Inspired experience based college preparatory education for creative and intellectually curious students
Early childhood through twelfth grade

Black & White PhotoAfter discovering impressionist painters when I was fourteen, I decided to become an artist. It didn’t take me long to realize, however, that I lacked any ability to create with my hand what I pictured in my mind. Soon after seeing an exhibit of photographs of the Farm Security Administration (FSA), my mother gave me my first camera.

As a teenager, I became interested in the snapshot as art. Photographs of my family as a girl, and then as a mother, were the focus of my camera. I spent five years at home with my three children, observing their growth through the eye of my lens. There were many days that I struggled to find value in just hanging around with my kids and observing their world.

My three boys are no longer little. Leo is off to college in the fall, Sam, to high school and Charlie is transitioning to middle school. I was fortunate to be able to follow them to Waverly, and to continue to document their lives and the lives of other children at Waverly. As they age, and the parenting climate of more, faster, sooner, accelerates, my photographs remind me of the creativity in their everyday learning. I invite you to be reminded of all that is extraordinary in the lives of our children at Waverly. Take a moment.

LilyAbout six years ago I went to a school fair in search of a middle school for our daughter. I ended up in a room with representatives from an independent Westside school. The first question a prospective parent asked was, “Where do your students go?”  The representative responded, “We have gotten students into Stanford, Harvard, Brown…” I was bowled over. We were looking for a middle school! My gut instinct was to run. I didn’t want, for my child or me, to live the next seven years gearing up to get her into the “right” college.

Here I am, however, seven years later, to share that Lily did get into the “right” college; thirteen of them, actually. And what makes them right is that they are right for her. Despite news that says otherwise, college acceptance can be accomplished without pressure, SAT preparation courses, hired consultants, or a cottage industry of professionals who prime children for this exact thing. Instead, Lily got into college by loving high school and being engaged in the things she likes to do.

One may think, “Okay, that worked for you, but our kid is not (fill in the blank).” Before completing this thought, allow me to share that we have a child who has struggled. She is not gregarious, doesn’t have 4.3 grade point average, is not a good athlete, would rather read manga than Tolstoy, hasn’t gone to Guatemala to work in an orphanage, and can’t take a standardized test to save her life. So how did she get into college? And not just one college, but many of them? This is how: Our daughter understands what it is to have a point of view, and to be able to engage with both the material and her teachers. When we visited Whitman College and attended a psychology lecture, Lily went up to the professor after class and asked him if he was aware of a particular study that she had learned about at Waverly. After about 15 minutes, the professor looked at her and said, “What is your name?”

Lily nailed interview after interview. She was able to talk passionately about the things she liked, without invented experiences or a script someone prepared for her. It is inevitable that the college application process is going to be stressful, but there is a difference between stress and sending the message to your child that they are not “good enough.”

We owe Waverly a lot, much more than we have paid in tuition. We have a child who has never in four years said, “I don’t want to go to school.” Who loves learning. Who is certainly “good enough.” I hope sharing my experience will help to put the college process into perspective for parents who may be starting the college admissions process with their child.

-Kenneth Robins
Parent of Lily, 12th grade

Counting On

October 27, 2015

Last Wednesday, my son Charlie made a game winning touch down, passed to him by my other son Sam, at one of two middle school flag football games I missed in one week. Fortunately, there were Waverly parents there, parents who not only gave them rides, but cheered them on, and later told me all […]

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Advice From The Class of 2016

October 16, 2015

Who is better equipped to give advice to 9th graders about high school than seniors? Enjoy these 23 tips for the appreciating and finding more success in high school from Waverly’s senior class. You may feel awkward or self-conscious about yourself. You may feel that you don’t fit in or have any friends. When I […]

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September 14, 2015

Carlos Aldaco’s face may not be one that is familiar to you. While his work at Waverly is not with the children, it is invaluable to the daily life at school. Carlos is a craftsman. He works on all the facilities at Waverly as a technician, painter, plumber, electrician, carpenter, and space problem solver. He […]

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Then & Now

September 14, 2015

If you are like me, thousands of photographs live on your computer.  The intention is to print them, create albums, or to in some way share and enjoy them with others. Every time I open my laptop, I see the ticking of the proverbial clock. As my children get older, time moves faster. The first […]

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Building Relationships & Community

March 26, 2015

My office is located at the elementary school just two steps from the bathrooms. Believe it or not, proximity to these facilities helps me to do my job. I am privy to all sorts of conversations between students, between students and parents, and between students and teachers (as I write this I see and hear […]

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Where In The World Are Waverly Graduates? Ian Rees, ’07

May 31, 2013

Ian Rees, class of 2007, began working on feature films, short films, iPhone apps, and more after finishing his college career at CSUN. For his Senior Recital (a requirement for his graduation) he hired a live orchestra and conducted them as they performed his original compositions in sync with scenes from movies that he had […]

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Where in the World are Waverly Graduates? Iris Helle, ’07 and Max Libbrecht, ’07

May 1, 2013

The second piece in a series of occasional reports on Waverly graduates. Iris Helle takes to the skies whenever she can. Iris Helle, class of 2007, always came to school on Halloween dressed as Lara Croft, Tomb Raider. She said she wanted to fly and she pursued her dream.  She received a Bachelor of Science […]

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Where in the World Are Waverly Graduates? Marly Young ’05 & Vivian Sullivan, ’05

March 11, 2013

Marly Young found the job of her dreams after a few months slinging coffee.  Marly Young, class of 2005, graduated from University of California, Davis with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in English Literature. After college, she, like many others, looked for a job.  Marly explained, “When I graduated I didn’t know […]

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