Jennifer is an alumna, Class of 1992, and is the parent of 2 PBS students, Classes of 2023 and 2025.
Community Spotlight is a weekly video series, running mid-August through March, that features interviews with Phillips Brooks School parents, alumni, teachers, students, and trustees, who share their insights about and their experiences at PBS.
Why did you choose an independent school education for your family
I think independent schools, a few things happen. I think of it as like a triangle approach. So you have a parent and a teacher and a student. At independent schools, I think it's really important to have that triangle approach to education. So I knew with an independent school what we wanted was, this team centered approach to our son's learning. And we have that.
Why did you choose PBS?
For PBS again, I'm an alumna. A proud one. I had such a magical experience here and then reconnecting years later with our son Channing. I knew that it still had the same spirit of this place that nurtures children for who they are and really wanted to develop them into these amazing, empathic, thoughtful learners. And we found that when we came back years later. And that's why we're here now.
What’s something you hope never changes about PBS?
This idea that people really love being here. Whether it's the administration, the teachers, it's the families, they choose to be here. And you can tell in a community. They're all very committed to the mission.
Also the size, it's a cozy nurturing environment and I never want it to grow beyond that. We know every family. We know the faculty. And being a part of something greater than us and feeling like it's an extension of our family. I think that's a really important part of the PBS experience. And I wouldn't want to see that change.
What has surprised you since you became a PBS parent?
So it's funny, it's probably as an alum, things feel the same. There's actually two teachers that are here that were here when I was around. Which is very special. And they also call me out at Back to School night. Which is embarrassing slash wonderful and I love it. Knowing that there's just that continuity. Whether there's teachers that are still around or the fact that the mission is actually stayed the same with the new administration. That surprised me. It was a happy surprise.
I'd say also as a working parent, a working mother, I thought I'd come in to a community and maybe have a harder time at an independent school finding my place. But I feel very accepted and like there's a role I can play as a working mom. And I think people make it work for me, so that I feel very engaged. I was very concerned I wouldn't have that. But I'm able to balance being a working mom and being a PBS mom and I love that.
How do parent philanthropy and volunteerism help shape the community?
So it's part of that connection between student and parent and teacher. We're a big part of the curriculum and I love that too. So I actually, I've come in a few times as a parent, where I've thought up ideas for sessions. And I've come into the early learning center where my son was. I did a Groundhog Day session both years, where we read a book on Groundhog Day and did a project. We've brought in special people in our lives. Grandparents, nannies, to come and teach sessions also.
How has PBS supported your child and your family?
One of the ways, I was thinking about this question, that PBS has supported us as a family, is giving us a common language to communicate with this little person. A pre-schooler. And pre-schoolers aren't always sure how to share their days. But there's some tools there. There's a parent portal with a blog. And I go on every day at work and refresh the website. So that I can see pictures and hear stories. So that when I get home at the end of the day I can talk to my son about what he did. And I love being able to share that.
Also we have our connection sign which is really big in the early learning center at PBS. And when we like something or we're really connecting on something outside of school. We use this all the time as a family. So I'd say a common language, actually in our house, that we can base some of our conversations on, in our interactions, that's been a really unexpected gift that PBS has given us as a family.
How has PBS’s focus on emotional intelligence impacted your child?
So I think of emotional intelligence as, being very aware as a person or a child of your feelings. But also being able to be aware of others feelings, that empathy. And I really notice with our son, Channing, that he has developed that. I definitely attribute PBS with giving him that character and that sense of empathy that he's developed in his classroom here.
How have you seen PBS teachers balance emotional intelligence with engaging academics?
So I think even with Channing, who just graduated from the early learning center. There is such an interest in obviously nurturing the whole child. And I think this idea that they're able magically here to tailor the curriculum almost to every child and every interest.
So, an example of that is, Channing lost his tooth, when he was at school in the early learning center during story time. And the teacher ran over and got him a special necklace, that he still wears with a tooth in it.Once in a while. And for the next few weeks, there was this fascination in that classroom because this experience with teeth and dentists. So the librarian brought in books from the library on teeth. They talked about it as a unit. And his experience as a little boy helped to drive and influence curriculum for the other children.
So I love that they balance this idea of what was he feeling when he lost his tooth, with sharing that experience with an entire class who hadn't had that moment. And making it something that was accessible and exciting for people to look forward to.
What do prospective families need to know about PBS?
So I think, families need to know, that they're signing up for a community. You're not just signing up for an education. That's, you know, a world class first-rate education. You're signing up to be a part of something greater. And you will be very involved as a family. You'll go to picnics, you'll have a host family that you get to know or that gets to know you. You'll be in the classroom, talking to the teachers, you'll have conversations with them regularly.So you're a part of something bigger. You're signing up to be a part of a family. And I think that that really surprised us.