In my role as Director of Enrollment Management at Shipley, I get many questions from prospective parents, but the one I enjoy the most is this: “What is the value of a Shipley education vs. a public school education?” I love that question because for me, for Shipley, it’s an easy one.
We all know Shipley provides an outstanding academic education; our record speaks for itself. But Shipley offers so much more. We couple our high academic standards with a foundation of strong support so that students know they can stretch themselves. From pre-K on up, students take academic risks and get support when they need it.
In fact, risk-taking in a safe, supportive environment is one of Shipley’s hallmarks. Dr. Steve Piltch, Head of our school, talks about this all the time. Kids are encouraged to branch out and explore areas they may not have considered academically, athletically, on the stage, and socially.
In Lower School, for example, students have the opportunity to practice public speaking and engage in leadership roles from the very beginning so it becomes second nature. In Middle School, kids experiment with every sport before choosing one for each season. In the Upper School, the depth and breadth of our curriculum allows for students to explore new areas of interest and fields of study that they may not have had the courage to try elsewhere because there is no social penalty to trying. In fact, quite the opposite. It is very much a part of our culture to try new things.
The bonds students form with teachers further help to provide encouragement and support. Without the demands of government mandated testing, our teachers have the extra time and the freedom to get to know our students at every level: in the classroom, on the playing field, and after school with extra help or on special projects. Our teachers pass along information about our students from grade to grade so that we, as a school, develop an institutional knowledge and understanding of each individual child. Nothing demonstrates that knowledge and affection so deeply as the celebratory and detailed citations that are read for every graduating senior each year. We know and love our students.
I see Shipley’s magic taking hold with my son Grayson, who is in third grade here. He’s asking the big questions each night at dinner, questions you would never imagine a child his age could grapple with, but it’s a matter of course at Shipley.
I know that by the time he graduates, he will have been given the opportunity to develop into the person he was meant to be at that point in his life. He will be going out into the world ready with all the skills needed to be successful—and by that I mean all the skills, not just the academic skills. He will have the ability to take on leadership roles, to ask the harder questions, to look for guidance, and to have the humility to do so. He will have the courage to reach for the challenge, and above all, he will be a good person. I know this because I see it in our graduating seniors and our alumni body.
Shipley educates the whole child all the way through. To me, the value of that is priceless.