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News & Views - Feb, 1999 Issue #56 

Small Boarding Schools Association
Annual Conference

March 4 – 6, 1999
By: Jodi Tuttle, Roving Reporter 

This unique and extremely worthwhile conference was held at Tallulah Falls School in Tallulah Falls, Georgia. The Conference agenda was full of information useful to admission directors and boarding school personnel. Topics included common applications, recruitment, advisor/advisee systems and transitioning students from therapeutic programs to the more traditional boarding schools. Most people agreed that this is one of the best conferences they have attended in the whole year. 

One workshop of great interest focused on Ethics of Recruitment led by Paul Stockhammer, Headmaster of Catherine Cook School in Chicago. This is a major area of concern for all boarding schools and particularly for small schools. The small boarding schools are generally the ones that have a niche marketing area that includes something unique or special to the particular school. While the pressure is on all admission directors to fill beds, he/she also has the responsibility to accept applicants who fit the school profile. The effort to balance these two areas sometimes places an admission director in a position of needing to admit a student who might run the risk of dismissal. How ethical is it for an admission director to accept a student, know that the student and the school could possibly be damaged if the student is dismissed? Additional stress on the admission director occurs when the school does not offer a refund policy and the family stands to lose $15,000 to $25,000 in tuition that has been paid for a student at risk. 

What makes this conference so great is that the conference is casual, intimate, low key and filled with relevance for educational consultants and small boarding school personnel. The Small Boarding School Association began in 1987 with a few educators who gathered at Hoosac School in New York to talk about common concerns for schools with less than 200 boarding students and less than 250 total students. The idea was to have a place to gather where the cost of attendance for small schools could be affordable. In the beginning, attendees stayed in dorms vacated by the students over spring or winter break and all meals were served in the dining room. Nowadays, attendees stay in low cost hotels instead of dorms, but the essence of the conference has not changed. 

During the final business meeting, it was noted that while this conference was started by more traditional boarding schools, there is now a large attendance by Emotional Growth and Therapeutic programs and schools. These schools have discovered the great opportunities for networking and sharing information with traditional boarding school where they would like to send some of their students when they have finished. It was noted that there is a tremendous need for a gathering such as this for Therapeutic and Emotional Growth schools. The question arose, “Will the new National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs fill this need? Hopefully, it will! Congratulations to Bryan Green and Tallulah Falls School and also Karl Sjolund from Virginia Episcopal School, President of SBSA, for producing another great conference! We’re looking forward to seeing everyone again next year at Forman School in Connecticut.

Copyright © 1999, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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