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Guiding Grade 8 Students Through the Secondary School Search

Guida Mattison, Nashoba Brooks School's director of secondary school placement, wants to remove as much stress as possible from the high school application process that Grade 8 students go through each year.
"In the final trimester of seventh grade, we provide them with an individualized binder that provides all the information families need to get a head start on applications," Ms. Mattison explains. She has designed and run the placement program for more than five years, with the primary goal of "finding the best fit high school for each student and family—whether public or independent, day or boarding." She developed her program to support students and families so that they do not feel like they are going through it alone. 

With this objective in mind, Ms. Mattison coordinates teacher recommendation inquiries, arranges practice interviews, holds individual planning and check-in meetings with each student, provides general and specific essay writing guidance for students, and offers information sessions for parents. As a part of this process,  Ms. Mattison asked English teacher Mr. Stephens, who has been on admissions committees at schools where he previously taught, to attend her first writing workshop for Grade 8 students. Gathered together in the Sureau Family Discovery Barn, Ms. Mattison and Mr. Stephens walked through questions students might encounter, discussed narrative writing techniques, gave students time to write, and critiqued the work that each student produced. "Writing essays for applications is akin to answering questions in a job interview,” says Mr. Stephens, “It's a style of writing that might be slightly foreign to students, so I was happy to help when Ms. Mattison asked me to come down and share some insight." 

Demystifying the application process for students and their families in these ways helps students to manage all of the steps with greater self-assurance. As students gathered their things at the end of their essay workshop, Lilly, one of the Grade 8 co-presidents, expressed with confidence: "I feel so much better about these essays now!"

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Situated on a beautiful 30-acre campus in historic Concord, Massachusetts, Nashoba Brooks School enrolls all genders in Preschool through Grade 3, and students identifying as girls in Grades 4 through 8. Nashoba Brooks is an independent school designed to build community, character, and confidence in its students.
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