As the school year winds down and we reflect on all of the wonderful work and experiences over the past nine months, I think of a commercial I’ve seen recently titled Monotune.
Android conducted an experiment, the kind you’d find students dreaming up at The Gregory School. Artists, designers, and music technicians wondered what would happen if a piano was re-tuned, so all the keys played one tone: middle C. In the video, the art director says “Something like a piano; you don’t think of them as sort of an analogy of diversity until you strip it down to one note.” To demonstrate the experiment, they bring in Ji, a concert pianist, to play the 3rd movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on both the regular and mono-tuned pianos. The comparison is striking and it’s clear that the melody can only be heard when you include a variety of tones.
It sounds a lot like our school.
The One Day Window
At TGS, we don’t measure students, or ourselves, by a single numerical score. While the content learned in Advanced Placement (AP) classes is excellent, the value of test scores is widely misunderstood. This last weekend we were fortunate and pleased to host the RMACAC Spring College Fair. The event included an interactive and engaging forum called Mythbusters: The College Application Process. During this session, students and parents worked with eight university admission professionals to understand and prioritize the many factors considered throughout the college admission process.
As the admission panel rearranged the components of the college application package, they placed AP scores toward the bottom of the list. As a matter of fact, the test scores are referred to as “a one-day window” into a student’s performance on a nationally-normed evaluation.
Universally high on the list were high school transcripts, recommendations and depending on the university, the SAT/ACT scores (over 800 colleges and universities are now testing optional). The singular message coming from all of the college admissions officers was this: Do your research and find out what is important to the college to which you are applying. But no matter what, be sure to have a documented track record of challenging and innovative academic coursework, deep engagement in meaningful activities inside and outside of the traditional school day, and evidence that you are a hard-working, responsible, and empathetic candidate.
Why a Personalized Education Matters
A recent story in the Arizona Daily Star pointed to how very different we are in this educational marketplace. For instance, the reporting of student-to-counselor ratios in our public schools is abysmal (and frankly, this reality should not be tolerated by any families in Tucson, Arizona). The Star reported that the ratios could be anywhere from 300 to 500:1.
At The Gregory School, we have a full-time college counselor with a ratio of 150:1. That means the process of developing good learning habits, structuring coursework, and being introduced to schools of interest begins before students enter their junior year. And when you shine a spotlight on that number, daily practice illuminates that he is able to meet with students throughout the school year in a small group (6:1) or one-on-one session. This kind of attention means that your children, their interests, and their high school career are known when it’s time to begin applying.
The message from college admission professionals is firmly aligned with the mission, vision, and experiences at The Gregory School. Families in the Tucson community are recognizing this and we are growing! As we work with our board of trustees to strategically plan our path forward, we will continue to make students and their families our priority. We will continue to make sure that our team of faculty, staff, and administrators are focused on creating and delivering diverse and deeply engaging learning experiences for students. It is our singular goal to provide an environment that encourages children to intentionally create, discover or refine their talents and passions while envisioning and planning for their very bright futures.
I feel connected and inspired by the tagline in the Android ad; be together. not the same. To quote Ji, “When we are in harmony and in unison, but we’re all distinctly different, that’s when magic happens in the world.”
This is how we have designed and constructed an education at The Gregory School. We haven’t been re-tooled to play on one note. Thank you for being a part of our diverse and transformative community.
Julie A. Sherrill, Ph.D.
Head of School
The Gregory School is a place that is transforming learning and transforming students' lives. Gregory students lead institutions, they found movements, they invent technology, they run cities. Students leave TGS with a sense of agency; they believe they can change the world for the better and it is our aim to ensure we give them the knowledge, skills, experiences and confidence to do so.Dr. Julie Sherrill