Making The Grade
Our children are important to us and thus by extension so is their education.
Looking for the right private school is not an easy task and just as arduous as looking for a college when the time comes. From testing, application, interviews and even more testing, it all can seem overwhelming for both the parents and children. But don’t despair; here we give you some insight into what some of the local institutions are looking for and their suggestions to make the process easier.
Testing & Beyond
The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) helps education professionals in independent or private schools to judge a student’s academic level before entering grades 4 through 12. Private schools use the SSAT along with interviews, previous academic grades, teacher recommendations, and even additional testing.
Kilian Forgus, Chair of the Secondary School Admission Test Board and Associate Headmaster for Enrollment and Planning at Saint Andrew’s School, advises to go and talk. Do your homework on each school, it is just as important to go on a tour and meet their community.
“As soon as you have a whisper of interest, contact the school and go for a visit. This will give you a real feel for the school and its community right away. And make sure to talk to the teachers, students and other families, too,” Forgus suggests.
Touring as many schools as possible is a general consensus among education professionals. Lynne Fazzio, Director of Admissions with University School of NSU, says, “Don’t be afraid to talk to the students and teachers. Also, make sure to tour during the school day when possible to get a real feel for the campus.”
A Place for Each of Us
Every school looks for different qualities in potential students. Some are more competitive academically while others look for qualities such as community service, creativity, critical thinking, teamwork, dedication, being well-rounded and more.
And each school offers different facilities, academic focuses, and types of school communities. Whether you want a small community that is intimate and has a personal feel like Grandview Preparatory, or your child will fit better into a large community with a direct connection to a college university like University School of NSU, find what is the best fit beyond just the academics.
Alan Stob, Director of Advancement at Grandview Preparatory in Boca Raton, takes it a step further regarding tours by suggesting to “shadow” another student for a day.
“It gives [your child] a chance to see if they are comfortable in the school community,” Stob advises.
The Right Fit
Finding a school that has a program dedicated to the area of your scholastic focus is a good start. Good examples are the music program at Sagemont School in Weston, or the makers’ space of lo-tech and hi-tech creation at Grandview. Paul and Maggie Fischer High School has specific classes for pre-law, pre-med and pre-enginieering to prepare students for the next step in their academic careers.
Looking at a school’s ap-proach to their students is also important. Saint Andrews School focuses on building a better student through character by putting their honor above all else. St. Joan of Arc Catholic School stresses community service and it plays a big part of daily student life.
There are many ways to prepare for applying to these schools, including taking prep courses for the SSAT, early testing, and visiting as many schools.
Fazzio recommends getting your applications in as soon as possible is a big step in the right direction. “Many schools have a wait list as grades fill up. The early bird DOES catch the worm in this case,” she says.
Patricia Del Pozo, Director of Admission at Weston Christian Academy, strongly suggests to get your teacher reference letters early on before they dismiss for either summer or winter breaks.
“Also, make sure your child is in school and gets to school on time. Attendance records are reviewed by private schools and show your commitment to your child’s education,” says Del Pozo.
Forgus has the biggest tip as far as preparing for your child’s educational future.
“The best advice I can give is try to instill a love of reading as early on as you can,” shares Forgus.
David Posnack Jewish Day School Paul and Maggie Fischer High School
5890 South Pine Island Rd., Suite A, Davie | www.posnackschool.org
336 NW Spanish River Blvd., Boca Raton | 561.416.9737 | www.grandviewprep.net
The Sagemont School
Lower School Campus
1570 Sagemont Way, Weston | 954.384.5454
Upper School Campus
2585 Glades Circle, Weston | 954.389.2454 | www.sagemont.com
Saint Andrew’s School
3900 Jog Rd., Boca Raton | 561.210.2000 | www.saintandrews.net
St. Joan of Arc Catholic School
501 SW 3rd Ave., Boca Raton | 561.392.7974 | www.stjoan.org
University School of NSU
3375 SW 75th Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Weston Christian Academy
1420 Indian Trace, Weston | 954.349.9224 | www.westonchristianacademy.org