What to consider when choosing a school

Learn about: What to consider when choosing a school from Paul Cummins, PhD,...
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What to consider when choosing a school

If you are a parent looking for a school for your child, be it Elementary or Middle School or High School, a couple things. One, I would make sure that the school took me on a tour. I would want to see what was happening at that school. Often, you can smell, you can see, and you can hear what's going on. Are the children smiling. Are there interactions between students and the teacher. Is there a general sense of joy in the school or does it feel grim and super serious. I visited one school where the kids were not allowed to talk as they went from one classroom to another down the hall. The place had no art and the wall. It was just grim. It wasn't a place I wanted to send my kid. You want to check out the atmosphere of the school. Then you want to ask the admission or principal, what their philosophy on education is. You want to see if some of the things that progressive education considers important, namely, joy and emotional well-being, respecting differences, understanding that all children have a different time table with things, are you forcing them into one time table or do you have an understanding that each child is different? Those are just a few things you would want to start looking at.

Learn about: What to consider when choosing a school from Paul Cummins, PhD,...


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Paul Cummins, PhD

Educator & Author

Dr. Paul Cummins, President and CEO of Coalition for Engaged Education (CEE), received his bachelor of arts from Stanford University, his MAT from Harvard, and his doctorate from the University of Southern California.  In 1971, he co-founded Crossroads School in Santa Monica and built it into one of Los Angeles’s most successful educational institutions and a national model for innovative, independent schools. 

In 1995, Cummins stepped down as Headmaster of Crossroads and formed New Visions Foundation (now Coalition for Engaged Education) to offer opportunities for Engaged Education to all youth. The first venture was New Roads School, a diverse, K-12 independent school in Santa Monica that has a deep commitment to social justice. New Roads devotes 40% of its tuition budget to need-based student financial aid, guaranteeing access to students from a wide socioeconomic array. Cummins has since implemented a number of innovative programs to help children at risk.

Cummins has published four books on education, including Proceed With Passion: Engaging Students in Meaningful Education (2004), and Two Americas, Two Educations: Funding Quality Schools for all Students (2007), both published by Red Hen Press. His most recent book of essays, Why Poetry? Reflections on Poetry, Writing and Culture, was published in 2009 by Xlibris, in addition to two volumes of his poetry and two children's books published in recent years. He is currently finishing Confessions of a Headmaster: My Pursuit of Joy and Justice in Education (forthcoming from Red Hen Press).

Cummins and his wife Mary Ann reside in Santa Monica. They have four daughters and five grandchildren.

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