Choosing a middle school or high school

Learn about: Choosing a middle school or high school from Denise Pope, PhD,...
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Choosing a middle school or high school

If you are looking for a middle school or a high school for your older child, it is really important that the child is part of this process. They are old enough to know the kind of style of learning that they feel more comfortable with. They are old enough to know the kind of friends that they like and want to hang out with. It doesn´t mean that they get all of the say, but what you want them to do is go to the school while it´s in session and shadow. And this is very important. Take them to the open house. Take them to the website. Let them talk to other kids who are there, kids who have gone there, parents, alums, etc. Get as much information as possible but there´s nothing like being there itself on a given day. That said, if they have a particularly bad shadow, that doesn´t mean it´s not the right school for them. So you can maybe ask to shadow again and keep in mind that there are different tour guides and there are different kids and it might not have been a good fit. So you want them to have a say but within reason. You want to go to the school yourself and feel like it´s a culture that matches your family. In the long run, it´s about the fit between the kid and the school. Not every school is the same and there is no perfect school out there. So your kid will thrive anywhere they go for middle school and high school, but they are more likely to thrive if it´s a good fit, if they feel like they belong, if they feel cared for, if they feel like they are learning and being challenged in a place that understands them and their unique capacities.

Learn about: Choosing a middle school or high school from Denise Pope, PhD,...


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Denise Pope, PhD

Senior Lecturer & Author

Denise Pope, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education. For the past 13 years, she has specialized in student engagement, curriculum studies, qualitative research methods, and service learning. She is co-founder of Challenge Success, a research and intervention project that aims to reduce unhealthy pressure on youth and champions a broader vision of youth success. Challenge Success is an expanded version of the SOS: Stressed-Out Students project that Dr. Pope founded and directed from 2003-2008. She lectures nationally on parenting techniques and pedagogical strategies to increase student health, engagement with learning, and integrity. Her book, Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students was awarded Notable Book in Education by the American School Board Journal, 2001. Dr. Pope is a three time recipient of the Stanford University School of Education Outstanding Teacher and Mentor Award.  Prior to teaching at Stanford, Dr. Pope taught high school English in Fremont, CA and college composition and rhetoric courses at Santa Clara University. She lives in Los Altos, CA with her husband and three children.

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