January marks the beginning of the college selection journey for Episcopal juniors. The journey they begin this month will culminate next school year with a chapel announcement and a plan for the next phase of their lives.
“This is the time to be getting on college campuses,” says College Counseling Director Justin Fenske. Fenske says students should be exploring and researching the types of universities available. In fact, he says the upcoming Mardi Gras break provides an ideal time for Louisiana students to tour out-of-state colleges since most will be in session. Fenske advises that a campus tour is much more than attending a college game day experience. Students should register for an official information session or tour even if they are fairly certain a particular school is the one for them. “We want students to be intentional in their decision making and they need the information to do that,” says Fenske.
For those students who have not considered what university they will attend, the College Counseling team offers the following advice on where to begin. “We recommend that students tour LSU, ULL, Tulane and Loyola,” says Fenske. He says these institutions offer completely different experiences and each campus has a unique feel. After these initial tours, students can then begin to explore other state and national options with a better understanding of their preferences.
In addition to exploring and researching schools, Fenske says members of the Class of 2021 should be checking the following items off their lists this semester.
1. Get ACT/SAT ready.
Fenske says by the end of their junior year students should have an ACT or SAT score that they feel reflects their abilities and college goals. He recommends taking the exams two to three times during junior year with the understanding that students will likely take it once more their senior year. Fenske recommends that students plan ahead for which day they’ll take the test before family schedules get booked and the spring rush sets in.
Episcopal offers a range of test prep opportunities. The next SAT Bootcamp is set for Saturday, February 15th. During these sessions, students review writing tips, take timed practice tests and work on SAT lessons. To read more about Episcopal test prep, click here. To read more about testing success, click here.
2. Secure a recommendation commitment.
Later this spring is also the time for juniors to secure teacher recommendations. Students will need to determine which teacher(s) to ask, complete the teacher recommendation worksheet(s) and make the request(s). Each student will need to secure two teacher commitments. While teachers will not write the letters until next school year, Fenske says planning ahead results in a more meaningful message. A solid teacher recommendation letter is an important component of a student’s admission application. Click here to read five tips the College Counseling team provides for creating an application that will get noticed.
3. Establish a presence on the SCOIR platform.
It can be challenging to remember all of the academic and extracurricular accomplishments that occur over the course of four years. To help with this, Episcopal uses the SCOIR application which allows students to track their activities. Fenske recommends that students visit the site now to log in, register their information and become familiar with the app. This will certainly prove valuable when students begin the admission essay writing process later this summer.
4. Get to know your College Counselor.
The College Counseling team consists of Fenske, Shandi Fazely and Dr. Alan Newton. Fenske says now is the time for students and College Counselors to get to know each other. He encourages students to schedule meetings with their counselor now and take full advantage of the resources offered. “The better we know the students, the better advice we can give them,” says Fenske.
On January 15th, the College Counseling team hosted the annual Junior College Night for parents of juniors. The team also met with the junior class to discuss the journey ahead. While Fenske advised students that the success of their search is up to them, he reinforced that the counseling team and the Episcopal faculty are here to help every step of the way.
While it may only be January of 2020, May of 2021 will arrive quickly. Thanks to the support and guidance of the Episcopal community, this year’s juniors will be ready to make the college choice that best helps them reach their potential as leaders of tomorrow.
College Lecture Series
The College Counseling team offers a lecture series to help parents and students navigate the admission process. Common topics include expectations for senior year, financial aid opportunities and trends in higher education. Mark your calendar for the next discussion.
Pursuing the Arts
Wednesday, February 5th
6:30 – 7:30 pm
There will be a panel discussion on art schools and the unique admission journeys they present. Nine members of the Class of 2019 chose to pursue an arts education. Read more about them here.
Upcoming College Admission Events:
SAT Bootcamp Evidence Based Reading and Writing
Saturday, February 15th
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Upper School Student Center
Highlands Ability Battery Introduction Session
Tuesday, February 18th
Upper School Conference Room
Register to attend here.
SAT Bootcamp Math
Saturday, March 7th
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Upper School Student Center
Saturday, March 14th
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Sunday, March 22nd
Events for sophomores and juniors take place across campus
According to research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the higher the level of education, the lower the unemployment rate.” Higher levels of education also mean higher earning potential over a lifetime. As a college preparatory school, 100 percent of Episcopal seniors earn admission into a university, with many attending highly selective institutions. Episcopal students are assisted by three full-time college counselors who help them through the entire college admissions journey. This journey can be intense, and it may have parents and students wondering, is there a secret formula for getting accepted into the right university? College Counseling Director Justin Fenske shares the top five qualities that colleges are looking for in an applicant. Keep in mind that these qualities can change depending on the student and the school.
1. Academic Success
When it comes to taking that next step in the educational journey, being able to show that you’ve done well in your high school courses is important. A strong transcript showing academic success and growth is a good indicator to a college admissions officer that the student understands the subject matter and is ready for more advanced college-level course work.
2. Challenging Courses
Students should also be mindful of the courses they choose. Fenske advises students to take courses that show a preference for challenging subject matter while also allowing them to be academically successful. He says students should not simply enroll in a higher-level course to pad their transcript.
3. Extracurricular Passion
You have the right grades in all the right courses, now what? Fenske says colleges want to see a commitment to an extracurricular activity. However, this does not mean the student should participate in every activity offered. Fenske says a deep involvement in a few activities is meaningful on an application. He says students can explore numerous possibilities while still in Middle School and by the time they are a sophomore or junior in Upper School they can devote more time to activities they particularly enjoy. Being able to show a progression in involvement over the years is also a plus. For example, a student may start out helping backstage in a theater production and eventually mature to be a leader in the theater department.
4. Required Test Scores
Yes, testing is certainly still a factor in college admissions. Luckily, Episcopal has a robust testing preparation program. Counselors help students understand the types of test questions, how to study and how to efficiently manage the allotted test time. There are even test boot camps that simulate the testing environment. Students take practice tests and have the opportunity to discuss errors with teachers before taking the actual exam. This sort of test prep is garnering impressive results. Students are earning National Merit recognition for their performance on the PSAT. Student scores are also translating into college admissions and scholarship dollars.
5. Tell Your Story
Fenske says students need to tell their story in their college application, and that story needs to make them stand out among the crowd of other applicants. He advises students to do something interesting that garners recognition beyond school. For example, thousands of students attend a sports or theater camp each year. A unique story would be to create your own camp or serve as a leader at an existing camp. Fenske has also helped students tell the story of juggling a full-time job or extensive personal obligations while maintaining a strong GPA and a commitment to school life. A unique story goes a long way in helping a student garner the attention to earn admission.
The college admissions journey can be exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. Episcopal’s college counseling program is serving students well, with 100 percent of seniors earning acceptance into college, including many highly selective institutions. Fenske says ultimately the counselors want to help students find the best match based on their individual goals and projected career path. Finding that right fit and moving on to the next step in life is extremely rewarding for students, families and even the counselors who have assisted along the way. As the Class of 2020 begins to announce their college decisions it will be exciting to see where the journey takes them. Look for college announcements coming soon and please join us in congratulating these students on completing this important milestone.
Meet the Episcopal College Counselors
Have questions for our College Counselors? Leave a comment or ask a question below.
The final school bell has rung for the 2018-2019 school year and summer is here. These are the days they write songs and poetry about with vacations, sleeping in, second helpings of dessert and time with extended family. However, for some families it can be hard to step away and relax. Upper School Counselor Jodi Manton offers tips to help parents establish a semi-structured summer for themselves and their children.
1. Schedule structured time
Manton says a semi-structured summer means that students still have opportunities for learning and development, but without the regimented school schedule. She says in her own household they strive to have one structured hour in the morning and one structured hour in the afternoon during summer vacation. The structure varies depending on the age of the child and could simply include dedicated reading time. Manton refers to this as DEAR time or Drop Everything and Read Time where everyone in the household reads. Middle and Upper School students received summer reading assignments which could be completed during DEAR time. Lower School families received a Step Up packet prior to leaving for the year. Parents may want to use this as a guide for activities and practice during structured times for younger students.
2. It’s ok to have free time
“It’s ok for them to just be kids sometimes,” says Manton. There is value in free play and free time. During these times of exploration, children experience critical social/emotional growth. As children are given the freedom to make choices in regards to how they spend their time, their creativity and imagination is sparked. They also develop responsible decision-making skills and as they make new friends at camps or other activities they hone their social skills.
3. Be flexible
Manton says families should make decisions based on what is right for their child and their family. “Listen to your gut and trust your instinct,” she says. She says learning should be a joyful experience and summer is a perfect time to celebrate this joy. Parents should also be aware that summer days can get away from you and you may not accomplish everything you hoped for and that is ok. “Tomorrow is a new day,” she says.
4. Foster the family bond
No matter if the family is traveling abroad or planning a staycation, Manton says summer is the time to bond as a family unit. Without the stress of a schedule, families can take time to be together. She says strengthening that family bond now will certainly pay off once the first school bell rings again and homework, class projects and social obligations get underway.
However you spend your summer, we hope you make memories that last a lifetime. Before you know it summer will be gone and school will begin again. Have a great summer Knights!
College Counselor Jody Kennard is an explorer. How else would you describe a woman from New Jersey who has lived in the jungles of Borneo, worked for Pennsylvania Quakers and learned fundraising tips from a formidable nun who once worked for the CIA?
Jody says she was born knowing that she would leave her New Jersey hometown to attend college away. She is number three of four biological siblings with four additional step-siblings. Early on, Jody had an independent streak and unlike many young siblings who aspire to be like their older siblings, she wanted to do the opposite. Jody’s siblings studied Spanish, so Jody took French. Her siblings went south for college, so Jody went north to the University of Vermont. For good measure, Jody also decided to pursue a double major in French and English, while becoming certified to teach in both subjects, something she says was not common at the time.
Jody attended a private all-girls high school as a teen. By chance, she met Fred Sheldon, who attended the corresponding private all-boys high school, at a joint choir concert. After dating for some time, attending separate universities and being separated while Fred conducted research overseas, the two ultimately married and are still partners in life’s adventures today.
Once her education was complete, Jody began her career fulfilling her dream of becoming a teacher. She taught in public middle schools for several years and loved every minute of it. Thoughts of those first teaching jobs still cause Jody’s face to light up with happiness as she discusses them. However, when Fred began graduate school at Yale University, Jody didn’t immediately find a teaching job in Connecticut. Instead, she took a job as a researcher at Yale Law School. At Yale, as the Secretary of State called daily for the experts in her office, Jody learned just how large the world, once represented on Mrs. Scott’s map, actually is and how knowledge and power are interconnected.
Never one to say no to a new adventure, Jody was happy to join husband Fred in Borneo when he took a leave of absence to conduct research on the birds of Sabah. The two lived in a small, wooden house in the middle of a rice patty for several years. Jody says water buffalo frequented the area near her home and the surroundings were quite primitive. Jody and Fred learned the local language and befriended their native guides. It was an adventure she truly loved.
Back in America, Jody took her first job in fundraising at Yale. She continued fundraising for small colleges across the country as she and Fred moved about for new opportunities. For Jody, each experience was a chance to explore and learn. From Sister Francis de Sales Taggart, the CIA nun, she learned that first impressions aren’t always accurate. After all, Jody says she never would have guessed that this nun had been in North Africa with the Foreign Service during WWII. From interacting with the passionate volunteers and donors at each school, she learned the importance of “working with people that just really care.” Of all the highlights she could share, Jody lights up as she talks about the passion and dedication exhibited by her mission-driven colleagues. She remembers the waves of volunteers who stuffed envelopes or made phone calls because of their belief in the school and their determination to see it succeed. There is admiration and awe in her voice as she describes Sister de Sales’ ability to command attention and inspire donors. There is joy in her expression as she describes her daily phone calls with a passionate older volunteer who couldn’t fathom that others weren’t equally as passionate.
When LSU offered Fred a career opportunity, this Jersey girl’s next adventure began. At this point, Jody and Fred were parents to sons Kenny Sheldon ’07 and Ricky Sheldon ’09. “The only reason we considered coming to Louisiana was because of Episcopal,” says Jody. Episcopal provided the family a welcoming community and Jody joined in, becoming a room mom, grade level rep, lunch room server and annual fund volunteer. In 2005, she joined the Episcopal staff as a fundraiser. Once Kenny began exploring colleges, Jody realized a new passion – helping students find the best college to meet their goals. In 2010, Jody became a full-time college counselor. “That’s been the joy of my life,” she says.
College counseling combines the experiences of Jody’s life into one role. “Even though I’m not teaching I still see these kids every day,” she says. She also gets to help students develop their voice and tell their story through the college essay writing experience. “It’s just so much fun,” she says of the experience that allows her to help students discover who they truly are and what they want to be. Jody enjoys the metamorphosis that occurs when a young freshman appears at her door only to emerge four years later as a confident senior with their dream college chosen. “What really catches me is the uncertainty of it,” she says. “I don’t know where they’re going to apply or get in.”
One certainty is that Jody has had a tremendous impact on her Episcopal colleagues. “Not to be overly dramatic, but the thought of Jody’s absence in the Upper School office is nearly unimaginable,” says Shandi Fazely, who works closely with Jody as a member of the College Counseling team. “Jody’s talent for connecting with students and faculty - all people, really - has inspired my own interactions at times. Jody is fierce and devilishly funny. Her quick wit brings both levity and an endless supply of ideas; and she’ll go to bat, always, for students, friends, ideas, policies, procedures, anything, in which she believes.” Justin Fenske, the director of the College Counseling team, will also greatly miss Jody. “Jody is a trusted ear,” says Justin. “Students put their faith in her and spend hours in her office, but that trust is extended to her colleagues as well. I have spent countless hours talking with Jody as we plan the future of college counseling and discuss individual students. I can’t imagine what it will be like next year without her input.”
It is not just the college counselors who will miss Jody’s presence on campus. “Jody has served as a mentor to me personally and professionally in the years I have known her at Episcopal,” says Michelle Chenevert, Director of Technology. “She is always full of energy and gives attention to detail in everything she does.” Art teacher Kate Trepagnier applauds Jody for her passion and commitment to college counseling and the students she serves. “Jody is able to transform nuanced and complicated problems into a concise strategy that the students grasp and implement,” says Kate. “With her curiosity, humor, and focused energy, Jody is respected by students and faculty.”
Jody enjoys the unknown that comes with the college counseling process and exploring faraway places. She says in life “you make choices and you take risks and if it doesn’t work out, you have to be nimble.” That willingness to try new things and explore new worlds seems a fitting trait for a person charged with helping students chart a new path. While Jody’s path now takes her away from Episcopal, she leaves very much still passionate about her work and the school. Even as this adventure comes to a close, many more await her. Jody and Fred will take off for a stint in Indonesia soon. She will also substitute teach here at Episcopal when she can. No doubt, this explorer will keep charting new territory.
Congratulations, Jody. We wish you well on your next adventure!
Has Jody had an impact on you? Leave her a message in the comments section below.
We all want our children to be “happy”, but what is happiness? This question has been explored by countless universities. In recent years, Yale University founded a course titled “Psychology and the Good Life” and it has become one of their most popular courses. This course explores the keys to happiness and is now available online to the public on Coursera identified as “The Science of Well-Being”. In this course, Professor Laurie Santos links happiness to kindness, social connection, gratitude, mindfulness, and positive health habits such as sleep and nutrition.
As parents, we are often aware of any slight physical changes in our child. We look out for their health and wellness by taking them to the doctor at any sign of illness, for their vaccinations, and we bandage a skinned knee. However, mental health can be a challenge to identify. Focusing on observable behaviors and having daily conversations with our children is critical to understanding their mental well-being. Our young children often wear their emotions on their sleeves and show us through tears or exclamations of excitement how they are feeling. As teens move into middle school, they often become more guarded with their emotions. Adolescents are beginning to pull away from parents and focus more on peer relationships. While this is normal and healthy as they develop their own identity, it’s important to realize they still need parental reassurance, support and nurturance.
How can you identify if your child is in emotional distress? These observable indicators may help you:
Here are some guidelines for starting the conversation with your child about their mental health and well-being:
Episcopal School’s mission statement focuses on developing the “whole child”. We want to partner with you to support your children to grow into successful and happy young adults. This May marks the 70th year that the Mental Health Association of American recognizes “Mental Health Awareness Month” providing an opportunity for us to talk openly about mental health and our children’s happiness. If you have concerns for your child’s mental health, please reach out to your division counselor. We are available to collaborate and provide support.
Yale University Course on “Psychology and the Good Life” https://news.yale.edu/2018/02/20/yales-most-popular-class-ever-be-available-coursera
Coursera offering Yale Course “The Science of Well-Being” https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being
Mental Health America: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/about-us
NBC News Learn Parent Toolkit: https://www.parenttoolkit.com/health-and-wellness/conversation-starter/mental-health/tough-talks-how-to-talk-to-your-child-about-mental-health
Child Mind Institute: https://childmind.org/article/tips-communicating-with-teen/
Alicia Kelly has served as a School Counselor at Episcopal since 2001. As the Middle School Counselor, she has a passion for helping preadolescents reach their potential, academically, emotionally, and spiritually. Alicia holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, Masters in Health Sciences - Rehabilitation Counseling, and is a Certified School Counselor.
According to a New York Life Foundation survey, nearly 70% of teachers have at least one grieving student in their classroom. The survey, which was conducted in conjunction with the American Federation of Teachers, also shows that on average teachers interact with eight grieving students each school year.
In keeping with a whole child educational philosophy, members of the Episcopal faculty seek to support and assist students in all aspects of life, including loss. Recently, the school earned the Grief-Sensitive School designation through New York Life’s Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative. Initiative organizers seek to prepare teachers to support grieving students by providing access to teacher resources and training opportunities. To earn the designation, Episcopal Middle School teachers participated in a training in which they were introduced to the information available to them as a participating school. Middle School counselor Alicia Kelly says the training was a helpful refresher on empathy and compassion. “The training we received was a valuable reminder of the ongoing struggles our students may deal with, related to loss,” says Kelly. “Every child we teach is dealing with things that we cannot see. Being aware and sensitive to our children’s family lives helps us connect with them, and support the whole child, leading to better educational outcomes.”
Kelly says teachers now have access to resources to help them better communicate and understand students who have experienced a significant loss. She says offering the training during a Middle School staff meeting so that the entire division could attend highlights the school’s commitment to supporting students and families. In addition she says because of Episcopal’s small size, teachers and staff have the ability to reach out to families one-on-one to rally around them and offer meaningful support.
The Episcopal community is known for providing a strong support system. School counselors Alicia Kelly, Sara LeBlanc, Jodi Manton, and Robin Talamo work with students in each division in age-appropriate ways. Faculty and staff also offer a range of services for students and families, including the following:
As part of the Grief-Sensitive School designation, Episcopal received a $500 grant to support additional resources. The grant allowed the Episcopal school counselors to host a viewing of the documentary Screenagers, which explores the pressures and realities that today’s students face in a digital world. The documentary was shown this week to students and families. For more tips on dealing with children and technology, read this post by Upper School Counselor Jodi Manton.
Helping teens navigate the digital world is a challenge all families face. Episcopal’s Jodi Manton provides valuable tips to help families manage. Make plans to attend Episcopal’s screening of Screenagers on Thursday, January 24th from 8 – 9:30 am or 6:30 – 8:30 pm.
Snapchat. Instagram. iMessage. YouTube. Fortnite. These media and gaming platforms are all part of daily life for many teenagers, readily accessible at any time, day or night, from smartphones, laptops, and other devices. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey indicated that 95% of teens have access to a smartphone. 45% reported they are online “almost constantly,” and another 44% said they are online “several times a day.” Teens reported using Snapchat (35%), YouTube (32%), and Instagram (15%) most often, and 97% of teenage boys reported playing video games (Anderson & Jiang, 2018). How has technology and media use become so pervasive for teens?
One reason may be the aspects of social media platforms and games designed to “hook” teens. For example, Snapchat has a feature called “Snapstreaks,” which requires Snapchat friends to exchange photos daily for three days to start a “streak.” They must then continue to exchange a picture daily, or the streak will expire. Maintaining Snapstreaks has become important to many teens and even has some sharing their passwords with friends or parents to maintain their streaks for them if they won’t have access to the site or their device for some reason.
Fortnite is a gaming phenomenon that has gone viral. While there is some debate about how violence in video games may impact teens, there is no question that these games are designed to keep players coming back. The graphics and fast pace of the game draw players in. Fortnite also capitalizes on elements of luck that keep teens playing. As their skill in the game improves, teens may get drawn in by the “near miss” phenomenon - “Instead of feeling as if they’ve lost, players may feel as if they’ve nearly won,” and they keep playing with the belief they will win the next game (Damour, 2018). This is similar to the experience of gambling, which was recently added to the DSM-5 as a potential type of addiction.
As technology and social media have become more ubiquitous in the lives of teens, it has become an ever-increasing topic in my conversations with students and their parents. How can parents help their digital natives navigate the potential pitfalls and capitalize on the benefits of a connected life?
For more information about this important topic, attend Episcopal’s screening of the documentary, Screenagers, on Thursday, January 24th at 8:00 to 9:30 AM and 6:30 to 8:30 PM. RSVP to your division counselor:
Anderson, M. & Jiang, J. (2018). Teens, Social Media, & Technology 2018. Pew Research Center Internet & Technology. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/.
Damour, L. (2018). Parenting the Fortnite Addict. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/30/well/family/parenting-the-fortnite-addict.html.
Rennert, L., Denis, C., Peer, K., Lynch, K.G., Gelernter, J., & Kranzler, H.R. (2014). DSM-5 Gambling Disorder: Prevalence and Characteristics in a Substance Use Disorder Sample. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 22 (1), 50-56. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4019046/.
Jodi Manton has served as the Upper School Counselor since 2015 where she provides academic and social/emotional services to Upper School students and their families. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC), and Certified School Counselor. She has a master's degree in education with a concentration in mental health counseling and a Certificate of Education Specialist with a concentration in school counseling from Louisiana State University.
Working and Saving. Dorm room cooking. Dorm/Apartment Safety.
These are just a few of the life skills Episcopal faculty are passing on to this year’s graduating seniors as part of the College Block experience.
College Block is a weekly time slot set aside for Upper School students to prepare for college admission. Students in ninth through eleventh grades focus on test prep and college readiness skills. Using materials provided by MasteryPrep, Upper School faculty members teach lessons in ACT prep, while Episcopal counselors lead sessions on college admission and readiness. Students also have the opportunity to take timed practice tests, watch test prep videos, and participate in test prep boot camps. Dr. Alan Newton, College Block Coordinator, is thrilled to have the entire Upper School faculty involved in this program. "When our students see that their teachers are willing to put forth extra time and effort to teach lessons and lead sessions, this reinforces Episcopal's commitment to successful college admissions," he says.
College Block test prep is comprehensive and students are seeing great results. To read more about Episcopal’s successful college test prep click here.
Building upon this success, College Counseling Director Justin Fenske and his team had a different vision for the senior year of College Block. With college early decisions announced in the late fall, many seniors are nearing the end of their admissions journey. Now that students have narrowed their college choices, the process transforms to one of preparation for life. With this in mind, the senior College Block idea was born.
The college counseling team solicited their colleagues for suggestions on skills that would help students easily make the transition to life on their own. Fenske says faculty members enthusiastically responded with a range of ideas and suggestions. “The faculty viewed this as an opportunity to ensure that our students were fully prepared for life after graduation. We hope students gain life skills and take something from their teachers that wasn’t from class,” says Fenske.
One recommendation came from Thesis Director Katie Sutcliffe who suggested a presentation on dorm room cooking. In her presentation, Sutcliffe offered tips on affordable, healthy and easy cooking options. Sutcliffe not only guided students through the process of preparing no-bake energy bites, but she also provided them with supply lists and shopping tips. In another recent presentation, Upper School art teacher Kate Trepagnier offered students stress relief tips from an artistic standpoint. Trepagnier walked students through stretches and exercises to help them relax after a long day of studying. In addition, she demonstrated how creating art, and even doodling, can aid relaxation.
Senior College Block topics vary widely. Over the course of the year, faculty members will offer advice on everything from how to jump start a car to how to determine whether studying abroad is a valuable option. The presentations are interactive and engaging, with topics that resonate with a range of audiences.
It is widely known that Episcopal’s approach to college preparation is working, with students gaining admission to highly-selective institutions, scoring in the top ranks on admissions tests and earning National Merit recognition. This new approach to the College Block experience is a complementary, meaningful commitment to educating the whole child.
As students across the nation prepare for the October 27th ACT testing date, the organization that distributes the ACT test has released the 2018 Condition of College & Career Readiness Report. This annual report provides state testing data and the latest testing trends among students. According to ACT, the national average composite score dipped in 2018 from the previous year. The same downward trend was also seen among Louisiana’s Class of 2018.
At Episcopal, that trend does not hold true.
Episcopal students have consistently performed better on the ACT over the last four years with a 9.38% improvement. Upper School Division Head Tom Forti says this is thanks in part to the solid academic foundation that students are provided every day in every division in every class. According to the ACT College Readiness report, research has shown this to be true, with the rigor of coursework having the greatest impact on ACT performance and college readiness.
opportunity to prepare tomorrow’s leaders to make a difference in the world. “Our teachers are some of the most caring individuals, always providing support and encouragement while also pushing students to be their best academic self,” he says.
Episcopal teachers provide students the opportunity for a personalized, advanced education. Click here to read more about personalized options at Episcopal. Teachers know when a student is ready to advance to a more challenging course and they are there to support students along the way. Learning at your own pace has its benefits. According to ACT, “students who take Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry typically achieve higher ACT Mathematics scores than students who take less than three years of mathematics. In addition, students who take more advanced mathematics courses substantially increase their ACT Mathematics score.” At Episcopal, it is common for students to take advanced math courses, such as Honors Geometry or even Calculus BC, when they are ready, regardless of any predetermined track.
In addition to strong academic support, students also receive tremendous social/emotional support, beginning as early as Lower School. “You’re not going to fall through the cracks here,” says Forti. “You’re always on someone’s radar.” Being on a teacher’s radar means that teachers know and care when a student is struggling. Teachers are aware of when students need additional support, such as an extension, a study hall or even just a listening ear.
Supportive teachers, accessible College Counselors and a network of families and alumni, together create a strong school community committed to mission-appropriate students. Perhaps Episcopal’s greatest strength is this sense of community and a passion for excellence and exploration. Episcopal students have the opportunity to pursue their interests and push their limits, thanks to the unrelenting support and guidance of faculty and staff.
Episcopal students are performing at high levels on national tests, with consistent improvement every year despite national trends. Tangible examples of the strength of the Episcopal community are reflected in improving ACT scores, consistent high performance on the PSAT resulting in significant National Merit recognition and high numbers of AP Scholars. Recent success points to a community not only healthy, but flourishing.
While test scores are impressive, the numbers cannot accurately tell the story. The Episcopal story is witnessed and felt as students take the stage for the first time in Lower School, or as an athlete earns extra playing time or even as the list of colleges and universities accepting Episcopal students grows. The Episcopal legacy is strong, as evidenced by the alumni who continue to enroll their children at their alma mater and by the community that continues to entrust the school with the hopes of the next generation.
We often struggle to find the right balance of protection and independence when it comes to our teenagers. The nineties saw the rise of the “helicopter parent,” hovering over their child. This has evolved to the “lawn mower parent,” swooping in and “mowing over” any adversity or struggle their child may face. While this is well-intentioned, loving and motivated parents can inadvertently stunt the growth of adolescent independence by stepping in and “helping” each time their teen is in need. Parents often struggle with how much support is too much. Should I bring my tween their missing homework? Should I let my teen attend that late night party? Striking the right balance of protection and independence requires thoughtful consideration and knowledge of your individual child. How do parents navigate the tween and teens years? How much independence is the “right” amount? Here are some suggestions for knowing when to step in and when to let go.
As part of healthy development, adolescents become more peer-focused beginning around middle school. This also means that they rely less on adult guidance. Rather than parent facilitated “play dates,” adolescents make their own plans - movie nights, mall outings, sleepovers, concerts, dances, parties. These are all common activities for teens. Some ways you can foster social independence while also considering your child’s safety include:
As children approach middle school, teachers often encourage parents to step back and allow the student to take charge of her school work more independently. Parents should carefully consider how to empower their children to allow them to feel successful in school. Some ways you can foster independence academically include:
While many adolescents have a full schedule with school and extracurricular activities, it’s important for them to gain an awareness of their ability to contribute to their family and community. Being responsible to another adult, through a task such as mowing lawns, babysitting, or a summer job, empowers teens to feel competent. Some ways you can foster independence with work skills are:
Watching your child develop into a competent and confident adolescent is a rewarding experience. Episcopal’s mission includes preparing our students for “purposeful lives”. By motivating and encouraging responsible independence, parents and educators can partner together to help all of our students meet their full potential.
National Physicians Center for Families: Building Independence in Adolescents
Psychology Today: Teaching your Adolescent Independence
USA Today: Meet the ‘lawnmower parent,’ the new helicopter parents of 2018
Self-Sufficient Kids: 7 Ways Parents can Encourage Teens to be Self-Sufficient
Mark your calendar for the next Lunch and Learn with the Episcopal counselors.
Thursday, October 25th
11 am - 1 pm
The discussion will be based on the book UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All About Me World by Michele Borba. You do not need to have read the book to attend. Please RSVP to your division counselor.
Alicia has served as a School Counselor at Episcopal since 2001. As the Middle School Counselor, she has a passion for helping pre-adolescents reach their potential, academically, emotionally, and spiritually. Alicia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Master’s in Health Sciences- Rehabilitation Counseling, and is a Certified School Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor.