Education Matters—Sanford School's Private School Blog

Learn about financial aid & affordability options for private schools

Posted by Jaime Morgan on Oct 14, 2016 5:00:00 PM

Private school admission offices across the country often hear the same sentiments...

We would love to have our children at your school. We think they would thrive in this type of learning environment. We just don’t know how we could ever afford it.

High tuition amounts are often the biggest barrier to families who


are interested in a private school education for their child. What many do not realize is there has been a national shift in the types of families who are applying for financial aid and other tuition assistance. More and more middle and upper income families are applying for and receiving financial help with the tuition bills.

It is a good practice for families to call the financial aid officers at the schools they are considering and ask questions about the school’s program. A guide for this conversation may be found here:

 Top questions to ask about financial aid 

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Topics: Financial Aid, Affordability

Capturing School Memories: Taking Better Pictures with your Smartphone

Posted by Ann Manley on Oct 4, 2016 5:24:00 PM

As a professional photographer, I’ve learned that there is so much you can do with your smartphone to capture memories of school events, sporting events, family trips or just candids at the park. But you don’t have to be a professional to be able to get the great shots. You just have to learn a few tricks of the trade.

One of the first things I always check for is the light. Where is the sun? We all love sunny days, but quite frankly when taking pictures, I really do pray for a few clouds. With the earlier fall sunsets upon us, try to make sure the sun is behind the kids. This way they won’t be squinting into the sun, and you’ll get some gorgeous sun flare and backlighting to make it a stand-out snap.

When the sun is in front us we tend to get some squinty eyes, but it can also offer great lighting on our kids. If they can bear with it, try a few this way. Always try a few different angles. A cute, funny sunglasses pic works when the sun is blaring on the soccer sidelines. Remember, it takes more than one shot to get the one you want. I always ask my kids for a redo.

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Topics: Parents

Talking with Your Kids About Social Media

Posted by Catherine Kaser, MA & Sandy Sutty, MA on Sep 27, 2016 5:00:00 PM

Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay. As the adults in our children’s lives, it’s smart to be savvy in our quest to keep them safe while still preparing them for life in a digital world. Are you starting from scratch to comprehend the vast world of social media? You’re not alone, and there’s a lot to learn! For starters, here’s our primer on the ABCs of Social Media

Once you know what social media is, the next step is learning how kids use it. You’ll want to learn what sites your children are interested in using and find out what accounts they may already have. (Though your rules may be different, most social media platforms require users to be at least 13 years old to create an account.)

Ask your child:

  • What do you like about social media sites?
  • How do social media sites make some things more complicated?
  • Do you ever find it hard follow the rules of digital citizenship?
  • What happens when users don’t follow those rules?
  • Have you ever been cyberbullied or do you know someone who has?
  • How do you and your friends handle that?
  • How do you keep yourself safe online?
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Topics: Technology, Wellness, Parents

Staying in touch:  what's the value of attending high school reunions?

Posted by Amy Shirley on Sep 20, 2016 5:00:00 PM


Some days I wish that I could go back and do it all again. I remember the friends,teachers and coaches that made my time in school so special. I am reminded of the relationships that I enjoyed with the teams I competed with and the student groups that I planned activities with. I recall the excitement of traditions, whether it be Friday night basketball games or homecoming dances. Most days I’m just thankful for where it got me. Showing my gratitude to my alma mater can and should be easy.

In my current role working with alumni, I look for ways to share this message and to create opportunities where our graduates know that their story matters. We want our alumni to know we cherish their memories and contributions to our school for so many reasons.

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Topics: Alumni

The School Nurse: Helping Students Advocate For Themselves

Posted by Jennifer Conway on Sep 13, 2016 5:00:00 PM

Ice packs, band-aids, fevers, upset stomachs—I do it all!

But the one part of school nursing that I find most rewarding is helping students become their own health advocates. The path to self-advocacy varies with each individual student and, of course, by age. A school nurse has the opportunity to be an extension of the lessons learned at home in order to help lay a solid foundation of health and wellness for our children. 

In the elementary school years, the school nurse can reinforce the value of proper hygiene, good nutrition, sufficient sleep, and physical activity among young children. These are necessary not only to achieve success in their academic journey, but to foster healthy peer relationships. 

During adolescence, students gain more independence at home and at school. They need to have adults they trust for guidance to make good choices. As I get to know students through my work, I can become one of those trusted adults who can offer recommendations to help a student advocate for themselves with their parents, teachers, and coaches.

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Topics: Wellness

How to create a stress free morning routine for you and your child

Posted by Janice Payne on Sep 6, 2016 5:00:00 PM

By the time your child arrives at school, are both of you already exhausted? Rushing, tears and raised voices in the morning create negativity that lasts well into the day. Starting the school day off in a peaceful, well-planned manner will make everyone feel in control, creating a positive mindset for what lies ahead.

A great morning starts at night! By creating a pre-bedtime routine, most of the morning’s tasks will already be complete.

  • Lay out clothing for the day ahead, including coats and shoes. End scrambling for lost items or early-morning disagreements over outfits. Involve your child, so they do not balk when it is time to get dressed.
  • Put items to be taken to school in a convenient location. This includes homework, backpacks, musical instruments, sports gear, permission slips- anything that they will need the next day. Consider creating a checklist and hang it by the door-and following this plan yourself.
  • Prepare lunches and plan out the morning’s breakfast. 
  • Discuss any schedule changes for the day ahead. Include after-school plans and pick-up times.
  • Have your child bathe before bed. One less task for the morning.
  • Get to bed early. This means parents, too. We are all at our best with plenty of rest!

Create a morning routine that is as simple as possible.

  • Rise before your child and do something for yourself. Take time for a spiritual reading, exercise, snuggle or get yourself dressed in peace. You will start the day feeling more in control and emotionally centered, allowing you to deal with your child from a positive place.
  • As age appropriate, create a morning schedule and list tasks to be completed by your child. Allow them to feel in control by making decisions on how they will get themselves ready. Try posting a timetable in a conspicuous spot. 
  • Electronics remain off. Televisions, games and social media can become a distraction for children, as well as parents.
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Topics: Parents

Private School Education: A student's reflection

Posted by Justin McLellan'16 on Jun 28, 2016 12:00:00 PM

Private schools will always hit you with the same buzzwords: Small class sizes, rigorous academic curricula, engaging teachers, and accessible extracurriculars. They aren’t wrong. These core tenets of private school education are what make private schools so attractive to parents wanting the best for their children and  for students who are eager to grow. Yet, after being in a private school for twelve years I have come to realize that the most valuable aspects of private schooling are the most intangible ones.

Private school students are exposed to new ways of thinking.
A product of the relationships I have formed with my teachers is the level of respect and maturity they both treat me with and expect from me in return. My teachers do not shy away from delving into conversations about real-world issues out of fear that I cannot handle them. Rather, this type of discourse is encouraged, and with it comes the expectation that the conversation will remain civil, that all perspectives will be regarded seriously, and that the end goal is to learn from one another rather than to prove someone wrong. I’ve learned that different perspectives are not wrong, or offensive, just different, and that all are to be treated with respect. As a result of this mutual comfort I am not hesitant to share my opinions or have in-depth conversations with people much older than I, which is something that I value as I prepare to graduate high school and expose myself to so many different types of people.

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Topics: Education, Academics, Community

What Should My Child Read this Summer?

Posted by Cecilie Zwick Coker on Jun 7, 2016 3:00:00 PM

Earlier this week, I had one of my weekly conversations with my sister. She has two teenage daughters and a younger son named William. Her girls have always been eager readers, impressing me with the conversations around the novels they have read. As she and I were talking, she mentioned that William was sitting right next to her reading a book.

“So,” I asked, “What is he reading?”

“Well,” she paused and answered, "all William reads is non-fiction about world history. I’m sort of alright with it, but shouldn’t he be reading fiction too? He is missing out on so many wonderful stories.”

I answered, “He’s interested in world history, that’s wonderful! Let him read whatever he wants. ”

Find something that your child is interested in
Sometimes there seems to be a whole lot of “shoulds” around reading. In my mind, children should not feel they need to read any particular genre. If children are interested, engaged and eager to read something, let them read just that. 
What many experts recommend is wide reading. We want our children to learn about the world, and we want them to encounter text that will help them expand their vocabulary. The best way to do this is to find the types of books that our children want to read. And, it doesn’t matter what it is.

Local libraries cover a wonderful range of topics and present these topics in formats ranging from picture books, chapter books, nonfiction informative books and graphic novels. Did you know that there are graphic novels about everything from photosynthesis to Louis Armstrong? And, did you know that there are books on everything from the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79AD to Marcus Persson’s creation of Minecraft? Interest is such a strong force in engaging readers. As you move from summer camp, to the beach, to cooking, to gardening, engage your children in readings that might spark the interest you’ve seen in them during a summer activity.

Make reading a shared experience with audiobooks
Another way to spark excitement summer reading is through audiobooks. During the summer, many families spend hours traveling from one destination to another. Listening to audiobooks during this time makes time pass more quickly. Listening to stories can also expose your child to new ideas and rich vocabulary. Another advantage of audiobooks is that children can listen to and understand books that might be too hard for them to read independently. This benefits younger readers, reluctant readers and children with reading difficulties. If the topic or story is interesting to your children, the chances are high that they will listen intently, and in turn, might be excited about reading books that are similar to the ones they have all heard read-out-loud.

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Topics: Academics, Summer

Digital Citizenship: Developing Good Character Online

Posted by Sandy Sutty, MA on May 24, 2016 3:00:00 PM

Digital citizenship is a way to teach students how to use technology responsibly and respectfully—and it’s an important aspect of developing good character in our students. Because using digital media is a part of our everyday lives, we teach them how to manage their school Gmail accounts and Google Apps for Education for their learning. We also talk with them about how to manage themselves online, especially when using social media.

As educators, we think a lot about social media and how to use it effectively and responsibly. We work with our students to make sure they know how important it is for them, too. The guidelines our school uses for our own posts are designed to create a positive atmosphere online. We teach appropriate technology use to develop good digital citizens.

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Topics: Technology

Modeling Good Sportsmanship – Everyone is a Teacher!

Posted by Joan Samonisky on May 10, 2016 3:00:00 PM

Too many times, headlines revolve around negative behavior taking place at sporting events involving coaches, players, parents or spectators. As a lifelong athlete and career educator in the field of physical education and athletics, my experiences in sports as a participant, teacher, coach, and athletic director have been many, and varied. I have experienced, and witnessed, winning and losing at all levels. 

Early in my high school career, I became aware that others are always looking to see how those in leadership positions react to difficult and trying circumstances. I watched my team captains and coaches to gauge a proper reaction to trying times on the fields and courts. I have carried this lesson with me throughout my career, knowing that teammates, players, parents, spectators, and other coaches will closely observe my reaction to a “blown call”, a big loss or a thrilling victory. I have learned that the reaction of the leader, in situations good or bad, clearly sets the tone for all of those around him/her.

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Topics: Athletics, Community