Writings on the people, programs and philosophies behind BSS.

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The Future of BSS is Today

Aline Nalbandian and Erin Galante

Two parents reflect on school life and anticipate what lies ahead

BSS parents Aline Nalbandian and Erin Galante each have three girls in the school and share a unified perspective: as their children have grown and evolved over the years, so has their school. The time they’ve spent as members of the BSS community has only sharpened that perspective.

“We chose BSS for its warmth and the way teachers recognize and respond to individual personalities and strengths,” says Ms. Nalbandian. “For example, my girls are always trying new things – sports teams, leadership opportunities, community service. With BSS girls showing so many different and changing interests, the school ensures there is something for everyone. Looking ahead, I think I will continue to see innovation in the curriculum and in the kinds of activities available to the girls.”

With one girl each in the Junior, Middle and Senior Schools, Ms. Nalbandian has noticed consistent themes across BSS. She sees how students are encouraged to reach further and extend themselves. Sometimes that reach is initiated by the teacher, such as assigning a challenging book for a literature study or offering next-level math problems. Other times, the girls find their own ways to stretch themselves.

Ms. Nalbandian recalls one instance, when her youngest was in Grade 3 and decided to write a song with some friends. After rehearsing, the group approached Junior School Vice Principal Rachel Hughes and then Chaplain Reverend Cathy Gibbs  to see if they could perform their song at Chapel, which they eventually did. The best part? “None of the parents knew what they were up to,” says Ms. Nalbandian. “It was an ambitious plan and indicative of how they feel every day: safe and secure enough to take risks. That’s the school culture.”

Ms. Galante also recognizes the spirit of support and acceptance that Ms. Nalbandian describes. Her daughters feel a strong sense of community at BSS, with everyone pulling together in the same direction. Not only are her three girls always pressed to reflect and think more deeply, they are also encouraged to look outside themselves and see how others are doing. Adopting a global view and taking action are expectations embedded in their daily experiences, as is a sense of social responsibility.

To Ms. Galante, pulling together in the same direction also means continually moving forward.

“I love that BSS is always evolving,” she says. “That’s a tall order, given all it does already to excite and engage the girls. But the school is never afraid to tweak something or respond to a request or test a new path. For example, combining science and math in Grade 7. Or restructuring the Reach Ahead math program in Grade 8. Those kinds of adjustments are ongoing.”

As an engineer, Ms. Galante is particularly impressed by the school’s emphasis on STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art and math. The new building has given students more extensive opportunities to pursue design-and-build projects that require critical and creative thinking. Looking ahead, she expects that BSS will continue to improve on an already great model.

Ms. Nalbandian agrees, citing recent changes made in the athletics program by Sheila Allen, the new Athletic Director for the Junior and Middle Schools. Ms. Allen’s philosophy is to involve and engage all students. The younger they start, the more likely girls will stay with a sport or fitness activity their whole lives. “So there are teams at all skill levels and a place for every girl,” Ms. Nalbandian says. “That’s the kind of thing I love to see. So far in my experience, this school never stands still.”

With her youngest daughter – formerly a non-skater – now a player on the development hockey team, Ms. Nalbandian has witnessed firsthand the boost in confidence that comes from finding a place in sports. Ms. Galante sees similar growth in her daughters as they are encouraged to take risks in their learning and explore every activity available.

Recently, Ms. Galante asked her eldest daughter, Lauren, what she loves about BSS. After mentioning her friends, classes and a Senior School environment that fosters personal development, she added a final thought: “I think the school is always working to be better.”

Both parents agree. Their view is that while the BSS of the future will have different students, evolved technology and perhaps even new buildings, it will remain the same in one respect, as a place of continual improvement.

Warren Lang is co-owner of the freelance writing company Sumner & Lang.

By Warren Lang
Vol 2 2018-19