A few months ago, my family embarked on one of the true adventures in the life of a family - we moved for the first time. At first, my daughters appeared unfazed. Rambunctious and stubborn, they continued to bother our neighbors with enthusiastic, unscheduled outdoor performances of “Sing” and “Descendants”. But, then it happened. While driving to look at what would eventually become our new home, my older daughter rode in the backseat with a pensive and forlorn look in her eyes. When we got out of the car I asked her why she was sad.
“Daddy...I’m not sad...I’m scared.”
“Why are you scared sweetheart?”
“Since we are moving, does that mean I can’t go to St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes anymore?”
That question got my attention. It got my attention in more ways than one. As a parent at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School, I can think of no greater gift to present one’s child than the gift of a world class education. And not only have I been fortunate enough to provide both of my daughters with this gift, but they have embraced the opportunities that come with such a gift.
Many faculty, staff and administrators at SSSAS have provided and continue to provide their children with the gift of a world class education at SSSAS. No doubt, access to such an education is more attainable when employed by the institution. And access to such a school like SSSAS, and Independent schools across the country, requires the school to offer levels of affordability. Truth be told, the true mark of an enlightened Independent school is how it embraces socio-economic diversity. The embrace cannot be forced - it needs to occur organically. It needs to feed the very roots of an institution's mission. Which is why a school’s commitment to financial aid is both necessary and fulfilling.
As an Episcopal School, we are called to serve. We are provided the opportunity to teach our children to reflect on what it means to be a consumer in the world and a servant in the world. As providers of access and affordability in the admission office, we are able to demonstrate service. We serve our families by providing them access to a world class education through affordable means. We value socio-economic diversity not because we are tasked to do so, but because it is part of the essence of who we are.
I received an email just recently from a parent who receives financial aid. I had informed her that we would be able to provide her with more assistance based off of her demonstrated financial need. Her response was symbolic of how grateful our parents are:
“Dear Jon, why am I crying every time we get some amazing help and news from you and your office!!!! I will forever be grateful for SSSAS. We are a very lucky family!!
Many thanks and [we] really appreciate all you do for our child.”
So if you are reading this and are wondering how you might be able to afford an Independent School tuition, know that schools like SSSAS want to work with you. We desire to provide access. We desire to make our education affordable. We desire to embrace your willingness to commit yourself to a world class education.
When my daughter declared her love for our school, I did not dare laugh at her comment and mention that we were only moving 5 miles away. I had given her the greatest gift I could possibly imagine. She had committed herself and there was no way I was going to break that commitment.