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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 3.31.2023

“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder

On Monday I did a talk and attended a conference of independent schools at the Beaver School in Boston called Future Focused. I never attended a conference of independent schools and honestly, I only spent one full day in a school like this in Los Angeles so this was a pretty new experience for me. The only person I knew there was Tony Wagner. It was good to catch up on his new book. Tony had already heard about the IBPLC and we are setting up a time to talk.

People came to this conference from as far away as Austria and Dubai. I met some great people who really wanted lots more information about BPL. Some have even registered for our conference. Over the years, I’ve learned to make it a habit of never just doing a talk without staying a day or two to talk with people at the conference. Time and again, I hear that no one ever does that. To give you an example, one of my talks was with Rob Conner who is the head of school at the Christina Seix Academy in Trenton, NJ. Rob knew about MetEast in Camden so, I made introductions to Tim Jenkins. The Seix Academy is completely free to students whether they choose to live at home or board. The school specifically serves “severely underprivileged” students and is located near a “struggling urban center.” Christina Seix grew up with her mom a Puerto Rican native who instilled in her the values of hard work and love. She made money in the investment world and decided to build and be the single donor to the school. She is an alum of Stony Brook and graduated a year before me. Rob is interested in learning more about our advisories and real-world learning. Christina Seix Academy already does a great deal on health and wellness with students and staff and we discussed BPLiving as a connection. There were another four meetings like this one but none pf the school had this type of mission.

“Rich relations may give you

Crust of bread and such

You can help yourself

but don’t take too much” Billie Holiday – God Bless the Child

Except for Christina Seix Academy, these schools cost between $52,000 – $70,000 a year to attend these college prep schools. They have a vast alumni network and the colleges and universities know them by reputation. Their facilities are incredible. The food is great. And now, do we really say to our public school students that the meritocracy will win out and you have just as good a chance as anyone to get into top universities? When I spoke with parents about the high price they were willing to pay to play, they not only felt that this was the best option for their child but the only option. For most, their great-grand-parents, grand-parents, parents went there and they are going, no matter what. Yes, there is a smattering of diversity in both students and staff there but all seems a bit too calculated for me.

As we were preparing for the BPL board meeting, it was suggested that we bring alum and the children of alums who are presently attending The Met in Providence to speak. Against this frame of generational buy-in to a private school I started thinking about the differences and what it means to be an alum and the choices made to go to the same school your parents went to. Are people ending up in the same places in both schools socially and financially? Is there a stabilizing force afoot that is not for the common good but for the them that’s already got? When I heard how strong the alum’s voice was in any changes in these independent school programs. I was shocked. They wanted their children to have the same of what they had even if the times are different. Is that true of our schools?

I know why alums are sending their children to the school they went to but I’m also more curious about why they are not. What is changing about the economy, the push to a 4 year degree and leading a full-filling life?

Just a few more things among lots of things:

Andrea and I had a follow up call with Jill Koyama, Vice Dean of Educational Leadership at ASU and a potential role they can play with many of our initiatives including IBPLC, BPLiving, BPL Native American Initiative, B-Unbound and Principal Leadership. I’ll be meeting with them in two weeks in San Diego.

Here's the flyer for the 3-1-1 Summer Fellowship in Philadelphia. The 3-1-1 has been one of those initiatives that brings a community of people together who haven’t been together for quite a while. We are working on solving problems to make this program a reality for more and more who want to do work and thrive in the skilled trades.

I’m having great conversations with Paul Dalio about supporting our school in Stamford and beyond.

Today, I will meet with Charles Smith, former NY Knick about work in AZ starting a sports performance school with a BPL program.

Be well.

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