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Schools with Academic Support

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Replies to: Schools with Academic Support

  • shakeitoffshakeitoff 17 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Thanks, CTMom21 for your comment! We go to revisit at Cheshire tomorrow and then I will be able to form my opinions too :).
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  • vwlizardvwlizard 319 replies33 threads Member
    @shakeitoff - Please report back. These schools don't get a lot of space on CC and this thread is invaluable for families looking beyond the big names or for schools with academic support.
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  • HarkishHarkish 5 replies1 threads New Member
    edited April 16
    This has been a great thread, for someone just getting started on trying to find a good option for our highly gifted, executive function challenged, internet addicted (damn you, Fortnite!) 10th grade son. He is brilliant at reading, writing and math – if he would just study.

    He wants to attend a school where he can play baseball, so that rules out a school I really liked the looks of, Darrow. We have family near Tabor, but are not sure of their learning support. He is also very shy, socially challenged like many gifted kids – so we would want a very inclusive, supportive environment. Perhaps one of the smaller schools – not NMH.

    Looking at the posts here and my own search, it seems good options are Proctor, VT Academy, Cushing, Berkshire, Brewster. Brewster in particular seems to have strong learning support and pastoral care – both important for us and our boy. Proctor also seems to have strong learning support and closer engagement with kids.

    Any views on what would be a good fit, given the above?
    edited April 16
    Post edited by MaineLonghorn on
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  • vwlizardvwlizard 319 replies33 threads Member
    @Harkish - I have a baseball player and looked at many of the same schools. Brewster's baseball has been pretty weak the last few years. They really give it little attention as they are a big basketball/hockey/LAX school. You'll actually find most schools in New England aren't that strong in baseball as the season is so short. The good thing is they get out so early that there is no conflict with tournament/showcase teams.
    I think all of the schools you picked are similar in that they offer strong academic support, but very different in their "feel". It will come down to what feels right for you and your son. Because of your list, you might also want to consider New Hampton (I loved this one) and Kimball Union.
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  • vwlizardvwlizard 319 replies33 threads Member
    Just came back from our Forman revisit and I am blown away by this school. I think Forman's revisit was a bit different from the schools that just offer an academic support program in that it was the focus of their revisit, rather than just a session or table at the activities fair. I already knew it was the right fit and that they had great academic support. After our revisit today, I can not even begin to tell you how impressed I am with how they scaffold academics/academic behaviors, the thoughtfulness of every student-centered decision they make, the academic/club/athletic/social options, the college counseling and just everything about the place. I am a VERY picky education consumer and know how to look beyond the dog and pony show and I could not find anything I wasn't happy with.


    I think it's difficult to determine whether to go the learning difference school route or academic support route and everyone has to make the best decision they can, but I feel really good knowing that although we went with the LD school route, there is not one thing I feel we are giving up. In fact, I think Forman had even more options than some of the "typical" schools we looked at.

    If anyone is considering Forman, feel free to PM me.
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1831 replies34 threads Senior Member
    @vwlizard Would love your opinion of the schools you visited for a quirkly boy who is not athletic... I worry about the social scene if it is dominated by jocks? Is that unfounded?
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  • vwlizardvwlizard 319 replies33 threads Member
    @CaliMex - What level of "quirky" are we talking about? Is this a kid that just marches to his own drummer, or would he need some support around his quirkiness?

    We didn't visit Dublin because it doesn't have my kid's sport but it seems highly regarded for "quirky" kids. Solebury could be another option. Both are small, "gentle" schools with established academic support programs and less of an emphasis on athletics.

    Eagle Hill is a LD only school that not only has quirky kids but a quirky curriculum.

    Even at the schools we visited that were known for recruiting athletes, I didn't really see the "typical jocks". Since most boarding schools work on pushing kids out of their comfort zones, boarding school jocks were definitely more well rounded.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5934 replies10 threads Senior Member
    I agree that Solebury could be a good option for a non-athletic, quirky kid. It is very small, but they seem to do a good job of meeting kids wherever they are.
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  • chemmchimneychemmchimney 784 replies1 threads Member
    @Calimex I was going to say Dublin as well - they have a lot for the nonathlete (maker room I think I recall? Robotics club etc) as well as APs etc. It reminds me of NMH in a small package. You definitely do not need to be a jock at Darrow either but it has a looser and more arty vibe than Dublin imho - lots of musicians and artists. Very good for quirky kids because the kids get a lot of attention from advisors and teachers and they are willing to differentiate a good deal for individual students and cater to their strengths.
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  • chemmchimneychemmchimney 784 replies1 threads Member
    Proctor has a cool kid outdoorsy vibe and felt a little less friendly to us based on our two tours there and reports from one friend’s son who transferred but your milage may vary. Two more schools to consider if support needed is on the lighter end and you prefer a cozier vibe might be Millbrook (They have a zoo!) and Suffield which I believe may have Baseball?. I know my older daughter went there for softball games.
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1831 replies34 threads Senior Member
    I really appreciate all the wisdom and knowledge shared here. THANK YOU.
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  • chemmchimneychemmchimney 784 replies1 threads Member
    I checked and Suffield appears to have a very strong baseball team fyi @Harkish and they tick all of your other boxes too - they even teach the kids mindfulness. They have a reputation for being a warm community. We did not get to tour only because they had no spots open at the time we would have applied (daughter was a late applicant) but it is a school not mentioned as often here with good support that is becoming increasingly popular. They offer extra academic support 2-4x a week for kids who need that.
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  • CTMom21CTMom21 478 replies2 threads Member
    we know two kids at Suffield who both love it (one is a baseball player — just got back from the spring break trip to FL). The other kid is more artsy. I’m not sure if either uses the learning center but both kids (and their parents) love the school. One plus for Suffield is that although it’s in a small, quaint town, it’s very easy to get to and convenient to the airport. I think they’ve also just installed a second turf field — very helpful with the long and wet winters.
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  • soxmomsoxmom 744 replies21 threads Member
    Reporting back on revisits to Brewster and Proctor. Both schools have excellent learning support, so not surprisingly we were very impressed by both schools. The two schools have a lot in common, as evidenced by the fact that we saw many of the same families are both revisit days. Since it would seem that many families would end up comparing the two, I thought it might be useful to list the differences I gleaned from our visits.

    Academics:
    Brewster's "team teaching" approach is really interesting, and I don't think any other school out there does anything quite like it. As part of the revisit day, parents got to sit in (in small groups) in an actual meeting of a teacher team, and it was very impressive how well all the teachers knew the kids in their group and what was going on with them. I was also very interested to see how the leveled approach to teaching works in practice -- in any given class, students are either identified as "foundational," "standard," or "accelerated." While all the kids in the class are then working on the same unit -- for instance, all are reading Hamlet in English -- but some of the work is made more or less challenging depending on which group the student is a part of. We were given an example of how it works in teaching English (for instance, when the kids are done reading Hamlet, they write their own soliloquy, and the grading rubric has different options that are easier or harder -- like writing in prose vs. blank verse). We also saw it in practice sitting in on an actual live precalc class. It seemed to work pretty well there, though I sensed that at least one of the accelerated kids was a little bored. Also, the class was taught by a teacher that everyone adores, and I wonder if it might work less well in the hands of a less exceptional teacher.
    Proctor's academics seemed more traditional, at least for a boarding school (or maybe I just got a less good sense of it because the revisit day didn't include sitting in on a class). This may just have been my own perception, but I felt like a lot of the focus at the Brewster revisit day (at least with the parents) was spent really discussing academics in great detail, but the focus at Proctor was more even-handed -- equal focus on academics, athletics, extra-curriculars (both formal and informal), and just generally how the kids are happy.

    Learning Support:
    As mentioned above, both schools are top of the heap when it comes to learning support among New England boarding schools (leaving aside specialized schools). For what it's worth, the educational consultant that we worked with put Brewster and Proctor in their own category, ahead of other similar schools, in terms of really walking the walk when it comes to support. Roughly a third of the students at both schools are part of the learning support system, clearly no stigma attached among the kids, the kids themselves rave about how helpful the programs have been to them, and both schools have 2:1 student/teacher ratios as the norm, with stepped-down levels of support that the kids can transition into as they master the skills to work more independently. My perception was that the learning specialists at Brewster spend somewhat more time teaching specific skills or strategies that might help a particular student a bit in the abstract, and then often, but maybe not always, practicing those skills in the context of an actual homework assignment. By (slight) contrast, the Proctor learning specialists seem more like their main focus is working with the kids through their actual schoolwork (i.e., kid comes into the tutorial on Monday, and the specialist might say, I see you have a science test coming up on Wednesday, let's talk about how you might best prepare for the test, talks about some different options, and then the student can spend some time in the tutorial actually doing the test studying).

    Athletics/Extracurriculars:
    Both schools are sporty, though I didn't have a particular sense that you have to be a sports start to be popular (though clearly the boys at Brewster who play in the "prep" team and go on to D-I programs and then the NBA are pretty darn cool). Proctor certainly has a more outdoorsy vibe, both just generally and among its sports programs specifically. Skiing (nordic and alpine) is huge, with its own downhill ski area literally across the street, but also teams for mountain-biking, road biking, kayaking, and probably some other outdoorsy ones I'm forgetting about.
    Brewster's extracurriculars mostly sounded pretty standard to me, though it gets high marks for its stellar robotics team. Proctor has some more unusual extracurricular activities, like woods team, maple sugaring, polar dips in the pond, etc.

    Off Campus/Experiential Learning Opportunities:
    This is a big differentiator for the two schools. Brewster does have a global education program, with the ability to spend a trimester abroad either in Spain or Chile. But Proctor has many more programs, and it is a much bigger part of the school's focus. There are terms abroad in France, Costa Rica, Spain, plus the "Ocean Classroom" (living on a traditional schooner) and "Mountain Classroom" (traveling the American Southwest). Additionally, even the athletic teams that travel for training have some pretty non-traditional (and cool!) trips - for instance, the nordic ski team does a trip to Norway for the famous Birkebeiner race, the baseball team does spring training in the Dominican Republic and works with kids in an orphanage while there. I think the stats were something like 70% of the students do one of the term-long program, and that doesn't even count all the kids who travel for project period, athletic team training, or the school's summer service programs.

    Atmosphere:
    Brewster is a bit preppier, perhaps because there's an actual dress code (collared shirt, no jeans). Proctor is just neat and clean (so no athletic pants/shorts but anything else goes, pretty much). The Brewster kids can walk into the charming little town of Wolfeboro, so more opportunities for eating out with friends, getting ice cream, etc. Proctor is more isolated, though the school seems to do a good job with school-run weekend trips to Concord or Hanover, and the like.
    Dorms are mixed by age at Proctor (except 9th grade boys, who live together), whereas at Brewster they are grade specific. You keep the same advisor the whole time at Proctor, unless you want to switch. By contrast, at Brewster, you advisor has to be one of the teachers who is on your academic "team," so you have a different advisor each year.

    Phew, that's all I got! All in all, they were both fabulous schools that showed themselves well at revisit day and through the whole admissions process. I'd be happy to answer any questions if there's something I didn't cover, or something I said that wasn't clear. (oh, and soxboy picked Proctor!)
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5934 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Great write-up, @soxmom . You are an amazing resource! And congratulations on what sounds like a promising decision!
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  • vwlizardvwlizard 319 replies33 threads Member
    We only did open houses at those schools but got the same impressions. We were very impressed with Brewster's team approach and felt it would be nearly impossible for a kid to slip through the cracks.

    One note: Proctors off-campus programs are amazing and included in the price of admission. However, their spring training, sports trips, and summer trips are not included. Remember that those costs can add up quickly at an already pricey school. Also, sometimes (but rarely) students will need to make arrangements for a summer course if there is no other way to fit it into their schedule the year they do an off-campus program. That can also add up.

    Proctor's HOS has an amazing blog on their website. Although DS will not be attending there, I still follow it as it is so timely. He does not shy away from issues that many schools don't talk about.
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  • vwlizardvwlizard 319 replies33 threads Member
    I just want to highlight another school with impressive academic support We only attended an open house and not a revisit, but I feel what a school chooses to show you at open house says a lot about it.

    New Hampton - I'd consider this the most impressive academic support program we saw. I loved that the academic dean could tell you exactly how the program worked and even knew which kids were in the program. To me, this highlighted that their AS program was truly integrated into all aspects of their academic program. The director of the program was also impressive in how she could talk about both the depth and breadth of the program. Their ability to know exactly what students were doing in class and conference with teachers seemed to work like a well oiled machine. Their academic dean also teaches English and was able to provide specific examples of how academic support has worked with him on accommodations and how he has sought their help when he felt he needed it.

    We saw many kids from a very well known school for dyslexic students on this tour, which tells me that they have had previous students that were very successful in this program. (We saw the same students at Brewster).

    Not only did we love the AS program, but we also loved everything about this school. I can't understand why we don't hear more about it on CC.

    Kimball Union was another school we loved with a great program that they highlighted at open house, I just can't remember as many details.

    Both programs sent parents weekly feedback (I believe, I could be wrong on the timing of feedback, but it was frequent and consistent)

    Before the application process, I sent inquiries to a number of schools asking if they could look at DS neuropsych to see if he would be a good fit. Both New Hampton and Kimball Union's responses were the most detailed which made me very comfortable with the level of communication one would receive if they had a child in the program.
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  • soxmomsoxmom 744 replies21 threads Member
    We also looked at Kimball Union and liked it very much. Definitely a strong academic support program, though I think not quite as integrated into the fabric of the school and curriculum as the AS programs at Brewster and Proctor. But I'd have been perfectly happy for soxboy to go to KUA. The steepness of the hill that they have to walk up and down every day was a turn off for him though (the stuff that kids focus on, sheesh!).

    One useful thing to know about all these schools is that they were willing to take a current neuropsych evaluation instead of standardized testing. This was a huge plus in the application process for us, as soxboy has some anxiety issues and having to take the SSAT, and then feel like he was being judged on it, was a real negative for him. Plus I felt like a school that would take a neuropsych evaluation in lieu of an SSAT score is one that's really willing to look at who your kid is -- strengths and weaknesses -- and make an honest assessment of whether they think they can help your kid. That spoke volumes to me.
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1831 replies34 threads Senior Member
    Here's a West Coast school I stumbled upon, in case there are West Coast families looking for schools ... or in case any of you New Englanders want to send your kids somewhere sunny so you have an excuse to visit when Winter overstays its welcome!

    https://www.dunnschool.org/programs-learning-sup-options.php

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  • GOSOX1GOSOX1 9 replies0 threads New Member
    We are looking for an environment where our DD - highly gifted, poor executive function, exam anxiety driven in part by procrastination - can’t fall through the cracks - as an earlier poster wrote, that means required study hall, scheduled meals with adults, small classes, advisor check-ins, longer class times, and lots of available help in the way of office hours...

    That sounds about right... Also, inclusive and friendly environment, where a quirky kid would be welcomed. Sports not important but required involvement in sports / extracurriculars might be a good option. We'd also like to avoid paying extra for academic support, but have that built into the programme.

    What schools would fit this description? And do the ones we are looking at fit:
    Tabor
    Proctor
    Harkness
    Tilton
    Brewster
    Holderness
    even.Milton - which is selective but apparently has good academic support.

    Thanks @soxmom for the great comments on Brewster and Proctor. DD likes Vermont Academy but we'd like a bit more push on the academics. That said, could be great and we will probably visit. We're planning on a long trip this summer, so any comments on these and suggestions on others that we should consider would help our planning!
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