Points to Consider When Choosing a Private School
Choosing a private school for your child is a highly personal decision, and with the plethora of standout schools in the Towson area, narrowing your choices can seem daunting. Fortunately, fall is the ideal time to start your search, since most schools offer open houses and information days throughout October and November. Here are important points to consider.
Start by exploring the educational mission and culture of the school, through website searches and by asking teachers, students and parents about the values that infuse life inside the classroom and out.
At Friends School of Baltimore, the educational program is deeply rooted in the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship.
“These values have shaped the learning and experience for generations of our students,” says Head of School Matt Micciche, who notes that the Quaker philosophy shapes daily interactions, big and small. “We see it in the kindness and respect with which our teachers and students treat one another, in the concern we share for the environment and in our efforts to make the world a better place,” he says.
By learning more about the school’s educational approach, beyond-the-classroom learning opportunities and even the philosophy around athletics, you can get a sense of whether the overall culture is one that meshes well with your own family’s values.
Single-Sex vs. Co-Ed
Would your child thrive better at a co-ed school or one that is single-sex?
Leaders of co-ed schools tout the benefits of bringing girls and boys together in a learning community that more closely represents a microcosm of the real world.
“As a co-ed school, we get to witness, support and nurture magical moments, every day, that occur among children, families and teachers across all identities,” says Priscilla Morales, associate head of school at the Park School of Baltimore. “Learning about, and from, our differences is essential to Park’s approach to education … and provides for a dynamic school experience, inclusive community life and the ability to engage in healthy relationships with an incredibly diverse range of people.”
But some parents prefer the single-sex option, notes Boys’ Latin Headmaster Christopher Post.
“Boys and girls learn differently. It’s something we should embrace, not shy away from,” he says. For example, he says, “Boys want to know the ‘whys’ behind lessons, not just the ‘hows.’ Boys are most engaged seeing the connection between the information they are learning and its relevance in their own lives and the greater community.”
As a result, Post says teachers at Boys’ Latin emphasize context and practical applications whenever possible.
All-girls schools, such as Roland Park Country School for Girls, point to studies showing that girls’ school graduates have more confidence in their math and computer abilities and are more likely to see college as a stepping stone to graduate school.
Say ‘Yes’ to Shadowing
Once you’ve narrowed your choices, plan to have your child spend a “shadow” day at your top picks to attend classes and talk with fellow students. Children often emerge from their shadow day with a very clear sense of where they feel most at home.
That was certainly the case for Meghan Friedman’s son, Riley, now in 10th grade at Loyola Blakefield.
“I don’t think Riley knew exactly what he was looking for until he found it,” Meghan says. “When he shadowed at Loyola, he liked everything from the dress code to the teaching style and, of course, the students! It was just a great fit.”