Nerves.

Every Admissions Counselor experiences nerves the morning of an Open House. You never know, regardless of registrations, how many families will really show up, whether or not your student tour guides might be out sick or whether at the last minute someone speaking on your panel will forget to show up.

The day starts though, and despite your nerves, you lose yourself in the excitement. The excitement of your tour guides as they meet and greet all the new families, the excitement of the prospective students as you send them off to classes, perhaps the first of many they will take at Stoneleigh-Burnham School, and the excitement of the dedicated faculty and administrators as they talk about their love for the school and its programs.

As the day continues most Admissions Counselors will find themselves thankful for the positive attitudes of the various members of the community that prospective families meet. Stoneleigh-Burnham is lucky to have a talented and dedicated group of teachers and administrators from diverse backgrounds. We are lucky to have students from 15 countries and across the United States who speak more than 17 languages among them. It isn’t every day that you get to meet and study with girls from Rwanda, Canada, Mexico, New York, New Jersey and Florida.

However, no matter how fantastic your students are or dedicated your faculty are, there are still a few nerves when the panel of students and faculty convene to answer the questions of all the prospective parents. This is it, the moment of truth when parents are truly able to learn about the school. The answers are candid and the students are honest. In theory, this might be every Admissions Counselors worst nightmare, but it’s not mine.

During our last Open House I had five of our students, representing both day and boarding students in middle and high school, come together to answer the questions of prospective parents. As they introduced themselves, told what sports they play and what grade they were in, I settled in to listen to their answers.

“What is your favorite part of the day?”

A chorus of answers followed: the time I spend at the barn, my athletic practice, lunch etc. Each of the girls offering her own perspective on why these parts of the day are so important.

“Ok, since you’ve told me your favorite thing, tell me what you don’t like.”

I’ll be honest, even my confidence faltered for a minute when this question was asked. I should never have doubted the love that our girls have for Stoneleigh-Burnham School though…

The most common response was “there really isn’t anything I don’t like.”  You could hear the sincerity in their voices and you could see the honesty on their faces. These girls meant every word they said.

Finally, one parent raised her hand and asked “Why do you think all girl’s education is better?”

One of our students piped up and said “You don’t have to worry about your hair or what you’re wearing. You don’t have to worry about asking a question and being laughed at. It’s very safe and it makes it easy to learn.”

I smiled as I listened. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

To ask some questions of your own, join us for our next Open House, Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 8:30am. Register by calling 413-774-2711 ext. 257 or online at http://www.sbschool.org

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