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Fall 2019


My fall has kicked off with the Enrollment Management Association’s annual conference, where admissions officers from independent schools around the globe explored the theme “Prepare to Lead.” I have also just returned from the New York Women’s Leadership Summit, which brought together attendees from many career paths. It is thrilling to hear speakers discuss this topic from so many perspectives.

At The Bertram Group, we believe leadership is a process rooted in character, vision, and focus. Leadership empowers and inspires the pursuit of meaningful goals. We are so proud to join forces with colleagues, schools, colleges, and other institutions who demonstrate leadership every day in the service of young people. We are honored by the families who place their trust in us to identify educational opportunities that help today’s students become tomorrow’s leaders.

You will find leadership to be an underlying theme in this issue:

  • Holly shares research on how independent schools help families fulfill four primary goals.
  • Audrey offers a guest interview with Timothy Quinn about how Miss Porter’s School is innovating its programs to best serve 21st-century students.
  • I interview Peter Curran of Blair Academy, who outlines the role of storytelling in building leadership skills and in preparing for admissions interviews.
  • I discuss how schools are using the equity and inclusion framework, which was a common topic at the EMA conference. 
  • Jeremy highlights how parents can help prevent prescription drug abuse among teens.
  • Deena offers concrete strategies to developing effective communications with college students.
  • Michelle asks questions that reveal how to make the most of an internship.
  • Worthwhile Detours recommends parenting books and blogs that emphasize the teen years.

As always, we look forward to hearing from you.

Cammie and the Bertram Team

The Right Road

All families desire the “best” education possible for their children. However, that vision varies widely because of families’ diverse backgrounds, experiences, and goals. To clarify what parents hope to find in a school search, the National Association of Independent Schools recently conducted a study using the “jobs-to-be-done” methodology.

Organizations use this framework to consider how products or services match customers’ desired objectives... read more

From the Quad

In the constantly changing landscape of the 21st century, questions about how humans learn, think, and apply knowledge take on increasing importance. Fortunately, we live in a dynamic era for brain science, when advances in brain imaging and new ways of modeling are filling in profound pieces of this puzzle. Researchers are also approaching this question holistically, exploring what types of environments and stimuli best facilitate the growth mindset that fosters lifelong learning... read more

Action Steps

Whether for secondary school or college, interviews with admissions officers are an important—and sometimes stressful—component of the application process. Blair Academy,  a boarding school in Blairstown, New Jersey, uses the framework of storytelling to help students learn how to talk about themselves and their values. Their graduates report that these skills have helped them find success in almost every life arena, and the Blair admissions office presents workshops on this... read more

The Big Picture

As independent schools increase their efforts to develop student bodies and faculty that are more representative of society at large, they are also applying new frameworks to discuss and implement this vital work.

Parents may be most familiar with “diversity” as a word used to describe the range of backgrounds within a school’s student or faculty populations. One challenge with this word is that it is often interpreted as a quality that someone either has, or does not... read more

The Flip Side

With the increasing rate of anxiety in recent years, more medicine cabinets than ever hold benzodiazepines, which are prescribed for anxiety and insomnia under brand names such as Xanax and Valium. The growing availability of these pharmaceuticals is also accompanied by misunderstandings—and sometimes tragic consequences. While the opioid crisis is the most widely discussed example of prescription drug abuse, educators and health professionals in my network are also concerned about the... read more

College Bound

For families with new college students, autumn is often a whirlwind of emotions. Students are eager for the adventures that college brings, and parents are excited for their children take this important leap on the journey to adulthood. Yet both sides feel the loss of the day-to-day contact that has been the foundation of family life. In an age when technology makes constant contact easier than ever, what are healthy boundaries for keeping in touch? 

Barbara Hofer, a psychology... read more

Career Planning

You’ve dusted the confetti off your shoulders from National Intern Day and thanked your internship sponsors. Now it is time to ask three questions.

How did I grow as a professional?

Undoubtedly, you picked up some new skills or leveled up in ones you already had. You might have learned how to write a press release, manage a commercial property, or analyze a company’s financials.

Did you learn something about how to function in the workplace?... read more

Worthwhile Detours

Being a parent does not end as children grow up and begin to lead independent lives. It does, however, change significantly. How parents support teens and young adults as they make this transition helps set the tone for future family relationships.

To offer insights into these years, authors Lisa Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington founded a website called for parents of 15- to 25-year-olds. The site offers a... read more