Last Sunday, Jill and I visited The Catlin Gabel School in Portland, preparing ourselves for the next stage of McKenzie’s education, and from my own personal experience, the decision where to send her to school has been weighing heavy upon my mind.
I am the product of a Milwaukee Public School education and looking back upon it I feel that overall I have received a decent one at that. During that time, I can recall my fourth-grade class as the worst, followed by my fifth-grade class, and middle school, on a personal level, was a disaster for me. Other than these stints, I have received a decent education.
Then I look at my daughter, and I want her to have an exceptional education, to receive that which I did not. Our tour of Catlin Gabel gave me a glimpse of what that exceptional education would be like.
The school has a campus setting, 54 wooded acres, spread across several buildings. Some stats gathered during our fact-finding mission were:
- Overall student to teacher ratio: 7 to 1.
- 74% of faculty members hold advanced degrees; all participate in ongoing professional development.
- Three-time recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics and Science.
- Students learn to think, write, and speak critically and independently. Enriched curriculum combines experiential learning with the arts, English, history and social studies, math, science, modern languages, physical education, and computer science. Each child is known and appreciated as an individual.
- 13 specialists teach visual arts, theater, and music offering over 30 arts classes.
- Four years of advanced computer science courses.
- Advanced honors courses in biology, chemistry, and physics, with 70% of seniors pursuing advanced science courses. 90% of seniors pursuing advanced math, culminating in Calculus 2.
- High School students serve on board of trustee committees. Opportunities are available for student leadership in community service, athletics, performing arts, robotics, publications (yearbook, literary magazine, student newspaper), Model U.N., mock trials, and others.
- Language learning for all students begins in 1st grade in Spanish, Chinese, or French.
- More than 80% score above 1200 on the combined SAT I, and 30% score over 1400, the highest scores in the state.
- Median AP test score is 5, the highest possible score.
- 100% admitted to college.
- 60% admitted to first-choice college.
- More than 75% attending the most selective U.S. colleges and universities.
- More than 20% national merit semifinalists or commended scholars.
However, do not be fooled by my “wanting to be a good provider” reasoning, for I also have a selfish reason for wanting to provide my daughter with an exceptional education, and that is to also receive the benefits and rigor of her education as Jill and I help her grow and develop in such an environment. I want her curriculum to challenge me as I am helping her with her homework or school project. I want to meet and learn from her friends’ and peers’ parents who also value an exceptional education, and in return, I hope that I can offer some bit of knowledge and insight in return. Most of all, I want to instill in my daughter a love of learning for learning’s sake and the value of an education.
Though we may look at other schools, I am smitten with Catlin Gabel. However, McKenzie has a couple of years before she can apply. The school begins accepting students at four-years-of-age, and McKenzie wouldn’t be eligible to apply until the 2010 school year.