New Hampshire Boarding Schools – One More Time With Feeling

I’ve just returned from re-visiting schools in New Hampshire. The fourteen boarding schools in that state run the spectrum – from tiny, nurturing Hampshire Country School for bright active young boys; to funky High Mowing which uses extensive arts and the Waldorph Method to educate their students; to Proctor, Brewster, White Mountain, Tilton, Kimball Union, New Hampton and Dublin with their great learning support as well as wide-ranging options; to preppy Cardigan Mountain for their 6th-9th grade guys; to the high powered Holderness, St. Paul’s and Exeter. Each school, like every person, has its own personality. And each grows, matures and changes. That’s why revisits are important.

In the world of colleges, a change of president may create a gradual change in the institution. The course correction is akin to a captain turning an aircraft carrier. For boarding schools, a new head can create change with the swiftness of a sailor coming about with a shift in the wind. Seeing what new heads are instituting at their schools was inspiring – from more capstone projects and STEM programs, to enhanced arts offerings. And it was good to see long standing heads at stable institutions holding them steady as they sail into the future.

Knowing the schools, their pasts and their present is an important part of what educational consultants do. Our profession, after all, involves matching students with the institutions that will serve them well, then monitoring their progress as they matriculate. Understanding not just the hard facts about offerings and academic rigor, but also the level of creativity, sophistication, formality, energy, and warmth on a campus helps in pinpointing where a particular student will truly flourish.

It can be hard work. It is usually invigoration. And I almost invariably find it quite rewarding!

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