Parents of Independent Schools Network (PIN)

From the PIN website:

The Parents’ Independent School Network, Inc. (PIN) is a volunteer group of parents with children who are students at New England area independent elementary and secondary schools. PIN was formed to help parents share ideas and promote worthy programs at these independent schools.

One or two parent representatives from each member school attend four to six meetings each year. These PIN reps serve as the conduit between the diverse school communities. At PIN meetings, reps gather to share information about topics relating to non-academic issues, listening to speakers and panels and participating in discussion groups.

The primary goals of PIN are:

  • • Improve the quality of non-academic life at our member schools through the exchange of information among parent representatives
  • • Actively encourage representatives to work closely with their schools’ parent organizations

To achieve our goals, we at PIN :

  • Present and discuss topics of mutual concern
  • Share ideas and practices which have benefited member schools and their students
  • Sponsor educational events and provide useful information for our community
  • Support and foster PIN member schools’ community service programs
  • Encourage each representative to work closely with his or her school and the school’s parent organization to disseminate ideas and information learned from the PIN meetings
  • Share information through the PIN Community Bulletin Board about upcoming PIN member school events

To learn more, visit Parents of Independent Schools Network at

PIN Meeting Notes

Preparing Our Children for Uncertainty (Winter 2017)

The heart of school changes all the time. School is not preparation for life because school is life itself.

Children move from egocentricity to participating in the world beyond. The middle and high school years are a time of great change—especially during 9th grade when there is more concrete thinking to abstract thinking, and physical changes are often their main concern.

There is importance in generative or open-ended questions. We do not want one-word answers. Teachers go home and think about how to revise questions. We want generative questions that make the kids struggle because with struggle they learn, and that prepares them for uncertainty.

There is a balance between individual and collaborative team learning. This too is important to look at in order to prepare for uncertainty—they will need both.

Peer influence may be a good thing. How do other kids positively influence your child/younger kids?

If you look at the stats, there is an increase in college applications and the competition for placement is daunting. It is harder for educators to let go and give kids freedom. There needs to be a responsible and realistic approach to educating. Things are different than they were 25 years ago, for example. However, it does not have to be too overwhelming. It is doable. You need to be optimistic and have open-ended thinking.

Regarding the college selection process, there are two most difficult things as parents. If you are anxious about the process, then you are transmitting that feeling to your student/child. Also, if you think you know how to get your student into the college you want them to land at—you don’t. Ranking of grad. school has a much better trajectory than undergrad. The quality and fit that is most right for your child is the best thing that can happen to them. You are not helping your student as a person if they do not go where it is right for them. You want your child to thrive. It is not good to have the water “right beneath their nostrils.”

Invisible and visible safety nets: Parents often have the visible safety net. Before students graduate high school—take that away (the invisible net is right there). If you over-advise (often done because of the love for the child), that may be too much safety net. We need to let the student/child have some uncertainty.

Balancing the social part of life—Think about your own life and how you balance it right now. Let them in a little bit about a real problem you face. There was an interesting local study done by a psychologist at 15 schools. The biggest fear of the students was that they would disappoint their parents. Parents sometimes have a strong desire to “engineer.” Some are easy in social situations while some are not. If the child can ground themselves in one or two good friends, that will sustain them.

What is certain about life is that it is unpredictable whether talking on a professional or personal level. You will encounter various things. Your children are already preparing. To best prepare the child, do not prepare the path for the child; prepare the child for the path (both parents and schools). Whether social or academic, that is truly the building ground of character.

In order to build resilience, children need to dive into their experiences that will have difficulties and disappointments. Generally, some circumstances of failure arrive (arts, sports, etc.). Those are just as important as their successes—build a foundation to be able to engage it.

People who are highly successful usually had a lot of difficulties/struggles earlier on, but most students think that will be the end of them. They think it is all or nothing. You do not want your 15, 16, 17, 18 year olds, who are feeling daunted, thinking that they are not scholars. Normalize the fact that almost everyone is carrying these feelings.

Supporting Our Chidren's Use of Technology (Spring 2016)

PIN Meeting notes to come.

Secondary School Placement (Fall 2015)

PIN Meeting Notes November 18, 2015 

Welcome and introductions from Elizabeth Frumkin, Lower/Middle School PIN Chair, Greetings from Maite Fay, President of PIN, Inc, Welcome from Steven Tobolsky, Head of Chestnut Hill School.

Brief PIN announcements re: dues due soon. 

Introduction of panelists by Elizabeth Frumkin, Chair which included Nat Carr, Director of Secondary School Placement, Fenn School; Alison Connolly, Secondary School Counselor, Park School; Steven Tobolsky, Head of Chestnut Hill School

Panel Discussion: Secondary School Placement

Sometimes the school you never heard of or considered turns out to be the one. The “ah-ha” moment.

As kids get older they tend to direct the process more—mainly in terms of interests and records. This can be difficult for parents

Counselors should stay current because schools change over time. 

Schools assess academics—will they be successful and be challenged at their school. They check the students record, though not the best predictor over the last 5-10 years. They also assess character and citizenship. Some schools offer a “character skills assessment” though is is questionable as a predictor. Last, teacher recommendations are also checked.

Parents: You want to create the ideal school for your child. For example, you want to consider the size, location, to board or not to board, does your child do better with a very rigorous school vs. a more nurturing school, does the school have a program that your child likes in particular. The process can be stressful, but it is also a process where you learn more about your child and perhaps about yourself. The process should not be what everyone else is doing, but what is best for your family and child.

Key components to applying to secondary schools: testing, teacher recommendations, grades and the interview.

In November you start narrowing down choices, after winter break, hopefully applications are done. 

Good to see a general view of a school early on because later you may have to go to the school as part of the admission process—tour, interview (mostly child, will speak with the parents but more so about what questions we might have). Open houses are better for now, not requited later. This will help you to see if a school makes it to your list.

SSAT says best test prep time is 8-10 weeks before you take it. The prep is more so about standardized test taking at this point. The student will not gain a whole lot in terms of knowledge at this point. They say if you retake, the second time is generally not as good, but could book a second date in case of illness or emergency the first time around.

Financial aid—most are need aware (if a lot is needed—applying to a broader range is a good idea).

After March 10, the revisit days are really helpful. That is when the rollout the “red carpet,” but it is a good day to see if your child works well there with the other prospective students, teachers and coaches. 

If considering public school for 7, 8 or 9th then you should consider taking a day to shadow a student and take some time to look at their course books, etc.

Schools have changed. Go in with an open mind.

Parents: at the school let the student take the lead. Don’t monopolize. Let it be about their experience. Be ready to listen to their thoughts on whether they love or dislike a school. Be open to that.

-- Submitted by Jean Botta, Tower School PIN Liaison