Rethinking High School

How we educate high school students in the U.S. needs to change. Our high schools are no longer relevant to the needs of 21st century learners and the system must be restructured.

The early college program also reduces the amount of actual time it will take a student to complete a degree by one year, which could provide one extra year of potential income in their lifetime

This restructuring will allow students to choose from a variety of new study options. The days of “one size fits all” for secondary education services are coming to a close – it is now about providing students with a “customized” course of study in their pursuit of a high school diploma. Students should have a choice among the traditional high school model, a community high-school model (a hybrid between traditional and online instruction), and an early-college model that will allow students to graduate with both a high school diploma and an Associate’s degree by taking a fifth year of high school.Central to all three high school study options, or combination of options, is an intensive focus on making each learner’s secondary school experience a successful one (particularly at the freshman level), and offering ubiquitous student access to the Internet both in school and at home (using a variety of mobile computing devices). A synopsis of each program option required in a restructured high school include:Freshman AcademyResearch has shown that the transition between middle and high school is one of the most difficult developmental challenges a person faces in life. Students who are not successful in 9th grade are six times more likely to drop out before completing high school compared to their peers. The reasons for such a high failure rate include a variety of student factors upon entering high school:- Physically and emotionally changing;- Different setting with different expectations and experiences;- Moving from a school environment designed to nurture children to one thatis designed to produce independent young adults;- Academics are more challenging;- Young teenagers are immersed with older teens.A Freshman Academy helps to ameliorate these potential problems and issues by creating a “school within a school” environment as part of the larger high school student population.

Personal devices can enhance and enrich learning opportunities both at home and at school

This is done by clustering 9th grade teaching teams and classrooms together, and utilizing group of upper classmen that will provide peer support. The program ensures that teachers have adequate student-focused common planning time and engage in cross-curricular instruction. Parent involvement and peer mentoring are also key components of the Academy.Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)Technology plays a large role in our students’ lives today. Personal devices can enhance and enrich learning opportunities both at home and at school. High schools today must be committed to allowing responsible, learning-centered use of personal devices at school so as to provide as many pathways to understanding and learning as possible for students.

These students will complete a traditional six-year college education (four years of high school and two years of community college) in only five years, thereby accelerating their baccalaureate and/or graduate degrees

Access to robust wireless networks is vital to student success these days using a variety of mobile computing devices. These devices can be either school-provided or personal laptops, tablets, or smart phone; however access to the Internet must be filtered to be in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Access from a personal device should be primarily for Internet use, but students can be given access to their own email account and document folder on the school’s network server.For purposes of allowing students ubiquitous access to the Internet for instructional purposes, “technology” means a privately-owned wireless and/or portable electronic hand-held equipment that includes, but is not limited to: existing and emerging mobile communication systems and smart technologies, portable Internet devices, hand-held entertainment systems or portable information technology systems that can be used for word processing, wireless Internet access, image capture/recording, sound recording, and information transmitting / receiving/storing.Hybrid Community High SchoolThe creation of a hybrid community high school, in addition to traditional high, merges traditional and online learning into one customizable secondary education program. This hybrid is particularly attractive to students who do not do well in the traditional high school setting, such students at-risk of academic failure, gifted students, or students who are just plain bored and need something different. This merger results in one, united flexible-program high school for “non-traditional” high school students who, for one reason or another, would prefer to complete many of their required credits online instead of in the classroom.Every student attending the hybrid program receives a graduation plan during their enrollment period that best meets their individual needs. To ensure that students have the best opportunity for success with a program of this sort, a mandatory three-week (15 day) orientation is required of all new students designed to prepare them for independent online work using an online curriculum (such as e2020), while the faculty assesses each student’s strengths and weaknesses.In my school district, students are required to complete a series of in-classroom courses that include: Career Cruising, Effective Note-Taking Study Skills, and Strategies for Academic Success before being placed in one of three tiers that allow for independent work online anywhere, any place, and at any time. Each tier is designed to offer a customized blend of in-school support with a student-centered approach to providing educational services online on the student’s terms, not the staff’s terms. Students are assigned to an instructional track based on in-class performance, online attendance and activity, grades, and level of self-motivation after they complete orientation.Students are reevaluated at the end of every session, at which time they may be assigned to a new instructional tier based on the above criteria. Tier 1 students are required to attend class five days per week, receiving the most in-class support and supervision. Tier 2 students receive in-school instruction 2 to 4 days per week. Tier 3 students need only attend school one day per week. In all three tiers, students are able to work an unlimited number of hours at home and have access to e2020 courses 24 hours per day. All students have access to teacher support via email or phone. Additionally, students in the hybrid community high school program must have access to the regular high school program and allowed to take courses there and participate in the full range of extracurricular programs alongside their traditional high-school peers.Early College ProgramIt is widely accepted that a majority of today’s jobs, eight or nine of every 10, require education beyond a high-school diploma. It is also known from U.S. Census data that most adults in the U.S. have not yet completed a two or four year degree. Although nearly 70% of high-school graduates start some college classes, only about 20% actually complete a degree. One significant problem today is that many students find that completing a college degree is difficult because of the many conflicting financial and time commitment priorities they face in today’s economy. A successful pathway to a college degree now requires a coordinated collaboration among high school, college, family, and community partners.In my school district in Michigan, we have developed an early college program for a cohort of 50 committed students who agree to a rigorous academic program beginning in the 11th grade and continuing in a dual-enrollment program with a local community college through a 13th year in order to obtain both a High School Diploma and an Associate’s Degree. The program also provides an occupational track for students who wish to pursue a one year Certificate or Associates degree in a skill based area of technology, health, or business.The cost of tuition for obtaining the Associate’s degree is paid by the school district, which utilizes it’s per pupil state aid payments to fully fund the program. There are very little out-of-pocket costs to the students. The savings on two full years of college tuition alone is estimated to range from $8,000 to $50,000 and beyond. The early college program also reduces the amount of actual time it will take a student to complete a degree by one year, which could provide one extra year of potential income in their lifetime. This earning opportunity value could range anywhere from $25,000 to $80,000 or more, depending on the student’s degree. Although textbook expenses are covered, some personal transportation costs will be the obligation of the student; although bus service between our high school and the community college is provided free of charge.Early college students are enrolled in both high school and college for grades 11, 12, and 13. These students will complete a traditional six-year college education (four years of high school and two years of community college) in only five years, thereby accelerating their baccalaureate and/or graduate degrees.Students with the Associate’s Degree are eligible transfer to most colleges and universities throughout the country. Because the first two years of tuition will be paid for by the school district, the student eligibility for sports scholarships, academic scholarships, and/or Pell grants will be extended to the year following the 13th year. Students do not lose eligibility for opportunities for college scholarships or federal financial aid because of their participation in our early college program.Students who may not wish to pursue a Bachelor’s degree program are eligible to enter into a career program that provides employable skills while earning credits toward an Associate’s Degree or completion of a Certificate in the field of technology, computer occupations, nursing, and health/medical areas. Those obtaining an Associate’s Degree in any the community college’s technical/career program are eligible to transfer to universities or colleges that have approved Bachelor degree agreements with the community college for their specific area of study.Through a unique partnership, counselors from both our high school and the community college provide services to early college students that support them throughout high school and their 13th year.SummaryBy rethinking how high school instruction is delivered, American secondary education can begin offering a truly customizable to its students. In so doing, we can produce high school and Associate’s degree graduates with a comprehensive set of critical thinking and tech-savvy skills that will serve our country well as these students compete for the new jobs in our global economy.

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School and Community

My career in education as teacher, coach, and administrator, in various types of schools, has given me significant and comprehensive experience in the academic, athletic, and business arena. I have a background in parochial, public, Quaker, and nonsectarian single sex and coed schools. These include very small schools of 100+ students to very large schools of over 900 students.

Schools must provide programs and opportunities that can involve all community members during the course of the year

Through these experiences, I have gained an appreciation for different approaches to the educational process and the management of educational institutions. Some schools focused on discipline, others on academics, while still others on athletics or the arts. Some schools were well endowed and in a strong position fiscally while others were struggling to meet costs and raise funds. Others had a clear mission and vision while some were trying to determine what kind of institution they wanted to be.However, regardless of the focus or position of the school, what I believe was always of great importance and high necessity was a solid and firm sense of community. The schools that I felt would survive and thrive, and where I felt most attached, were the schools where the culture fostered a strong feeling of togetherness, family, and community. When the Head of School, teachers, administrators, and Board at these institutions worked tirelessly to encourage a communal atmosphere, the school prospered on most levels and was able to focus on its core mission and vision. A collaborative effort from all involved was needed to initiate and sustain this level of teamwork and community.

A teacher’s mission is to assist children with their intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and physical development, as well as encourage students to help each other

Therefore, to accomplish this task, it is necessary to understand the impact and contribution of the many dimensions making up the community.First, are the families, beginning with the students. It is vitally important every student feel that the school is a place of comfort and safety. A place where they can be themselves, explore themselves, share themselves and, at the same time, be a part of something bigger than themselves. As a teacher or administrator, developing a solid relationship with the students is critical. Some students spend 7 to 10 hours a day at school, so it is important for both teachers and administrators to nurture that relationship. That’s nearly one-third of the day spent at our institutions and the main reason why our schools need to be communal.

Part of sustaining an institution means having a certain level of transparency from the administration, specifically the Head of School

Every student must feel accepted and supported during the best and worst of times. They need to know they are being treated like a unique person, then as a student. When a student realizes a school is a haven for the positive, there is nothing they will not do to help maintain that feeling, enhance the community, and, simply, be the best person they can be.Within this type of community, students feel valued and respected. They are engaged, expressing their opinions positively and openly, while attempting creative problem solving. Students are appreciated and celebrated for their individuality, taught to listen to themselves as well as listen attentively, thoughtfully and reasonably to the ideas and opinions of others. This can only be achieved if the students have the feeling of belonging. And that feeling of belonging can only take hold if the community is one where there is a conscious effort to establish and promote it.Parents are an integral part of the community. Obviously, their support in many ways is critical to a school’s culture and sustainability. In the same way a school strives to make every student feel welcome and safe, the institution must make the same effort in regards to the parents. In a school of any size, the diversity of the parent body could be vast. Different cultures, religions, nationalities, and other preferences are all present in our schools. From those who can afford to pay the high tuition without financial aid, to those who qualify for almost full need, to those caught in the middle, they are all part of a school community. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the school to assure that all families feel supported and have the opportunity to become involved.All too often, schools forget those families who cannot take time off from work to come to school events or serve on committees. Schools must provide programs and opportunities that can involve all community members during the course of the year. This, again, needs to be a conscious effort by the school. Whether it’s through the parent’s association, the athletic department, or the Board of Trustees, every single family must have some chance to participate and/or have their voice heard.When people can converse, barriers are broken down, stereotypes are demystified, and insight replaces misconceptions. This strengthens the school as a community, allowing the needed interaction amongst the various constituents. This interaction is always a good thing for without it, factions can form which could destroy the very fabric and cohesiveness of an institution.Teachers direct the engine of the school. Just as the executive chef manages the engine of a successful restaurant, the kitchen, the teachers manage the classroom. The teacher’s classroom prepares the food of learning. Having numerous years of experience in the classroom, I clearly understand the need for passionate teachers in the community. A passionate teacher has the welfare of the student at his/her core and the ability to encourage students to learn through doing. A teacher’s mission is to assist children with their intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and physical development, as well as encourage students to help each other. This helps create a community that builds its foundation on a strong, safe, welcoming, and nurturing environment.Teachers are the heart of the school. When that heart is beating strongly, it means the teachers are invested. They have been involved in decision making, had their opinions heard and generally, had a level of transparency from the administration that allows them to fully understand the vision and mission of the school. This support and level of trust is imperative to a strong and creative educational environment.The administrators of a school are the leaders of the institution. They must be a group where risk taking and thinking creatively is encouraged for everyone. An institution must not only provide stimulation for the entire community to discover and implement creative solutions and ideas, but also the motivation to aspire to something higher and better. People perform best when they take personal ownership of their surroundings and situations. To achieve this, effective delegation of both authority and responsibility must be part of the equation.The administration allows members of the community to learn to be effective learners and contributors and, more importantly, leaders. This is not to say that the lead administrator, the Head of School, is totally hands-off. However, this approach allows the Head a greater freedom and flexibility to oversee the entire community, and act as a coach and mentor, leading through effective and positive influence, yet clearly recognizing that the ultimate responsibility for all decisions in an institution rests at the top.Given the above, this next point has become extremely important to every independent school, as well as most business institutions. While I believe the sense of community is vastly important to the success of a school, none of the aforementioned areas will be possible unless the school is fiscally responsible and sustainable. Most schools have become complex financial enterprises, needing to be strategic in their approach both in how they spend money and how they raise money.Marketing, positioning, branding, consumer mentality, accountability and a whole host of other business-like terms have found their way into reports and procedures as the process and expense of operating a school has changed and increased. Maintenance, food, books, insurance, and salaries have all increased over the years. Higher tuitions are coupled with the need for increased financial assistance, becoming a high priority as we witness the need to help families afford these fine educational communities. Schools, especially independent schools, face the challenge of being financially sustainable while meeting the challenges of maintaining quality programs, good teachers, and the diversity of the community.To assist in keeping a school sustainable, the importance of developing that sense of community is vital. Part of sustaining an institution means having a certain level of transparency from the administration, specifically the Head of School. I believe it is extremely important that the various constituents of the school community fully understand the state of the school. Without the knowledge of the state of the school, members develop their own ideas which may or may not be accurate.However, when people have accurate information and can make educated decisions, they will do what is necessary to stabilize and strengthen the school. It becomes a collaborative effort to design, implement, and promote the mission, vision, and culture of the school. It’s an expanded, cohesive concept of “advancement” and everyone from the development office to the business office to the parent’s association to the Board of Trustees, become focused on the single task of building a cooperative, sustainable community. When the academic, financial, demographic, and global dimensions of the school are clearly identified and understood, I believe there is very little that will encumber a school. Schools are complex, exciting, and interesting places.The challenge of building a school community is an ongoing process. Each year, it is incumbent upon the school to take a close look at how it is achieving this goal. I’ve always looked forward to working in a school community that creates an atmosphere where conversation and inquiry can occur, and initiatives and challenges are resolved in a productive and collaborative way. A school where the leadership is grounded in moral foundations that project positive influence and motivation, scholarly stimulation, and personalized reflection, is a school where exciting and authentic pursuits and changes occur. It is also a school where the culture promotes what I call a “HIP” environment- Honesty, Integrity, Passion. The school culture instills these values in their students and community and they are empowered for life.In any institution, there is always work to be done. We must always strive to engage in and collectively pursue that which makes us feel more relevant and committed to the overall task at hand. With a solid mission, a clear vision and a leader of high moral and ethical character, that goal can be accomplished.

Bob Thomas is a former admissions and financial aid administrator in independent schools. He was also a classroom teacher for 25 years. He has taught all levels from elementary through college. If you have any questions concerning independent schools, contact Bob.


The Exceptional Qualities of a School Principal

The School Principal should possess special qualities of being a leader. These qualities will determine him/her of his/her qualifications in managing his/her people in the school vineyard. Without these extra-ordinary strengths or qualities of the school leader, he/she should not be worthy of his/her job as school leaders.

These qualities are as follows:a) Transparency
The School Principal should first be transparent in his/her work as school leader

This might be the reasons why there are school leaders who fail to functions successfully in their job as School Principal. If only all of School Leaders have the exceptional skills or qualities of being a leader, then we are absolutely sure that our educational system is on the way to standard and excellence.Being the leader of an educational institution, the School Principal has to possess remarkable qualities which make him/her superb among others in an organization. These qualities are as follows:a) Transparency
The School Principal should first be transparent in his/her work as school leader. He/She should have the clean conscience of facing the night and day with all the honesty inside and outside of himself/herself. The one that has the drive to teach his/her people to bring back the value of honesty because he/ she is a model of such virtue. Before the School Principal could mandate honesty and transparency among his/her people, he/she should be a paragon of such virtue for others to follow. The old adage “Honesty is the best Policy” is used by the Department of Education (DepEd) as a living reminder to all school leaders in the educational vineyard.

I even told her once ” I am sure you are not sleeping Ma’am because every slits and slats of the school issues and concerns you have all the prepared solutions”

Posting this adage to every classroom in the school cascades the virtue of honesty from the school leader to the students. For that, transparency becomes the aftermath of honesty which the school leader should possess.b) Good Visionary
The School Principal should visualize about the future of the school. This kind of special quality is considered an exceptional one because not all of us can have a good visionary gift. He or she can be a fortune- teller who could guess what happen in the future. But unlike the fortune- teller, the School Principal can guess what will happen in a month or year to come through his/ her anticipating skills, decision- making skills, extra-sensory skill and through his/her experience. My School Principal almost never sleep for the night because even she is about to sleep or even she is already sleeping, she is still bringing with her the plans and the future of her school.

These are only few instances of the risk- taking decisions of School Principal in his/her journey of leadership

I even told her once ” I am sure you are not sleeping Ma’am because every slits and slats of the school issues and concerns you have all the prepared solutions”. She replied “We should always dream. We have to dream big, bigger than our dream!” To prove that, while others including me were already snoring in the deepest silent night, she sent text messages to our cellphones about instructions of our job as coordinators, teaching personnel even to PTA officers of the school. That is a school principal’s additional quality to ponder with.c) Risk Taker
Another quality of a school leader is being a risk taker not for himself/herself but for his/her constituents. The best leader is the one who tries to cross the unchartered seas and see for himself what lies beyond. This is another exceptional skill of being a leader. Most of the educational leaders are obedient and they conform to the norm of the department. But among those many, someone has to be brave enough to wave his might and risk his job just for the improvement of his/her school and people. The very good example of how the School Principal is risking his career is his/her decision to divert funds for another projects. This is a violation of department’s policy. But sometimes, a leader should do the diversion for school improvement and students’ academic improvement too. The School Principal’s role is not really an easy one because if his/ her decision won’t give the right outcomes, then he/she would find himself/herself in jail. However, many of the School Leaders become successful because they have with them the quality of being a risk taker. They are taking risks in their abrupt decision on matters of immediate solution to a problem. Example to this is sending to hospital an ailing student or a student who meets an accident inside the school premises without parent’s permit. Another is to report to Department of Social Worker and Development (DSWD) personnel of student’s case of parental abuse and to uniformed men of drug addiction problem. These are only few instances of the risk- taking decisions of School Principal in his/her journey of leadership.d) An Eye and Heart for his/her People
The School Principal should capitalize his/her own personnel. He/She should know who his /her potential personnel are. He/She should not leave those non-performing ones but tries to think of remedies/ solutions in making these people in his/her vineyard the best as possible. While giving better opportunities to those the performing ones, best challenges or opportunities will also be given to the later. Aside from that, the School leader should think of what joy, comfort, reward, incentives and award he/she could exhaust from his/her leadership for the betterment of his/her human capital. The feeling of self-awareness of people’s emotion should be profoundly considered by School Principal in order that the harmonious relationship exists within the organization. School Principal should accept his/her weakness and should listen to his/her people so that everyone has a place in an organization. By this, School Principal should not have only an eye for the school problems but an eye for his/her people’s potentials, emotions and needs.Do you have these exceptional qualities? Then, you are now a sure candidate for school principal’s job.

SUSAN TAN APAREJO is a Master Teacher II of Gingoog City Comprehensive National High School. She is also a College Instructor, and a Research Consultant.


Crisis Communication Teams in Schools

The possibility of having new businesses move to town to provide more jobs is linked to the success of public schools. Simply put, the crisis communication team, which extends across the entire staff, happens to be an essential part of an American community.When one works for a large school system, the ways of the school become acculturated in the individual. This does not necessarily happen the first year, and a novice will probably make a few mistakes along the way.

Every unit plays an essential role

Using the chain of command as well as diplomacy when dealing with crisis situations that involve the American public schools will help everyone attain a positive outcome in the long run. This article aims to help communicators understand the many crisis situations that can occur in the public school systems located in the United States. Since they serve a wide range of people, almost anything can happen and it’s best to be prepared beforehand.Testing practices are very important and one possible crisis situation could occur when something goes wrong during the administration of a test. Extended test time, cheating, or nonstandard testing are all possible occurrences that would cause a crisis situation. Test administrators are directed to report any abnormalities immediately. Testing crises have occurred throughout the state and sometimes they have even appeared in the news when there was no foundation for the accusations. Almost anything can become a crisis in testing–such as, for example, when a child reports that he or she had a couple of extra minutes to take a test. Throughout the country, the worst accusations have been made when teachers have been accused of changing the answers on the test.

Test administrators are directed to report any abnormalities immediately

This is one possible crisis situation that is always on the back of the curriculum director’s mind.In one Georgian county in the early 2000s, a teacher taped her students’ lips together during a classroom game. Although the teacher thought it was a fun game, that situation evoked a publicity crisis and caused the Department of Social Services to have to conduct an investigation. It was very embarrassing for the county schools, and the teacher had to be moved to a new location. She was fortunate not to have been fired for such behavior, but she was well-liked by her peers and by students.

They, too, should be provided with detailed maps of schools in both paper and PDF forms

Perhaps the author of this paper would have dismissed her permanently.Other obstacles that a school system could encounter are those of terrorism, a lone gunman, an angry parent, bullying, natural disasters including tornadoes, storms, earthquakes, and other unforeseen accusations in the news. Abuse of students and staff, even death due to natural causes are some possibilities. One year, a student died during a soccer game due to an undiagnosed heart condition. This exemplified how unexpected crises can take place from one moment to the next in a large organization. The school staff needs to have a plan in place in order to discuss these crises with the public in a humane and caring manner that will not ruin the reputation of the school system.The stakeholders are the people who are most interested in the success of the schools. Stakeholders also benefit from the schools’ successes. They have an ongoing investment in our educational institutions and care about what happens. Not all stakeholders are the same because they are affected differently, but some of the most important stakeholders are the company’s customers who have the special rights of clients. Both customers and employees have an interest in the organization’s success. From one perspective, the employee’s interest can be seen as a little selfish because if things do not go well, there is always the possibility of a massive layoff of staff. This means that employees need to give good service to customers who include students, parents, and local businesses. People who have invested money in the school, those who have given gifts or tax money (the taxpayers, themselves), are also stakeholders because they want to see that their donations are wisely invested, well appropriated, and that they help young students. People who promote our schools and who dream of our schools’ successes are also stakeholders. The ones who drive the buses and the ones who teach the lessons have invested their time and, thus, are valuable stakeholders to be considered as well as respected.The governors of the various states are, without a doubt, major stakeholders. One might go even as far as to say the President of the United States and the federal government itself are stakeholders. Anyone who is involved in the politics of the states and who has power in public education cares about what becomes of the American public schools.Each year, we compare tests between various counties within the states, and we compare tests between various states in the nation to determine which states are performing well, despite the fact that we know there are many other factors–other than testing–that demonstrate that a student has had an effective education. Although there is more to education than testing (like learning to analyze the world), testing is still looming over education’s crisis management field.Parents and students themselves will always be essential stakeholders. Most parents want their children to have an effective education that will bring them much success in the future. More than anything else, parents want to know that their children are safe and protected in the schools. Parents care about the video system installed in the schools to see what goes on during the day, to ensure children’s safety, and they also care about having emergency plans in place to deter criminals from endangering children. Furthermore, the fear of guns and arms looms over the schools.Therefore, police are stationed in the schools to protect each and every campus. Of course, the police are both stakeholders and an essential part of crisis management teams.Perhaps the public schools have more risk issues and situations to deal with than any other entity. Schools deal with taking care of homeless families, even with spiritual and moral issues of the community. Therefore, the crisis management team must be as flexible as possible (and open-minded) to be able to help people from various cultures, from various ethnicities, and even from various spiritualities. In order to assess all the risks, our school crisis management teams must brainstorm to come up with a list of all possible occurrences. We need input from all members of the community, including the Islamic community, the Christians, the Hindus, as well as many others. One of the best resources that we can use to imagine what crises could befall our community is the newspaper (through research of the news in general). The news provides excellent documentation of crisis situations and how they have been handled by other school systems as well as how, in some instances, the law punished people who were responsible for man-made crises.Some of the issues that have occurred in other schools throughout the country have included: nepotism, money laundering, buying services for rewards, abuse of teachers by students, abuse of students by teachers, students carrying weapons to school, drugs and alcohol, gangs, sexting, bullying (staff-to-staff and student-to-student bullying and more), depression, heart attack, death, sport-injuries, missing persons, rape, cheating, automobile accidents, delinquency, unfair hiring practices, discrimination, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. It is evident that all schools have much to contend with from year to year, and those who are on the crisis management team have to remain calm, cool, and collect for the sake of the greater good.We cannot (nor do we want) to have complete control over the family lives and the personal lives of students who come into the schools. As a large crisis management team working in unison, school systems will do their best to protect students and to report any dangers to the Departments of Social Services immediately as needed to protect students. The safety of all involved is of utmost importance!When it comes to the reputation of our organizations, school systems must insist that all teachers and staff have high moral ethics. Everyone must take a short course in ethics, read the rules of ethics, and even sign a promise to be ethical staff members. Otherwise, he or she will have his or her certificate revoked. Ethics means different things to different people, but to a teacher it means treating others with love and respect.No matter how important the standardized test scores are in order to receive federal or state funding, there is no excuse for cheating on tests or for committing other unethical testing practices. Should one become aware of such practice, he or she must report the incident immediately to his or her administrator. Otherwise, he or she risks termination and revocation of American teacher certification. The whistle-blowers who report cheating are protected under the law and should report to the next highest member of their teams. Strict adherence to ethical and honest behavior is of the essence! There should be a map showing the chain of command, and this map should be provided to all individuals who make up part of the crisis communication teams in public schools.All media organizations are critical to our educational community. Anything that happens in the public schools, no matter where in the nation, becomes scrutinized by readers and listeners who follow the media. For instance, a kindergarten teacher in another county was recently murdered in her home by her mother-in-law who did not agree with a custody order. This became a top news story. Since the deceased woman was a kindergarten teacher, this news impacted her students in a negative manner. Therefore, it was appropriate for that county to utilize the counseling staff to see if kindergarten children needed extra psychological support. (Perhaps, the murderer did not consider the negative impact that her actions would have had on the kindergartners as well as her own grandchildren.)With such a broad community in the American public schools, from time to time they will be in the media for positive or negative reasons; therefore, it is also essential to provide the media with positive and uplifting news on an ongoing basis, especially since schools have more uplifting news and triumphs by their students then they have negative news. The school’s crisis management team mustn’t neglect promoting all of the good things that are taking place in the educational community.Students often win national competitions in music, in visual arts, and in dance. They receive scholarships to colleges for academic and sports performance. Students and teachers often donate food to help the poor, and they do other nice things for the community. Many a time, there are international art shows with art by students across the globe. There is so much more going on to demonstrate excellence in the schools, and it is the responsibility of the crisis communications team to make certain that this is evident. In fact, showing the world all the good things that are going on in our schools stimulates more goodness from the rest of the world!Our American schools promote teacher training, educational opportunities, job opportunities, and visiting speakers through excellent websites that are updated continuously by technology teams. Pages are dedicated to urgent notices such as school closings, when there is snow or bad weather. In the case of an emergency, a fire or other threat, technology teams will make the news immediately available to the community. The police, another essential facet of the crisis management team, will give directions to the public by means of the news media in addition to making announcements on websites.Crisis management teams must be well structured. Every unit plays an essential role. The role of the superintendent of schools is to interpret data and to make strategic decisions as to whether a crisis should be reported to the public. Crises may be man-made or the result of nature. Regardless, the superintendent is at the top of the chain of command where he or she must be the first to know about the issues, especially if the crises are potentially dangerous to children, staff, or any other members of the community. The second in the chain of command consists of assistant superintendents who report directly to the superintendent of schools. These assistant superintendents work as teams, and each one has to be assigned to specific schools. Assistant superintendents travel to various campuses to meet with principals and with assistant principals as needed regarding any crises that might occur. Furthermore, they try to anticipate future crises, informing both teachers and principals of potential issues throughout the year.The school principals, as the third in the chain of command, are responsible for carrying out orders by the superintendent of schools. People who are underneath them in the chain of command should report any complaints and concerns to them. Principals decide if a crisis is of a serious enough nature to be reported to the superintendent of schools. They are also responsible for drafting letters that will be sent to parents, in some cases by snail-mail and, in other cases, by email.Teachers carry out orders given to them by the principals. Any suspicions they have should be reported immediately to the principals. Issues regarding student abuse or neglect must be reported immediately, both to principals and to social workers, regardless of anyone else’s lack of response or excuses. In fact, if anyone fails to report abuse or danger, he or she risks losing teacher licensing as well as his or her job.The assistant principals are regularly responsible for an emergency-preparedness program which includes, but is not limited to, fire drills, disaster drills, and other drills. In the event of an unforeseen disaster, both the principal and the assistant principals are in charge of giving directions as to what students and teachers should do. A color coding system can be implemented so that assistant principals can convey messages to teachers without alarming students and without revealing the messages to potential invaders.Social workers are not necessarily obligated to report what they discover to the superintendent of schools, but they are required to report all incidences of abuse and neglect to the State Department of Children’s Services and in some cases to the local police for further investigation. Social service employees are also required to report any teachers, principals, and staff members who fail to report abuse and neglect.Teachers are responsible for their classrooms. By law, they are required to report any cases of child abuse and neglect directly to social service workers as well as to the principal and the assistant principal. Teachers should also report natural disasters directly to their supervisors, including principals and assistant principals who will in turn report directly to the superintendent of schools. This chain of command must be strictly followed unless there is some impediment to getting the message to one’s immediate supervisor.The media relations department is essential to members of the crisis response team. Furthermore, this department is an important stakeholder. It has to be proactive to give our schools a positive image as the school consults directly with the superintendent to prepare articles for the paper and for the television media. The media relations department reports to the police and serves as an extra support to explain the various crises to the community.The school police are officers stationed on campus who are responsible for removing any weapons that might be brought on campus by students or parents. They have the authority to arrest anyone on campus who breaks the law or who endangers the community. School police utilize special dogs to help them do inspections to find drugs.Victim service specialists assist victims of abuse. They can assist victims of spousal abuse or of family abuse, homeless people and victims of natural disasters. Counselors and school psychologists actively listen to students and respect their opinions in times of need. They work with families to find solutions. Psychologists conduct testing on campus to determine the needs of students while they also challenge any inconsistencies in what students say and do.The technology department is responsible for sending email messages that have been approved by the superintendent to the rest of the community, to the news media, and to other individuals on a case-by-case basis. Meanwhile, nurses administer medication and help determine if students need to be sent home or to the hospital. Local emergency departments play a pivotal role in times of disaster and should be provided with detailed maps of all of schools. Likewise, firemen play another essential role and will immediately respond in the event of an emergency or disaster. They, too, should be provided with detailed maps of schools in both paper and PDF forms.Parents’ and Teachers’ associations are essential stakeholders that help get additional community support. These groups are important for voting on issues that pertain to both to students and to potential crises. Having the support of stakeholders, such as the parents and teachers, simplifies the jobs of the crisis communication team as these people have the power to help prevent unnecessary emergencies.Running a large school system impacts the lives of so many precious children and is a tremendous responsibility that needs to be taken seriously. The mission and vision of the crisis communication team is that of ensuring that all children will have an enjoyable and pleasant learning experience while receiving nutritious meals in a safe and stimulating environment. These crisis communication teams should consider every possible eventuality and to try to protect precious students from any unexpected eventualities.One of the best things that the crisis communications team can do is to implement a drill before a crisis occurs. A team cannot be effective unless it practices first. This will lead to a walk-through, and all parties will regularly participate on a larger scale drill. Such preparedness, in addition to solid ethics, is a step in the right direction. Preparation is the key to success in emergencies that afflict our public schools, and he crisis communication team is ready to protect the community.

Laura Gail Sweeney is a writer, educator, and life coach.


How Do Schools Buy?

We often get asked about buying patterns in schools, about the whole procurement process in schools, about how schools buy. The answer is straightforward – all schools and departments buy in different ways. Dependant on who your target is in the school will depend on how they buy, and therefore how you target them, how often you market to them, and how you deal with them in the long term.Let’s take a few examples of different types of schools and school buyers and examine how each group buys from the private sector.

So, if you are a catering supplier who previously had the mammoth (and potentially lucrative) task of becoming an approved local authority supplier, you are now able to go directly to the school to deal with them

Academies – academy schools are only prevalent in England and have grown significantly in number over the last 5 years. The key thing to remember when looking at how academy schools buy is that they are free from local authority control. Academy schools can make their own purchasing decisions on things like catering facilities and grounds maintenance. So, if you are a catering supplier who previously had the mammoth (and potentially lucrative) task of becoming an approved local authority supplier, you are now able to go directly to the school to deal with them. Although the contracts may be smaller they are potentially easier to obtain. Academy schools buy in a different way, therefore, to many other types of school who are under the guidance of the local authority.Independent schools – independent schools buy from the public sector as they see fit.

Indeed budget holders within schools buy in a variety of different ways, according to their needs and their budgets

The clue is in the name, and we will focus here on fee paying schools. They follow the national curriculum like all other schools, but beyond that independent schools are just that – independent. They choose which pupils they take in, they choose which teachers they employ, which subjects they offer, and most importantly, what they buy. Independent schools will almost always have a Bursar or Business Manager whose job it is to oversee the procurement process, and who would often be the first point of contact for any private sector looking to sell to independent schools. The second thing to note about how independent schools buy is that their annual budgets are much less strict. Public sectors schools buy according to a fixed budget, if they don’t spend it all they can be penalised the following year. As independent schools are run as commercial operations, this is not the case.

If your product or service is aimed at these school buyers, then you should consider marketing to them at key budget intervals, such as the beginning and end of the school year

They set their own budgets, which means these schools buy all year round, so you can sell to them all year round.Maintenance staff – maintenance staff in schools buy according to a long term need, rather than the here and now. These school staff buy based on a long term requirement, and will often use the same supplier over and over again on fixed length contracts. Examples might be maintenance contracts they have with alarm companies, CCTV suppliers or gardening businesses. These can be potentially lucrative contracts to win as budget will be allocated to you for a couple of years rather than a one off payment for a one off supply. All schools buy these facilities and contracts from third party suppliers, and here a longer term view is required. You may not be able to knock on the facilities managers door and become the new alarm contractor, but a steady process of relationship building and a good inbound marketing strategy will help you win contracts with these school buyers.Heads of department – heads of departments in schools buy according to a set budget, but unlike maintenance managers who will have long term contracts, these staff buy based on a fixed budget and a current need. They are more likely to buy school textbooks and learning resources according to current demand and current supply. Offering a head of department in a school the chance to buy a new book or a new interactive resource is far easier than trying to get a grounds manager to replace the CCTV system. If your product or service is aimed at these school buyers, then you should consider marketing to them at key budget intervals, such as the beginning and end of the school year. These buyers will always look to allocate 100% of their budget in order that it is maintained the following year and so these departments’ heads in schools buy according to what they need now.In brief, schools buy in a variety of different ways. Indeed budget holders within schools buy in a variety of different ways, according to their needs and their budgets. It is worth considering therefore, who is your target, how do they go about making buying decisions, and what is the most effective way to become a supplier to them. is the largest online portal helping schools buy and private sector enterprises sell to schools.


Charter Schools: Whether or Not They’re Part of the Problem or Solution and 19+ Should-Know Facts

As you read on, keep these facts in mind:• The 2015 Kids Count report found that children living in poverty jumped from 18% to 22% between 2008 and 2013.• According to the 2013 U.S.

There is no requirement that board members live in the community or answer to parents

Census Bureau, the child poverty rate among African-Americans was 39%.• In 2103, 48% of African-American children and 37% of Latino children had no parent working a full-time, year-round job.• The Economic Policy Institute finds that, by age of 14, 25% of African-American children have had a parent-typically a dad-imprisoned; on any given day, 10% of them have had a parent in jail or prison, and that’s 4 times more than in 1980.Now on to the charter vs. traditional public school controversy…By the 1960s and 70s, innovative schools were opening in such cities as Philadelphia and Chicago. Then in 1988, Albert Shanker, as president of the American Federation of Teachers, spoke about the meagre 20% of students benefitting from a traditional public education. His solution: charter schools, “where teachers would be given the opportunity to draw upon their expertise to create high-performing educational laboratories from which the traditional public schools could learn.

More than 50% of charter students are black and Latino and hail predominantly from urban centers

“That was the intent, the promise, and, in 1992, the first true charter school, City Academy High School, opened its doors in St. Paul, Minnesota.In the following years, charter schools found advocates in both Presidents Clinton and G.W.

Charters are not subject to the same regulations as traditional public schools

Bush, but it took Obama to make it a federal school reform priority and included it as an application incentive in his $4.35 billion Race to the Top grant program.Now, Donald Trump is at the helm, and his controversial Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is a vocal charter school champion.Indeed, her resume includes serving as chairman of the American Federation for Children (AFC). Describing itself as “the nation’s leading school choice advocacy group,” it boasts that it’s “a national leader in the fight to boldly reform America’s broken education system.”Nevertheless and as an aside, a 2016 Gallup survey found that 76% of parents are “broadly satisfied with the education their oldest child receives;” 36% are “completely satisfied.”Meanwhile, the AFC site further states, “The American Federation for Children is breaking down barriers to educational choice by creating an education revolution that empowers parents to choose the best educational environment for their children, so all children, especially low-income children, have access to a quality education.”And that, say charter advocates, is the whole point-the ability to offer parents alternative school settings for their children, ones that are innovative, competitive, and accountable. Moreover, unlike traditional public schools, if performance standards are not met, the charter is revoked, said school is shut down.What’s not to like? It all sounds so good, so promising, and yet there are opponents aplenty.Their numbers include countless public school educators and administrators, and the likes of highly esteemed education historian Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education Foundation.Another is columnist and Education Law Center senior attorney Wendy Lecker, who writes that, “When charters replace public schools, parents lose their voice in education. Charter boards are not democratically elected. There is no requirement that board members live in the community or answer to parents. Often, corporate members are corporate executives with no children in charter schools.”She goes on to explain: “In reality, choice in the form of charters increases segregation and devastates community public schools in our most distressed cities. As charters have proliferated in predominantly minority cities, children and parents of color bear the brunt of this destruction.”Wherein lies the truth?1. Today, charter schools operate in 43 states and educate some 3.1 million children.2. Between the school years 2003-04 and 2013-14, public charter schools grew from 3.1% to 6.6%.3. Between those same years, the total number of such schools increased from 3,000 to 6,900; 15% are for-profit.4. Charters are tuition-free public schools; they do not offer any religious instruction.5. Charters, for the most part, are funded by federal, state, and local taxpayer dollars.6. These schools are open to all children, including English language learners and those with disabilities.7. While open to all, when few seats are available, students are chosen by lottery-the luck of the draw, in other words.8. In school year 2013-14, California boasted 513,400 charter school students, more than any other state and amounting to 8% of all its public school students. D.C. followed with 33,200 such students.9. The number of Hispanic children in charters has increased from 21% to 30%; the number of white students has decreased from 42% to 35%, and for blacks, enrollment is down from 32% to 27%.10. More than 50% of charter students are black and Latino and hail predominantly from urban centers.11. As said, unlike traditional public schools which operate via a central office and a school board, charters do not.12. Authorizers can be non-profits, such as universities, but more often are local school boards that, after evaluating a proposal, gives a charter the go-ahead-or not.13. Charter authorizers cannot be for-profit companies, but can be managed by for-profit companies.14. Once approved, authorizers monitor a charter’s performance and, after several years, determines if a school deserves to remain open.15. A school’s charter is typically reviewed every 3 to 5 years-and revoked if curriculum, achievement standards, and managerial guidelines are not met.16. Teachers can open charter schools.17. Charters are not subject to the same regulations as traditional public schools.18. Charters design their own curriculum and decide which companies to do business with in terms of food and paper suppliers, and the like.19. According to the Stanford University’s 2015 Online Charter School Study, 70% of those online students are falling behind their traditional public school peers, losing the equivalent of 72 days in reading in a typical school year and 180 days in math.And now comes Greg Toppo’s USA Today top-of-the fold, front page headline: “Few charter school grads earn degrees: High school success often fails students when they reach the college level.”So much for all the charter school hype, right? Actually, though, that headline may be misleading.Read down to the article’s sixth paragraph and find this: “Statistics for charter schools are hard to come by, but the best estimate puts charters’ college persistence rate at about 23%. To be fair, the rate overall for low-income students-the kind of students typically served by charters-is even worse: just 9%. For low-income, high-minority urban public schools, most comparable to charters, the rate is 15%.”To be fair, indeed, and given those poverty and incarceration rates introduced initially, can any school, charter or otherwise, produce consistently top-notch performance results?

Carol is a learning specialist who worked with middle school children and their parents at the Methacton School District in Pennsylvania for more than 25 years and now supervises student teachers at Gwynedd-Mercy University and Ursinus College. Along with the booklet, 149 Parenting School-Wise Tips: Intermediate Grades Up, and numerous articles in such publications as Teaching Pre-K-8 and Curious Parents, she has authored three successful learning guidebooks: Getting School-Wise: A Student Guidebook, Other-Wise and School-Wise: A Parent Guidebook, and ESL Activities for Every Month of the School Year. For more information and resouces, go to


7 Deadly Myths about Public School

Myth #1: “Public schools aren’t as good as private schools.”First off, this is rather a meaningless assertion to begin with, since there’s no such thing as a “typical” public school. Because the American public school system is decentralized, quality varies tremendously.

Your child can get a first class, quality education from your local public school

The fact is, however, that, depending on what indicator you choose to use, many public schools outperform private schools.It is important to understand that knowledge has no address. Knowledge does not “reside” in one location or another. In fact, now that the internet has broken down nearly all the barriers that once limited information access, this reality is more true than ever. Your child can get a first class, quality education from your local public school.Saying that private schools are “better” than public schools is a lot like saying that books you purchase from Barnes Noble are “better” than those you obtain from your local public library. The knowledge, the access is the same. It’s what you (and your child) do with the books that matters. Likewise, it is what you and your child do with your public school that will determine his or her educational outcomes.

The fact of the matter is that people living in affluent communities tend to have fewer children

Frankly, we think that blaming your child’s public school if your child is not achieving academically is a lot like blaming your gym if you’re out of shape. It’s not the fault of the institution; it’s what you do there that makes the crucial difference.Your child can absolutely still obtain an Ivy league-worthy education from the public school system. That’s assuming that he or she is willing to work hard in the top level classes, of course.Myth #2: “Private schools have better teachers than public schools.

Public school teachers tend to come from the middle classes and to be drawn to these types of schools

“Let’s address this one head-on. Recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics indicate that public school teachers are better educated than private school teachers with more experience, on average. For example, public school teachers are more likely to have a master’s degree than private school teachers.Public schools experience less teacher turnover, mainly because public school teachers are much better paid. This means public school teachers are more experienced. Also, Public schools require professional credentials for teachers and administrators. Many private school teachers work there because they lack the required credentials for a public school job.It is undoubtedly true that public schools have their share of teachers who are duds, so you are going to have to be proactive about seeking out the best teachers for your child. Stay alert and stay in touch with guidance personnel to steer your towards the most talented teachers.Myth #3: “My child will meet bad influences in public school.”It’s true that public schools have to serve everyone, including students who have no interest in learning. But they don’t have to serve them all equally. Because of tracking, every public school of sufficient size has “schools within the school”–subsets of high achieving students who take classes together. The environment within this subset is entirely different from what exists in lower-achieving classrooms.It’s also a mistake to assume that private schools are filled with high achievers. Many children in private school were placed there precisely because they failed to do what they needed to do to achieve in public school. Some even go to private school because they were expelled from public school! This is certainly not the minority, but it does happen.Don’t kid yourself into believing that private schools somehow insulate your children from bad influences. Depending on the student culture, the environment in a private school can be extremely decadent, anti-intellectual, and drug-fueled.Remember: the higher tracks are the “inside track” to higher achievement and high-performing peers within public schools.Myth #4: “Public schools lack academic rigor.”It used to be true that a student who didn’t care much about learning could slide through high school in low-level classes and “earn” a diploma without learning much. Recent changes in accountability and exit-testing have largely eliminated this option, and public schools now face the predictable problem of large numbers of low-achieving students not graduating.On the other end of the grading scale, however, more public school students than ever are now taking advantage of high caliber learning opportunities such as AP and Honors courses, which–at their best–rival what is available in the most exclusive private schools.There are multiple realities in a typical public school, but students who are motivated to challenge themselves with the highest level of classes are apt to find that intellectual challenges are abundant in public school. (Your typical public school teacher is more likely to complain that too few students rise to the challenge than that too few challenges exist for motivated students.)Consider this factoid, as well: 64% of admitted Harvard students went to public school. If there were enough challenges for these students in public school, there are enough challenges for your child, as well.Myth #5: “My child will have better extracurricular activities in private school.”This one is a no-brainer. Public schools, due to their sheer size both in terms of budget and student numbers, have the competititve edge in offering a wider array of extracurricular opportunities. This is definitely an area in which the public schools excel.Public schools clearly have the advantage in terms of being able to offer more competitive athletic programs and a full selection of band and orchestral choices. Small private schools just don’t have the numbers to support the same breadth of offerings–at least not at a competitive level.The reality is, some extracurriculars may become so competitive at the public high school that it is difficult for a casual participant to make the teams or achieve distinction. In this case, a private school might provide greater opportunities for involvement. It is important to point out that programs wax or wane within public schools, depending on personnel and the quality of student involvement.Myth #6: “I have to live in a rich neighborhood to find good public schools.”This myth seems to make sense on its face. It seems logical to assume that the public schools in the more affluent areas would be “better” than the public schools in less affluent areas. Because the tax base is stronger, you would expect to find increased support for school funding, as well.Don’t assume that this is necessarily the case, however. The fact of the matter is that people living in affluent communities tend to have fewer children. (Or, none at all. Sometimes people decide to focus on earning money instead of rearing children, or affluent communities may include many older adults with grown children.) Hence, support for the public schools may be lacking.Also, affluent families may not balk at the cost of private education, so the public schools may find themselves left with only the students from the lowest socioeconomic sectors. The children of affluent families also tend not to be “upwardly-mobile” and the schools in affluent areas are prone to taking on a cultural sense of entitlement. This is not a helpful environment for those seeking academic advancement for their children.The reality is that public schools tend to excel in areas with a strong middle class. Public school teachers tend to come from the middle classes and to be drawn to these types of schools. So, as long as you are avoiding severely under-funded schools in impoverished areas, do not worry that your child is not attending the “posh” public school in your area.Myth #7: “I have no choice but to send my child to my local public school.”This has traditionally been the case, but is no longer necessarily true. Options are expanding. For one thing, many public school districts are willing to accept “out-of-area” students. Usually, this depends on enrollment numbers. Some school districts may impose a “tuition” fee; others may not. It never hurts to ask. Also, within your own district, you may be able to request permission for your child to attend a different school than the one he or she is “zoned” to attend. Again, the amount of flexibility possibility may depend upon enrollment numbers. Sometimes, a district may be happy to honor this type of request, if it helps to relieve crowding in one school.”School choice” has been a hot-button political issue for some time. Despite the fact that it has never really officially caught on, it does seem that there is a trend towards increased school options. This probably also has a lot to do with basic demographics in many districts. When the numbers are down, schools are more likely to allow transfer students in from other districts. The homeschooling option has drawn off a certain percentage of students in many districts, leaving spaces in some classrooms. Bear in mind, if you choose this option, thast you will probably have to provide your own transportation. Obviously, they are not going to be willing to send a bus to come and pick up a child who lives “out-of-area.”Also, there are increasing school options within districts. Magnet schools and Governor’s or Honor’s schools are examples of this. These are public schools that cater to students with specialized interests and students may have to apply to qualify for admission. There are increasing opportunities for online public K-12 education. Some of these schools are for-profit; others are operated as public magnet schools and your child’s public school “allotment” may be used to pay for enrollment. Finally, the No Child Left Behind Act includes a stipulation that basically says that students in so-called “failing” Title 1 schools need to be offered expanded transfer options. The law has been in place long enough for these consequences to apply, so that will increase school choice options for more students. The bottom line is, be sure to do your homework and research all options available to you and your child.

Dr. Bonnie Kerrigan Snyder, D.Ed. is the author of “The Public School Parent’s Guide to Success: How to Beat Private School and Homeschooling,” available at A Doctor of Education, she has worked as a public school teacher, guidance counselor, and teacher educator. She is public schooling her own children in Lancaster, PA.


How To Build Up A Full Collection Of Chalet School Books

The Chalet School series by Elinor Brent-Dyer seems to be one of the most popular school series. There were 62 books altogether which is why it is so difficult to collect the whole set. There were also additional books and newsletters. Recently new authors have written ‘fill-in’ books where they feel there should be extra information not provided by the author herself.

I have included a list at the end of the article (It includes all of the original books plus some additional ones

Some of the books are extremely rare and some paperbacks, even reprints can sell for £30+ making some of the hardback first editions extremely valuable indeed.If you have started a collection or would like to I have some tips for you. Firstly decide whether you wish to collect paperbacks, hardbacks or either and whether you want to get every title or just the actual series of books and not the newsletters, additional books and books by other authors. Once you have decided you will need to get together a list of these titles. Most of the more modern reprints carry a full list of titles in the front and you can also look these up on various websites. I have included a list at the end of the article (It includes all of the original books plus some additional ones. I know I have missed some of the additional ones out).Now you need to know where to start looking for these books. EBay is an obvious choice but some of the rarer books are hard to find even on eBay and when they do appear it is easy to be outbid.

These are ideal if you are looking to fill gaps in your collection and do not mind that the books are a different size to the originals

However it is still worth looking and listing on the ‘wants’ pages of eBay. There are other websites that sell second hand books but they do tend to be more expensive. Therefore I would tend to look in second hand bookshops, bookfairs and at charity book sales. You can sometimes pick up the titles slightly cheaper and you can also ask the dealers to look out for copies for you and put them by for you. Girls Gone By publish some of the out of print titles in unabridged paperbacks and some new authors who have written ‘fill-in’ books.

I know I have missed some of the additional ones out)

These go out of print very quickly but you can usually find copies on eBay for a while. These are ideal if you are looking to fill gaps in your collection and do not mind that the books are a different size to the originals. Other publishers of fill-in titles are Bettany Press and Troubador publishing.If you want to, for example, read the whole series but also get a nice hardback collection, I would recommend buying any title you see that you do not own. It may take a long time to get every book in hardback and you can always sell the paperback on eBay once you find a hardback version. You can also do this with paperbacks if you want a particular cover style or if you want to replace some of your tattier copies with neater ones.Full List of TitlesOriginal series by Elinor Brent-Dyer : The School at the Chalet, Jo of the Chalet School, The Princess of the Chalet School, The Head Girl of the Chalet School, Rivals of the Chalet School, Eustatia Goes to the Chalet School, The Chalet School and Jo, The Chalet School in Camp, The Exploits of the Chalet School, The Chalet School and the Lintons, A Rebel at the Chalet School, The New Houseat the Chalet School, Jo Returns to the Chalet School, The New Chalet School, A United Chalet School, The Chalet School in Exile, The Chalet School at War, The Highland Twins at the Chalet School, Lavender Leigh at the Chalet School, Gay Lambert at the Chalet School, Jo to the Rescue, The Mystery at the Chalet School, Tom Tackles the Chalet School, The Chalet School and Rosalie, Three go to the Chalet School, The Chalet School and the Island, Peggy of the Chalet School, Carola Storms the Chalet School, The Wrong Chalet School, Shocks for the Chalet School, The Chalet School in the Oberland, Bride Leads the Chalet School, Changes for the Chalet School, Jey Goes to the Oberland, The Chalet School and Barbara, The Chalet School Does it Again, A Chalet Girl From Kenya, Mary-Lou of the Chalet School, A Genius at the Chalet School, Chalet School Fete, A Problem for the Chalet School, The New Mistress at the Chalet School, Excitements at the Chalet School, The Coming of Age of the Chalet School, The Chalet School and Richenda, Trials for the Chalet School, Theodora and the Chalet School, Joey and Co in the Tirol, Ruey Richardson at the Chalet School, A Leader in the Chalet School, The Chalet School Wins the Trick, A Future Chalet School Girl, The Feud in the Chalet School, The Chalet School Triplets, The Chalet School Reunion, Jane and the Chalet School, Redheads at the Chalet School, Adrienne and the Chalet School, Summer Term at the Chalet School, Challebge for the Chalet School, Two Samsat theChalet School, Althea Joins the Chalet School, Prefects at the Chalet SchoolRelated Books : The Chalet Book for Girls, The Second Chalet Book for Girls, The Third Chalet Book for Girls, The Chalet Girls Cookbook, Chalet School Newsletters, Friends of the Chalet School Annuals.’Fill-in’ titles : Visitors for the Chalet School by Helen McClelland, Gillian of the Chalet School by Carol Allan, The Chalet School and Robin by Caroline German, A Chalet School Headmistress by Helen Barber, New Beginnings at the Chalet School by Heather Paisley, Peace Comes to the Chalet School by Katherine Bruce, The Chalet School Librarian by Pat Willimott, Hilda Annersley Headmistress by Lesley Green.

To buy new and second-hand Chalet School books please go to []Rachel Henderson is from Stroud, Glos, UK and married with twin sons.


What is an “Alternative School?”

Alternative schools have been established since about the late 1970s to meet the needs of children and adolescents who cannot learn effectively in a traditional school environment (i.e., conventional public or private schools) due to behavioral issues, certain medical conditions, learning challenges, and or psychological issues.

Parents and students need to be prepared to visit all schools under consideration and participate in interviews with school staff as well as visit the campus and speak wit other current students

In general, alternative schools have more complete educational and developmental objectives than standard schools. They often have program fundamentals that focus on improving student self-esteem, fostering growth of individuality, and enhancing social skills. Alternative schools are more flexible in their administration and organization, which allows for more variety in educational programs.Once available primarily for disruptive students and those at risk for dropping out of a traditional school environment, alternative schools have expanded significantly in purpose as educators, parents, and wider communities recognize that many adolescents may not learn successfully in a traditional school environment. For children and adolescents with behavioral and psychological issues, such as depression, personality disorders, substance use and abuse, and violence, alternative schools may provide a safer therapeutic environment and more individualized attention than traditional schools.For children and adolescents with certain medical conditions and learning challenges such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Asperger’s syndrome, and dyslexia, alternative schools may provide combined clinical and education services in one place to ease learning. Alternative school structure and curriculum varies depending on the educational goals and desired student population. Alternative schools may not be accessible or available locally and may require additional daily travel or residential boarding by the student.

Not all have a therapeutic component

Usually, local alternatives to public schools do not require a monthly tuition, while private schools do require parents to pay a monthly tuition for student attendance. A number of different types of alternative schools exist, including the following:o emotional growth boarding schoolso independent private schoolso local alternatives to public schools, for example, at-risk programs, charter schools, magnet schools,o special-needs day schoolso therapeutic wilderness programsFor parents who desire a local alternative to traditional public and private schools, several charter and magnet schools may be available, especially in urban areas. Charter schools are independent, publicly funded schools run by foundations, parents or teachers that are often formed to meet local community needs as an alternative to public schools. Charter schools may have a special focus, such as music or technical skills. As of 2004, virtual charter schools have been formed that offer all courses via the Internet or other distance learning methods for students who need to remain at home or whose parents wish them to remain at home. Magnet schools are public schools that offer specialized programs designed to attract students wishing to enhance particular skills.

Joining a parent support group or receiving parent coaching may help and most emotional growth schools have parent networks

Magnet schools were originally formed in the 1960s and 1970s to promote voluntary racial desegregation in urban school districts. Magnet schools often advertise themselves as “centers of excellence” in a certain area, such as performing arts, mathematics or science.Both charter and magnet schools generally have smaller classes and enhanced extracurricular offerings.For children and adolescents identified as “at-risk” by the public school district, alternative programs may be available.Usually, at-risk alternative programs are offered at a special location within the public school district or at a location that is accessible to and serves multiple public schools (e.g., a county-wide program).At-risk students usually have undergone school psychological and behavioral evaluations that identify them as requiring specialized attention not available in the traditional school environment.Suitable programs may include emotionally disturbed, oppositional, and disruptive students and offer smaller classes, specially trained staff, and closer supervision. Some programs may be dedicated to serving a particular group of at-risk students, such as pregnant teens and teen mothers.Researchers have estimated that more than 280,000 at-risk students in the United States are in alternative programs offered by school districts or private boarding schools. Special-needs day schools focus on special education programs to meet the needs of children and adolescents with learning disabilities and learning challenges. Students with severe ADHD, moderate-to-severe physical or behavioral obstacles, and other specialized educational needs receive customized instruction with individualized lesson plans, special counseling, adaptive physical education, speech therapy, and other supportive services to ensure that they can learn despite educational barriers caused by a medical condition or learning disability. Independent private schools are privately funded schools controlled by an individual or non-government organization. Private schools may be day schools or boarding schools.Private schools require that parents pay tuition and usually have a competitive admissions process requiring students to complete an application and interview. Private schools usually emphasize academic and/or athletic achievement, and student acceptance is based on academic and athletic potential, as well as enthusiasm for being active in school community life. Private schools have smaller classes, a more structured learning environment, a variety of extracurricular activities, and individualized opportunities for developing student creativity and intellect. Therapeutic wilderness programs involve group and individual therapy in an outdoor adventure setting. More and more are now including some academics as parents have their students in these programs all throughout the year and not just in the summer months.These programs generally run for six to eight weeks. Therapeutic wilderness programs use the outdoors to rapidly influence adolescents with at-risk behaviors through emotional and physical challenges that help them understand unhealthy behaviors and gain a more positive sense of self and responsibility.Group therapy employed in a wilderness setting helps adolescents learn how to successfully interact with peers. Therapeutic wilderness programs are appropriate for adolescents who have exhibited extreme defiance; who have a history of running away, poor school performance (failing), sexual promiscuity, substance abuse and violence. Therapeutic wilderness programs often serve as a transition to long-term therapeutic placement in an emotional growth boarding school or residential treatment center depending on the needs of the adolescent. Emotional growth boarding schools integrate therapeutic programs with academics to provide for students whose behavioral, emotional, and psychological issues prevent them from learning effectively in a traditional school environment. Therapeutic components of these schools include daily and weekly group and individual therapy, highly structured learning and living environments, experiential learning, and individualized academic programming. Because the root of many behavioral and emotional challenges is low self-esteem and a negative perception of self, emotional growth programs focus on assisting students permanently change negative self-perceptions, discovering and healing emotional trauma, and identifying and changing negative behaviors. Emotional growth boarding schools usually offer rolling admission; that is, students are accepted year-round and academics are available year-round. This type of operation helps parents whose adolescent needs emergency placement.Candidates for emotional growth boarding schools are enrolled from therapeutic wilderness programs or undergo educational and psychological testing to determine their academic and therapeutic needs.Poor academic performance, a symptom of many emotional problems, is expected, and trained counselors, staff, and teachers provide support to improve student performance. While emotional growth boarding schools use different therapeutic models, depending on the school, most programs do use some sort of incentive-based learning and therapy, wilderness therapy, and intensive counseling to improve student decision-making, interpersonal skills, academic performance, and emotional coping skills.These schools also use the arts, sports, and interaction with animals, such as equine therapy.Parents considering alternative schools need to thoroughly investigate the school’s available curriculum, credentials, staff training, student support services, and student population to make sure that the needs of their adolescent will be met and that long term results are the goal, and not a “quick-fix”. There are a number of wilderness programs available for different types of students. Not all have a therapeutic component. In addition, some wilderness programs employ “boot camp” methods that may be unsafe for children and adolescents. A therapeutic wilderness program needs to have certified and/or trained wilderness counselors and medical support services, as well as provide training in wilderness skills for participants. Making the decision to place an adolescent in an alternative school is difficult and involves a number of factors. For independent private schools and schools that focus on a specific skill or talent, interviews and applications may be necessary, and advanced students and students with special talents have to complete an often-rigorous application process. Parents and students need to be prepared to visit all schools under consideration and participate in interviews with school staff as well as visit the campus and speak wit other current students. For adolescents with special medical needs, clinical care may need to be coordinated with current physicians and clinical staff at the new alternative school.Parents and students need to be prepared to undergo additional educational and medical testing to determine the student’s needs for individualized lesson plans. Schools that accept at-risk children and adolescents require educational and psychological testing, as well as references or recommendations from a professional (usually an educational consultant, psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist).In some situations where the child or adolescent is a danger to himself/herself and/or others, emergency transport services to the therapeutic school are available; specially trained individuals escort the student from their home to the school, even via air travel, to ensure the adolescent’s safety.Parents of at-risk children and adolescents need to be prepared emotionally to handle such situations and also to participate in regular family therapy sessions during the alternative program. Public schools are obligated to provide access to a free and safe education for students, and when their curriculum and support services cannot handle the needs of a particular student, the public school may also be obligated to financially support the student in an alternative school that can better address the student’s needs.To prepare for obtaining such financial support, parents of adolescents whose needs are not being met in the public school need to request an official evaluation by a school psychologist and the formulation of an individualized education plan (IEP), which needs to detail how the public school will meet the adolescent’s needs. Having an independent psychologist or psychiatrist complete testing as well can provide a second opinion. When the IEP does not address the adolescent’s challenges and problems, parents may request that the school pay for an alternative school program. A child rights advocate, educational consultant and/or attorney specializing in educational issues may help guide parents through this process.Students graduating or transferring from alternative schools may continue to require special support, such as counseling, group therapy, in-home support services, or medical care. Support and encouragement from family members is important. Choosing an alternative school is difficult, particularly for parents of at-risk children and adolescents. Parents who feel that their local school district is not adequately addressing the educational needs of their adolescent need to consider an alternative school. Reasons for choosing an alternative school vary, depending on the adolescent, who may:o be an underachiever or failing and require more individualized attentiono be exhibiting behaviors such as acting out, inappropriate sexual activity, oppositional defiance and/or substance abuseo be unusually gifted or motivatedo have a special talent or interest, such as music or science, that cannot be further developed in the present schoolo have been diagnosed with emotional and/or psychological problems that require a more structured therapeutic environmento have engaged in petty criminal behaviors and is becoming more self-destructiveo have special needs due to a learning disability or medical conditionAn educational consultant can help parents choose an alternative school. Educational consultants usually have visited many of the programs and schools they recommend and will consider the student’s educational needs, psychological evaluations and other test results to determine the alternative school that will best meet their needs. An attorney specializing in educational issues may help parents obtain financial support for alternative therapeutic programs from the public school when this may appear to be an option.Educational loans are also available. There is a growing demand for independent school financing which provides assistance for families and their students. These loans assist with private lending for parents or sponsors to cover the cost of a student’s K – 12 educations.Adolescents and at-risk children involved in an emotional growth school require significant involvement and support from family members, since many behavioral and psychological issues are rooted in family dynamics and history (e.g., adoptions, bitter divorce). Hence, parents may need to make significant changes in their family lifestyle to support their adolescent. Joining a parent support group or receiving parent coaching may help and most emotional growth schools have parent networks. Alternative schools for adolescents and at-risk children may seem too structured and too rigorous with regard to emotional therapy for some parents. However, outcome research for these types of schools has shown a high success rate; more than 85 percent of students completing such programs have improved family and peer relationships, attend a college or find a job, and remain free from substance use.

Dore E. Frances, MA. is an experienced Child Rights Advocate, Educational Consultant and Parent Coach.Dore is the founder of Horizon Family Solutions, based in Bend, Oregon. Horizon Family Solutions is widely recognized as a leader in the ethical and professional delivery of consulting services and treatment planning with families nationally and internationally. []


Boarding School Myths

Even if you’re just starting your boarding school research, there’s a good chance you already have an impression of what boarding school is like. This impression might come from books you’ve read, such as “Catcher in the Rye” or “A Separate Peace.” It also might come from movies you’ve watched like “Dead Poet’s Society,” or “School Ties.“These stories, while entertaining, take place in boarding school settings that are different from what you’d find today.

The site offers alumni reviews, detailed school profiles, and interactive tools to help families make better educational choices

An excerpt from an article about college-preparatory boarding schools in The New York Times summarizes these differences well:”To generations of students whose syllabuses include J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye,” boarding school represents the winter of their adolescent discontent; a cold, distant place where parents threaten to send their children if they don’t measure up.Parents dropped their children off in September, picked them up again in June and let the schoolmasters worry about what went on in between.If Holden Caulfield were to return to school for Alumni Day 2001, he would find that the world of proctors and prefects, dorm teas and Mr. Chips has undergone a millennial thaw. Most of the approximately 36,000 students at boarding schools packed their bags willingly and are in daily e-mail contact with mom and dad.

Depending on the school and its policies, cell phones can also be helpful in keeping families connected

The ivy is no longer one shade of green. Students are as likely to room with a real prince of Thailand as with the fresh prince of Bel Air, as the schools reach farther into the public high schools for the majority of their students, making admissions more competitive than ever. The monastic life of formal dinners, daily chapel and cold showers has given way to international theme meals, contemporary ecumenism and interdorm dances.” – Less Austerity, More Diversity at Prep School Today – By VICTORIA GOLDMAN and CATHERINE HAUSMAN, November 12, 2000, New York TimesJust as universities and colleges in the United States have evolved in the past several decades, so have boarding schools. And while the perception of boarding school is changing, there are still some lingering myths that can make you mistakenly think that you wouldn’t fit in at boarding school:Myth 1: You must be very wealthy to go to boarding school.Today, approximately a third of all boarding school students receive financial aid. Financial aid grants can represent a significant portion of tuition depending on the school and your family’s situation.

Chips has undergone a millennial thaw

Boarding school students now increasingly come from public schools and a wider range of family income-levels. In general, boarding schools do their best to make their programs accessible to your family through financial aid grants, loan programs, and merit awards/scholarships. In the past ten years, the emergence of K-12 private school loans has also made boarding school education more accessible.Families that send their kids to boarding school today represent a much wider demographic – geographically, socio-economically and ethnically (see “Myth 2” below). What hasn’t changed is the rigorous academic approach and emphasis on students’ personal growth.Myth 2: Diversity is rare at boarding school.More than a quarter of all boarding students are either students of color or international students. Boarding schools are generally more diverse than public schools – they actively seek diversity and draw from many geographic areas whereas local schooling options are dependent on neighborhood living patterns where populations tend to concentrate along ethnic or socio-economic lines. Also, boarding schools create more meaningful opportunities for different students to interact with one another – whether in the dorms, classrooms or playing fields, you’ll always be surrounded by a diverse population that you’ll inevitably get to know throughout the year.Myth 3: Kids don’t have fun at boarding school.Curfews and rules will be part of life at any boarding school – no big news here. But depending on your impression of boarding school, you might be surprised to learn that boarding school can also be a lot of fun. If you talk to boarding school students or alumni today, most will tell you the same thing – it’s an environment that’s conducive to making incredible friends and having fun in the process.Keep in mind that while strong academics are a key focus for boarding schools, they also strive to foster independence in students. Boarding schools give you choices in how you spend your time and what activities to pursue so that you can determine your experience at school and grow as a person, not just academically. This process – of growth in independence, meeting new people and pursuing your interests – is often fun and very rewarding.Myth 4: Boarding school is for kids who are having trouble at home or school.There are two types of boarding schools – college-preparatory boarding schools and therapeutic boarding schools. The two are sometimes confused and can cause misperceptions that boarding schools are only for kids who are having trouble at home or school.College-preparatory boarding schools are geared for motivated students who are looking to explore new opportunities. College-preparatory boarding schools are often ideal choices for students who are already doing generally well at school and at home, but would simply like to find new challenges. These types of boarding schools are not appropriate choices for students with drug, alcohol, or behavioral problems. The key objective of these boarding schools is to prepare students for college through rigorous academics. All the schools profiled in Boarding School Review are exclusively college-preparatory boarding schools.Therapeutic boarding schools are aimed towards students who are having difficulty at home or in a traditional school setting. While preparing students for college can also be a goal for these schools, these schools are equipped to handle students who are facing challenges such as behavioral / emotional problems, substance abuse, or significant learning differences. Boarding School Review does not list therapeutic boarding schools.College-preparatory boarding schools and therapeutic boarding schools have different missions and serve different audiences. It’s helpful to know this when looking at schools, and avoid common misperceptions of college-preparatory boarding schools.Myth 5: It will be hard to keep in touch with my family.Boarding school students and their families are fortunate in that it’s easier than ever to stay connected. The Internet, in particular, is redefining how boarders and their families communicate. Boarding schools offer Internet access for their students, with most schools having access in each boarding house, and some in each bedroom. While Internet access is regulated for use between certain hours, students can often be in daily contact with their parents. Depending on the school and its policies, cell phones can also be helpful in keeping families connected.Keep an open-mind about what you think boarding school might be like. The best way to learn about boarding schools is to visit one – you can learn the most about boarding school life by simply being on campus and talking to current students about their experiences.

Javier Colayco is the founder of Boarding School Review (, a site that profiles college-prep and junior boarding schools. The site offers alumni reviews, detailed school profiles, and interactive tools to help families make better educational choices.