Wednesday, September 10, 2014

One Mom's Opinion!

Jackson is new to the Brookstone family but we feel as if we have been there forever! The people at Brookstone have gone above and beyond to make us feel a part of the family! Three weeks into school and I have received more text messages and emails letting me know how he is doing or just asking how he is doing. We have never gotten this before! We love the family community and the people! Jackson has grown so much in the little time that he has been there. I would not change a thing! It is the best decision that we have ever made! He has succeeded academically, as well as socially! We will be forever grateful to what Brookstone has done for Jackson! 

We will be Brookstone cougars FOREVER!!! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Why Brookstone PK?

“I’m nerve-cited mama,” my little one said to me this morning, quoting a favorite cartoon. “I’m nervous about the first grade play and I’m excited about it!” 

By first grade, my youngest daughter has already spent three wonderful years in Brookstone Lower School and has been part of at least three big class productions (not including extracurricular recitals and other events).It amazes me that she will be able to perform in two productions tomorrow morning with over a hundred audience members.
Pailin celebrating 
Christmas Around The World,
representing Iraqi children

Brookstone is unique for many reasons but providing an education from Pre-K (now 3-K) to 12th grade offers some excellent opportunities not found in other schools. I have two girls enrolled now, and while I can’t offer the same expertise as a parent of a senior-lifer, I can tell you that starting my kids at Brookstone in Pre-K was an important decision that helped shape their experiences thus far.

As an anxious first time parent interviewing schools 6 and ½ years ago, a big item on my education wants list was foreign language, another was a sense of community or belonging, and finally a school where my children would be academically challenged. I interviewed with half a dozen schools in our area before I decided Brookstone was where I wanted my girls to get their foundation in education.

Brookstone begins offering Spanish language courses in Pre-K, and while that wasn’t my preferred first language, I found that an early education in Spanish language prompted interested in both my husband’s native language and my second language of proficiency (plus my girls learned the basics of Georgia’s second most spoken language). And really, foreign language is only a part of the greater cultural education available at school; my daughters have a diverse group of classmates with many different language and cultural backgrounds which reflects Columbus’s growing population demographics. The foundation my children got in their first years at Brookstone inspired my oldest daughter to love (yes, LOVE) Latin and my youngest to begin speaking French!
Ankita celebrating
Christmas Around The World.
Christians in Iraq have a
child read from the bible.
A bonfire is started and
if it burns to ashes there will be
good luck in the coming year.

Community is something not to be taken for granted at Brookstone. I could write a book on the number of times our entire school has rallied around families experiencing hard times, or those that suffer a loss. Brookstone means so much more than our Lower, Intermediate, Middle and Upper schools; it’s servant leadership experiences in local non-profits, donations to nations abroad, sunshine baskets, and helping hands. Brookstone community is about honor, character, compassion, and hard work. My daughters have been participating in servant leadership week since Pre-K, they learn that giving back to the community is important. It may sound saccharine and cliché, but that’s a lesson I want them to learn. Even if my girls don’t understand the greater social impact of their time and help right now, they will grow up with a desire to do good, to help, and to improve their hometown.

Brookstone has also offered my girls the opportunity to experience healthy academic challenge.  As a parent, of course I’m convinced my kids are brilliant! I don’t want them to hit a plateau and skate through the rest of their school experience. I can honestly say that every time my children have met a challenge, their teachers have raised the bar. Whether in mathematics or reading, my children don’t want for mental stimulation.
And you know, as a bonus… my kids get on stage at a very young age. An early childhood curriculum that has elementary aged students speaking in public can help reduce the anxiety of speaking in public as an adult. I know it worked for my oldest daughter who went from barely speaking in Pre-K to an acting debut in the Upper School Musical when she was in fourth grade.

Confidence is something tremendously importance in leadership, and whether that’s built through public speaking, academic challenges, servant leadership, or cultural awareness… my kids have had it all in their years at Brookstone. ANY time you can get your kids into this school is a good time, but if you can enroll them in Pre-K, you get the benefit of continuity of curriculum, a foundation in friendship and, the benefit of extracurricular opportunities available throughout elementary and intermediate schools.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Welcome to Brookstone

Hi, my name is Desu Imudia and I am 14 years old. I am currently in the 8th grade starting my 4th month here at Brookstone School. Yes, this is only my 4th month as an official Brookstone Cougar.

I recently moved from the state of Louisiana, down in New Orleans. I was just about ready to get  
Desu Imudia (right) with fellow teammate Molly Graham (left)
started with another day during the summer, preparing for school which was only just a few more weeks away. I had made plans with all my friends to carpool on the very first day of school, made sure to have my uniform pressed and ready, labeled all my binders and books, and even polished my brand new school shoes. I guess you can say I was pretty excited to enter that school.

But you know that predicament of when you studied so hard for that one test and you feel so confident about it, but as soon as that test gets put in front of you, you forget all the answers and your brain goes completely blank. Or when you apply for that one job and you are this close to getting it, but then the job position is no longer available.

Well, that is exactly how it went for me. Except for this situation, it had been a sweet dream being overrun by my mom’s opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic for my mother and her new role as a professor at CSU, but I was upset because I  had to leave everything behind; switch gears. I was beyond frantic because not only were we moving to a new and foreign place, but we only had 2 weeks to do so.

The struggle was definitely real once my family settled in our new home. I just never felt like I would be able to feel comfortable here in Columbus. I was also dreading the fact that I had to attend a new school, with new people, and new ways of doing things. I was scared that I wouldn’t find new friends who would like me for me, or find teachers that would dedicate their time into helping me understand, or find a subject that would entice my way of learning, or even find a meal item that would satisfy my taste buds and health.

But, boy, was I completely and utterly wrong. From the minute I walked into Brookstone, I knew that I was brought here for a reason and that this school was beyond amazing. Of course, it took time for me to adjust and learn my routes but other than that, I was set for a fascinating journey.

Brookstone welcomed me with wide arms, open hearts, and open minds. The Brookstone community is one of the best places to be. The understanding and involvement are impeccable! 

I admire the academic standards that Brookstone holds. They are advanced and met to match your skill. Even when it may seem a bit tough, they want you to push yourself and try a little harder because they believe in you. They want you to succeed. But if it does seem to be frustrating, you are able to ask for help and communicate with your teachers.

Communication is another high point. It may seem embarrassing to ask for help from a teacher even though we know we need it. But it’s easier to interact with teachers and peers in Brookstone due to the homey atmosphere. Plus, we learn that the only way to succeed is by understanding, and if you don’t understand something then you need to ask for help.

There are also so many ways to be involved in the Brookstone community as well. From football to tennis to golf, Brookstone offers a wide variety of sports for you to choose from. Plus, athletics are a great way to not only get involved, but also meet new people. That’s how I became closer to a lot of my fellow classmates here at Brookstone as a member of the middle school volleyball team. This school takes great pride in their teams no matter if they win or lose. They support each team with a tremendous amount of devotion.

            I have learned to love this Brookstone community. I have become family in these past few months. I understand now why my parents chose Brookstone for me and my sibling to grow up in. I am very much grateful for the many doors and opportunities that Brookstone has opened for me and will open for me in due time. And I hope to see the same opportunities being opened for you as well.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Seven Myths about Independent Schools 

Adapted from the National Association of Independent Schools:

In the world according to Gossip Girl, everyone knows that independent schools are full of rich, snobby, drug-addicted prepsters; and those are just the parents! Myths about independent schools are alive and well, recycled in media old and new, and we welcome this opportunity to tell the truth about these myths as they relate to Brookstone School.

Myth #1

Brookstone is a school for the rich kids.
While Brookstone, like other private schools, has a number of families with two professional parents, we also have a number of single parent families and some in which parents are working two jobs in order to give their children the best possible education. Brookstone also has a number of middle to upper middle class families who find a way to afford a quality education for their children, seeing it as the best investment they can make in their children's future, whatever the cost and sacrifice. The common thread among Brookstone families is that they place a high value on the education of their children.

Myth #2

Brookstone is not the real world.
Unlike the real world, Brookstone is safe, structured, and teaches and reinforces value. In this way, Brookstone is counter-cultural to the real world. However, Brookstone students are extraordinarily well prepared for the real world- for college, the workplace, and for life. Recently, an Education Longitudinal Study from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) showed that private school graduates in disproportionate numbers earn college and graduate degrees, report high career satisfaction, vote and engage in civic activities, and generally contribute to make the real world a better place. Brookstone alumni are in all parts of the world doing great things at work and in their communities.
The truth of the matter is this: Every one of us is dealing with things in our own life. We struggle. Our goal is to teach our students to put others before self and always be aware of the struggles others may be going through.  We mentor.  We have relationships with children at Fox Elementary and have exchanges with children in Africa. We study other people. We guide. And we counsel. We open our kids’ eyes to see those around them and give them a sense of empathy for others, with the ultimate goal of putting others before self. We hope that they will see others and put others before themselves – ultimately hoping that this becomes “the real world.”

Myth #3

Brookstone is not affordable.
Private schools such as Brookstone are expensive but not unaffordable. It is expensive to hire the best teachers, maintain small classes, and provide a full-range of sports, arts programs, and activities. And at Brookstone, we expect all of our students to participate, unlike public schools in which only the top athletes and artists are served.  We give those opportunities here at Brookstone. We want all of our students and parents to be involved.  Therefore, we seek a wide spectrum of students and families.
Brookstone offers need-based financial aid, which discounts the “sticker price" for a significant number of families so that they can afford to send their children to a high quality school. Do not be afraid due to “sticker shock.”  Approximately 20% of the students at Brookstone receive financial assistance. Financial aid is computed according to a formula that takes into account a number of things like the number of people in the family, assets and liabilities, the amount of taxes paid, and payments being made to other tuition-charging institutions. Families of relatively high income often qualify for some financial aid.
When you consider spending money on education, you will have to ask yourself: Is it worth it? Ask yourself - Can I put a price-tag on teachers and coaches investing themselves in my child’s life? Is there a price for the effect of excellent mentoring for our children? Teaching them character as well as academics? Brookstone teachers and coaches invest themselves daily in our students’ lives. The relationships built at this school are priceless and enduring.

Myth #4
Private schools like Brookstone are snobby and have cliques.
This is a common misperception that is totally dispelled by a visit to the school. We hope that you will find that we are an educational institution focused on character. We value the heart as much as the head. This sense of community pervades every aspect of who we are as a school and is the main value that our alumni take from the school. 
You may think that all Brookstone students have been friends all their lives and/or all their parents are friends. This is simply not true. We add students at every grade level, and the diversity of the program and the student body makes it impossible for students and families to remain sheltered and comfortable in a separate community. Furthermore, our parents don’t want that. Our new families are so quickly absorbed into the Brookstone community that it is difficult to tell who is new and who has been here since the beginning.
We constantly introduce new students, new friends, and new parents to the community so that all of us are meeting new people and building new relationships on our journey through the school with our children.
Families who have transferred to Brookstone, even from other private schools, frequently comment on the genuine friendliness and kindness of our faculty, staff, students, and families. While a number of our students have gone to school together since preschool, they love new classmates and making new friends.

Myth #5

Brookstone  lacks diversity.
Brookstone values an inclusive and diverse environment. All of our students benefit from being part of a diverse environment and understanding and appreciating the differences and similarities among friends from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds. The comfort that Brookstone students have with diversity serves them very well once they leave for college and in the workplace after college. Our student body is made up of approximately 20% students of color in the upper school and 13% in the school overall. We draw students from areas all across Columbus, outside of Columbus, and from other counties in Georgia and Alabama.

Myth #6

Brookstone has an alcohol and drug problem.
We do more at Brookstone in terms of drug and alcohol education than any other school in the city. Do some of our students struggle with the influences that pervade society? Yes. But, so do students who attend any school, whether it is public or private, in the nation. 
If we think that there is a place in any school, in any church, or in any community where students are not confronted with the issues of drug and alcohol use then we are being foolish. 
The key is education and arm our children with the knowledge they need to fight against the influences that they face in our society. We do that. We also make clear in every forum that here at Brookstone we firmly stand against the use of drugs and alcohol.  Does this mean that all our families and children are perfect? Not at all. None of us is perfect. But, we do not close our eyes to the issues. We deal with them and handle them in a serious manner. 
You can be assured that a clear and consistent message of the at-risk behavior of drug and alcohol use is something that is dangerous to the goals we desire:  the development of the mind, body, and spirit of the child.

Myth #7

Brookstone is only for really smart kids.
Really smart kids do graduate from Brookstone, but not all of our students come to Brookstone that way. Because of talented teachers who have high expectations and a school culture that encourages students to work hard, Brookstone is able to help good students become better students and great students become excellent students.   Our teachers stay after class all across the school to hold "tutorials" for any students who need additional help or want to review for tests. In the upper and middle schools, activities are not allowed to begin until extra help is over.
It is cool to be smart at Brookstone, and motivated students who work hard can enjoy great success.

We hope that you will find this attempt to debunk these myths helpful as you proceed through the admissions process at Brookstone School.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Brookstone Mother of Four Talks About Brookstone

Why I love Brookstone  

I have a long history with Brookstone School.  I have been a student, a graduate and now, a parent. I have seen the school through multiple lenses and over the course of decades.  And since I have two Upper School students, one Middle School student and a kindergartener, I get to see how Brookstone works from top to bottom and in between.  And I love every part of it.

I’m not alone.  My kids love school.  They love their friends and they love their teachers and I’m not just saying that.  As we were all gathered in the kitchen last night doing homework, one of them piped up about how much he enjoys all of his classes.  No one asked him this - he simply volunteered this information.  He said he’d been nervous at the start of the year, but now he honestly enjoys them.  Enjoys them.  Wow.  That’s saying something.

There’s also something pretty cool about hearing my boys talk to each other about school.  To overhear one say to the other - Oh, you will love that class – you should definitely take that next year.  Or, He is such an awesome teacher and y’all will really do some cool things in there.  Hearing comments like that make a mom’s heart full.  High school can be difficult, and some days are easier than others, but my kids love it.  They really do.

And I don’t think that just happens naturally.  The faculty and administration do an amazing job at making these kids feel like one big community – like a family.  The freshman retreat, Link Crew, and the grade chairs – these are designed to build bonds among our kids and to remind them that they are being looked after.  We should never take these things for granted because other schools simply don’t have them.

The middle school is no different.  And middle school is HARD - some would say harder than high school!  But when you walk through those halls – there is joy and laughter and a sense of camaraderie amongst the students and the faculty that I KNOW wasn’t there when I was in middle school.  My kids feel safe.  And when my 7th grader comes home and I ask him how his day was, and he says, Awesome – well, that’s simply remarkable.  Even if he can’t (or won’t :) elaborate further, that one word is all I needed to hear.  Awesome, indeed.

Then there is my big kindergartener - who has such an enthusiasm for school that it is surely contagious.  He bounds into school and bounds back into the car and he is always grinning ear to ear.  What more could you want!?  And the new uniforms?  He calls those his “special costumes.”  Love it.

But before you jump to the conclusion that Brookstone is my only school experience, let me assure you it’s not.

My children have attended private school, public school, Christian school, Catholic school and Montessori school.  We’ve pretty much done it all.  I’ve seen and experienced first hand a variety of schools in size, style and demographic.  And let me tell you, there is no place I would rather be than Brookstone.  I am so very grateful for what it has meant in my life and in the lives of my children.  I just can’t say it enough.

Community doesn’t just exist everywhere.  Kids don’t automatically feel comfortable or safe at school.  Parents often don’t know each other and certainly don’t know all the other kids.  Teachers don’t communicate with parents as a matter of practice.  Coaches don’t often have any involvement with their athletes off of the playing field.  These things matter.  And they are part of what make Brookstone different and so very special.

No school is perfect.  We know that.  No school experience is without its bumps in the road, rough spots or personality conflicts.  That is part of life.  But I am grateful to be at a school where I truly feel every teacher and administrator is FOR my kids and FOR my family.  That is a unique and wonderful thing and we should not take it for granted. 

So thank you, Brookstone.  Thank you for all you built into my husband and me as students and thank you for what you are building into our children now.  Thank you for the memories and friendships that have lasted through generations and for the amazing new families you bring into our lives each year.  Thank you for being visionary enough to change, but holding fast to things that have made you strong.  Thank you for teaching us that we lead as we serve.

Thank you, Brookstone.

And since it is the height of football season, perhaps it is only fitting to end with a cheer!  Do you recall these words shouted on the sidelines for years and years?  Maybe even saying them will conjure up a specific memory of who was with you at the time…what the uniforms looked like…what sounds were going on around you.  Just think about it…

I said, it’s great to be a Brookstone Cougar!  Yes, it’s great to be a Brookstone Cougar! 

Well, it is indeed.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.