By Rick Juliusson

As parents we wonder if our children will be ready for their “next steps.” Will they be able to handle the first day of school, graduation from Marshall’s cozy cocoon, the shift to middle school, and (gulp!) the big move to high school? Even more than ready, we hope they will thrive.

It is a big question for parents, including my wife and me. Our two boys are graduates from the Friends School of Monteverde, now dealing not only with the shift from a Friends School to a bigger high school, but with the added ooomph of the cultural shift from rural Costa Rica to urban America. “Will they be ready,” my wife and I (and our boys) worried?

The first good sign happened when we were meeting with admissions teams at various schools in the Twin Cities. They worked to understand different grading and reporting systems, alternative curriculum, and the progressive education approach, but they were very excited about our boys. They told us that they love graduates of Friends Schools, sharing things like:

“They know how to think.”
“They are interested and motivated to learn.”
“They participate actively and constructively in class.”
“They know how to advocate for what they need.”
“They have healthy relationships and know how to deal with conflict.”

These skills are helping my boys navigate the transition to high school. Sometimes there is curriculum they haven’t seen before, new methods to learn, new cultural norms to absorb, but they know how to navigate new terrain. They know how to find the information they need and make new connections–they literally know how to learn. And they know themselves and their values, so they aren’t losing themselves trying to fit in.

Yes, I’m a proud papa. I’m also a proud member of FSMN, impressed to the core every time I meet one of our graduates. They have their own stories to tell of their move to high school, their own challenges, but each and every one tells me they felt equipped and ready for the challenge.

We can’t promise your child will get straight A’s or join the varsity team in high school. We can assure you that the values-based, progressive education they experience here through grade 8 will give them the confidence, skills and grounding they need to thrive as high school students and, more importantly, as people. I say this as a head of school who sees the magic wrought by our teachers every day. I say it as a parent who is on the same journey.