Education Matters—Sanford School's Private School Blog

‘Tis the Season- The Tax Benefits of Charitable Giving at Year End

Posted by Janice Payne on Nov 25, 2016 1:10:00 PM

The holidays bring a rise in giving for most non-profit organizations, including schools. Annually, about one quarter of all charitable gifts are made from Thanksgiving to Christmas, due both to the proximity to the end of the tax year and the altruistic tendencies brought on by the season. Most non-profits invest a great deal in holiday solicitations and efforts such as Giving Tuesday, immediately following Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

What are the benefits to the donor of making a gift at year end?

If you itemize deductions when you pay your income taxes, your charitable gift qualifies you for a tax deduction.
The amount of the deduction is based on your tax bracket. In some cases, up to 85% of the gift is deductible under current tax laws.

Gifts of appreciated securities allow the donor to avoid capital gains.
If an investor has held an appreciated stock or mutual fund for more than one year, they can donate those securities and receive a tax deduction for the fair market value of the securities, and eliminate any capital gains assessments.

Gifts of depreciated securities are also tax deductible and the capital loss can offset capital gains in the current year and possibly into the future.

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Topics: Parents

Benefits of an Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum

Posted by Lynn Casto on Nov 11, 2016 5:01:00 PM


When selecting high schools, multiple factors weigh into a family’s decision: size, location, strength of program, and programmatic choice, to name a few. The presence of an Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum within a high school signals a respected level of educational excellence. AP courses offer rigorous college-level content within a secondary school setting.

A school with an AP program may provide many benefits to students and families: 

  • Students develop the habits of mind and skills required to be successful in college courses while still in high school.
  • In-depth study of a particular field often leads to students discovering a passion and pursing that field as a major in college.
  • College admissions officers often view students who score well on AP exams as being more prepared than those who have not experienced AP to handle college-level academics thus predicting a higher rate of success in college.
  • Students within the AP program are viewed by college admissions officers as willing to pursue challenge, hard-working, and self-motivated.
  • AP provides a standard measure by which students applying to college can be compared. Students can distinguish themselves within an elite group of students.
  • Students who score well on AP exams may receive college credit for their high school course work.
  • With enough credits accumulated through AP, some students are able to graduate a semester or a year early, decreasing college expenses for families.
  • Earning introductory college credit through AP credits may open room in a student’s schedule that would allow the pursuit of elective courses in an area of interest or room for a minor study.

The AP designation offers a benchmark for academic excellence and teacher professional development. For a school to offer the AP designation, the teachers of the course must complete the audit process and be approved by the College Board. Schools must provide adequate resources to AP students and professional development to AP teachers. In addition, the teacher’s content must be approved by the College Board in order to be authorized to use the AP designation.

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Topics: Education, College Guidance, Academics

Encourage Risk by Taking Some

Posted by Max Schneider on Nov 1, 2016 3:58:00 PM

I’m bleeding down my leg, and my bike shorts are ripped, while I can barely hold onto my handlebars due to the road rash on my palms. My back wheel, untrue because of all the weight (50+ pounds) I have tied on top of it, is rubbing against the brake pads, slowing me down and making a sound like a rusty screen door. At an altitude of over seven thousand feet with a sunburnt neck, I have zero cell phone reception and am trying to stick close to the roadside shoulder as cars and RVs zip by me inches away.

When most people think of vacations, they imagine a beach, book, and sun screen, or possibly an all-inclusive resort with mini-umbrellas in drinks. I get it. That’s the point of vacation: to relax in a different setting. However, to me, the relaxation portion of vacation cannot be truly appreciated without first challenging myself with something outside my comfort zone. That is why every summer, I take a bike touring trip for a few weeks. I’ve ridden across Greece, up and down the Rhine in Germany, through New England, and then just this summer, 1400 miles down through the Rocky Mountains of North America.

 Bike touring obviously gives me time to reflect on the past school year and contemplate ideas for the upcoming year. But it also gives me a basis from which to rely upon when pushing students to the limits of their own abilities. It would be easy for me to do so if I never challenged myself, but by voluntarily putting myself through a difficult task every summer in which I have to calculate risk every step of the way, I have the ability to empathize with the students who do so every day in my class.

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Topics: Education, Academics, Wellness

What Makes a High School Writing Program Successful?

Posted by Brianna Smale on Oct 25, 2016 5:30:00 PM


Writing is the foundation of much of what students will do in school and in their post-academic lives. As such, it is important to find a school that has a good writing program. A strong writing curriculum allows for flexibility so students can learn in multiple ways and encourages them to stretch and reach. We see the following as the key components of a successful writing program.

Writing Is a Process
For high school students writing essays, the process begins with selecting a topic. They look at what they want to discuss, why it’s important, and how they might approach it. Students should use concept maps for brainstorming so they can see the connections between their ideas as they work to build arguments.

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Topics: Education, College Guidance, Academics

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