discussion-based learning model and approaching their teachers, and those who get involved.  One does not have to be the captain of the team or star of the activity they do, just have activities they are enjoying and learning from.  

Tom shared that during the first year at Lawrenceville, all incoming freshman are assigned the same courses, there are no honors classes offered at that time, and grades are not assigned as the courses are pass / fail.  He shared this is so the school can lower the anxiety and competition some students come to school with so that collaboration, joy in learning, and connections can occur as well as an allowance for faculty to get to know and assess students.

During high school interviews, students should think of these as a conversation and simply be able to answer open-ended questions beyond ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  Of course, the grace and courtesy learned at Princeton Montessori along with dressing appropriately and sitting up and looking engaged help as well.  

Tom spoke of the feeling he got in walking through our school and shared it is a feeling of warmth, light, inquisitive minds, and friendly people.  

He spoke directly to our middle school students and asked them to share what they most enjoy about school.  They shared that they enjoyed the experiential learning, close relationships with peers and teachers, connection to the younger children, ability to be an active participant in their conferences, goal setting, learning about study skills, trips and outings, and ability to not have high stakes pressure around testing but rather tests used to help them learn the subject and about testing itself, with the ability to go back and correct errors.

He asked the parents in attendance to share an adjective that most describes Princeton Montessori School.  The parents shared the adjectives:  creative, nurturing, wholesome, independent, and responsive.  Parents shared that their children love to come to school each day and that they feel the community of learners and parents are positive.

He commended parents for investing in an education that bucks the intense pressure of competition, memorize and regurgitate, and high stakes learning.  One parent shared that it is disconcerting to be ‘swimming against the tide’ in making this choice as it seems many parents succumb to the belief that a progressive education model may not get your child into the schools parents want for higher education.  Tom shared that parents should focus on the long view in educating their children to be the kind of adults the world needs, to be happy and in healthy relationships, and to find work that is their calling.  He stated research shows that the particular high school or college you go to does not determine happiness but developing the attributes mentioned earlier does.  He shared that Lawrenceville looks for students with this sort of education and that the Head of School shared that most of our graduates do go on to area independent high schools, including Lawrenceville.  


Tom closed by encouraging parents to look for high schools by finding out about their actual culture, which is done by speaking to current parents, students, and faculty.  He warned against looking only at statistics and stated that any school that pushes the list of colleges or AP courses as the most important information about them is not one that will offer a balance and nurturing environment during the high school years.   

We hope to see you at the next ‘Insight’ into area high schools. – Michelle Morrison

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