Going the Distance at Inly

The Event
Going the Distance at Inly

The Purpose
The “Forest” View: To help current Inly families understand in real terms how this investment in an Inly education will benefit their child in the long run. To hear from other people who had the same questions along the way and can now speak from the experience of being on the other side of having taken that leap of faith.

The “Trees” View: To find out how the admission process and transition to high school worked for Inly graduates and how that will translate to my child.

The Panelists
One high school principal, one high school admission director, four Inly alumni parents, and one Inly Middle School graduate

The Alumni
Inly Middle School graduates representing the classes of ’02, ’04, ’10, ’11, ’12

The Alumni Parents
Representing the Inly classes of  ’99, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12

The Audience
Current Inly parents (and one grandparent) with children ranging in age from Children’s House through Middle School

The Format
Bob and Corinne Wagner P’08, Mike Brennan (Vice Principal of Boston College High School), Annemarie Goode P’09 ’12, Jon White (Director of Admission at Thayer Academy), Stephen Hartlaub, MD, P’07 ’07, and Ali Nagle ’12 kindly took time out of their very busy schedules to be part of our panel and talk with Inly parents about their experiences at Inly or with Inly students.

There was plenty of time for questions that were fielded by the panelists, as well as the impressive number of alumni and alumni parents in the room whom we thank profusely for coming to be resources.

The evening ended with four small-group sessions for parent-to-parent conversations about:

  • Public and charter schools
  • Catholic schools
  • Independent day schools
  • Boarding schools

The Panel
My two sons went to Inly from toddler through middle school and both are now at very traditional schools [Milton Academy and Boston College High School]. What they got from Inly that allowed them to start off freshman year running was the ability to do in-depth analysis, abstract thinking, and engage in their learning process. Because they had grown up in an environment where their teachers respected them and valued their opinions, they continue to contribute. They know who they are and have stayed true to that self. They see their work as an expression of their self and of their intelligence and they own their education. —Annemarie Goode P’09 ’12

Let me give you an example that embodies what Inly does for its students. Tucker Meehan, who graduated from Inly in 2011 and is now a sophomore at Thayer Academy, is a wonderful community person. He is a tour guide for the admissions department, so if you come to visit, it’s likely you’ll see him. He plays three sports (two varsity), has joined the Model U.N. competition club, and started an organic garden at Thayer. For the first time ever we’ve had food end up in the dining hall that was grown on campus. I can’t imagine we’ll ever not have a garden at Thayer because of Tucker. What he brings to Thayer from Inly is his passion, his ability to drive his own education, and an engagement with teachers and peers. —Jon White, Thayer Academy

A lot of big terms get thrown around at Inly Middle School—proactiveness, responsibility, self awareness—and there was so much discussion around everything we did, but I was never sure how I would use this in high school. Now that I’m at Boston University Academy, there is nobody saying “be proactive” or pointing out how classes have themes, but I found I could plan ahead and make the connections on my own! All of a sudden [my Inly education] made sense. —Ali Nagle ’12 (Boston University Academy ’16)

The Questions
There’s no doubt that the creative side of Inly is strong, but what about the math program?

Math is not my strength. I wasn’t on the same level as some of my Inly classmates who were ready for pre-calculus, but that’s about Max Zotz, not Inly. I own that and I was still prepared for regular freshman math at BC High. —Max Zotz ’02 (Boston College High School ’06, Brandeis University ’11)

When my oldest daughter was in public school, I attended her first grade conference and the teacher said she was ready to start teaching her math. Start. That’s when we started looking at other schools. Gabrielle ended up loving math at Inly and is now a chemical engineer major at Northeastern University. —Kristin Hunt P’08, ’10, ’11

Inly prepared me for learning math at Phillips Exeter Academy. We’re asked to think about the problem, not just solve it, which is what we did at Inly every day. —Lucy Knox ’12 (Phillips Exeter Academy ’16)

People are worried that there aren’t enough sports at Inly so how will they do well in that arena in high school?

I played a lot of town sports and ended up playing sports all through high school plus two varsity sports in college. Not playing sports at Inly did not limit me. Kids who want to play sports are going to play sports. —Sally Meehan ’04 (Cohasset High School ’08, Colby College ’12)

I was drawn to BC High because of sports. It was easy for me to be here and still play sports outside of school. I liked having two groups of friends. —Max

Inly gave me the confidence to go out for football, a sport I had never tried before. —Mac Morris ’11 (St. Sebastian’s High School ’15)

How do you wade through all the great schools out there to find the right one?

Start with Donna and Julie and the folks here. They know your child and they know the high schools. Don’t forget you have leverage…we want your student. —Mike Brennan, Boston College High

As for looking at high schools, listen to your kid. And know that Donna, Julie, and the teachers will support you. —Stephen Hartlaub P’07

Start the high school search process early. Visit the schools, go the open houses, go to games or plays. Don’t leave it all to the fall of 8th grade. —Bob and Corinne Wagner P’08

How was the transition to grades?

Just for the record, we do take quizzes and tests at Inly. —Mac

Transitioning to a school that gives grades was not difficult at all. —Sally

I wrote my college essay about grades versus no grades. I preferred to learn with no grades. At the end of the day, grades can only tell you so much. —Max

Middle school and high school isn’t just about the grades. It’s about who your children become. —Karen Park P’12

Are high schools going to stop factoring grades and test scores into the admission process?

We take our cues from what the colleges are looking for. Yes, we look at test scores, but more and more we are seeing that as a narrow skill. We also factor in the narrative progress reports, recommendations, and interviews. We are looking for socially robust students to be leaders. —Jon

Try to take the competitive language out of your conversation about schools. This is an art, not a science. Think of it as a mixing board in a sound studio. You want to adjust the audio and filter out the noise so you get the right sound for your child. —Mike

How does placement into honors and AP classes work?

We use a combination of traditional assessment tools like placement tests, as well as recommendations from teachers. —Jon

Most freshmen take basic classes and then move into honors and AP courses the next year. There is always the chance to move. —Max

We call and or meet with the high schools whenever there is a question about a particular class placement. —Donna Milani Luther, Head of Inly School

Do you see a significant difference in preparation between Inly students and those coming from more traditional schools?

There is no difference in academic preparedness. High schools want a diverse student body…make a “check” in that column for Inly. —Mike

High schools are looking for a variety of students with different personal and educational backgrounds…kids who can challenge, electrify, and open up each other’s minds. —Jon

Is there an advantage to “going the distance” at your pre-K–8 school?

There is a lot to be said for staying at the same school from preschool through grade 8. To be leaders at that school is huge. —Jon

We cannot provide the leadership opportunities in middle school at BC High that they can get at Inly. There should be no anxiety about wrapping up a spot or getting ahead of the game. —Mike

The Advice
The work of education is messy work. We seem to be concerned about “branding” our children—figuring out what school name will they wear on their chest—when we should be concerned with their journey of finding themselves and figuring out who they want to be as people. —Mike

The school search should be an intensely private, personal, and family discussion, not one for the soccer sidelines. The comparisons made there are not meaningful. Have your 8th grader participate in the conversation. When they are able to articulate why they want to go to a particular high school, then you can sleep well as a parent because you know they own their learning and have become a self-aware person. —Mike

You’re going to come out [of Inly Middle School] with formed people. —Sally

You have to trust your gut and do what works for your whole family. —Tina Morris P’11

I like to tell families that this admissions process—how to take a self inventory, how to research options, how to make decisions—is one they will use many times in their lives. You will get to practice it for high school, college, and every job search. So look at it from that angle. —Jon

Further Information
Inly Middle School students have matriculated to the following high schools:
Avon Old Farms School (CT)
Beaver Country Day School
Boston College High School
Boston University Academy
Brewster Academy (NH)
Cambridge School of Weston
Cape Cod Academy
Catholic Memorial High School
Cohasset High School
Commonwealth School
Concord Academy
Dana Hall School
Davidson High School (NC)
Dublin School (NH)
Duxbury High School
Falmouth Academy
Hanover High School
Hingham High School
Hull High School
Landmark School
Lawrence Academy
Marshfield High School
Milton Academy
Newman School
Norfolk County Agricultural School
Northwood School (NY)
Norwell High School
Notre Dame Academy
Phillips Exeter Academy (NH)
Proctor Academy (NH)
Rising Tide Charter Public School
Sacred Heart High School
Scituate High School
South Shore Public Charter School
South Shore Vocational Technical High School
Stoneleigh-Burnham School
St. George’s School (RI)
St. Sebastian’s School
Tabor Academy
Thayer Academy
The Winsor School
Verde Valley School (AZ)
Vermont Academy (VT)
Woodward School for Girls
Xaverian Brothers High School

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