During our Lower School Open House yesterday, I sat with a group of prospective parents and chatted with them about our school. In my remarks I shared with them two questions I often get when strangers hear that I am a Lower School division head at an all-girls’ school:
- Why would anyone want to put their daughter in an all girls’ school
- If I’m going to spend the money for an independent school, why wouldn’t I wait until they are in Middle or Upper School when girls typically have to deal with the issues that come from being in a co-ed environment?
My response to these two questions tends to be the same, for different reasons: in my opinion, one can’t afford not to consider an all girls’ environment beginning at the earliest stages of school. I referred to my favorite part of Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, the part that reads, “Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.” I shared with them my opinion that in order for a plant to grow to be strong and thrive, the seed needs to be planted with care and love from the very beginning, nurtured and strongly encouraged by master gardeners in an environment that knows exactly what that seed needs. Imagine waiting to take care of a plant until it had been around 10 years! Lower School is about planting the seed in excellent soil with lots of care in preparation for the challenges ahead.
I also talked about a book I am currently reading entitled, I Am That Girl, by Alexis Jacobs, who is a thought leader of the 21st century and founder of a nonprofit with the same name. Jacobs’ book is about emphasizing the importance of girls being the best versions of themselves, no matter what their age, and as I have been reading the book it has occurred to me that her philosophy and way of thinking is a mirror reflection of the philosophy behind much of what we want for our girls as members an all girls’ school. For example, part of her “Girl Manifesto” reads:
I am enough. I have enough. I do enough.
I am me. Every day.
Not who I think others expect me to be.
But the real, unedited, beauty-full, perfectly flawed version.
I choose to think for myself.
I speak my truth
And wrestle with life’s tough questions over and over again.
I daydream about a better world and strive to make it my reality.
This newsletter is not really a blog—as readers, there is no comment box at the bottom you can use to respond to my thoughts. But I am curious as to how you would choose to answer the questions I get so often. You are the current consumers of the Lower School, parents who have made conscious decisions to send your daughters to an all girls’ institution at the beginning of their school experience rather than waiting. Why?
I look forward to my email box being full of your responses.