Is it our excellent teachers? Is it our 5/1 teacher-to-student ratio? Could it be the curricular freedom and professional autonomy that our teachers enjoy? Perhaps it's the mentoring and support students receive from our dedicated faculty and staff. Maybe it's our selective admissions process that creates a culture of excellence. Maybe it's all of the above, woven into the resources of an educational experience that costs almost $19,000 per-student-per-year to deliver.
There used to be a sign on the corner of 18th and Mississippi that made me laugh each time I drove past. It read, "Rivermont Collegiate, where there are no spectators, only participants." Perhaps my natural inclination toward sarcasm is what caused me to chuckle but in my mind, I pictured an athletic event without any spectators. Of course, we DO have MANY spectators at our events and, needless to say, I replaced the sign with one that touts Niche having named Rivermont the #1 School in Iowa for the second year in a row. But you know, there is something to that sentiment. In our classrooms, there's nowhere to hide. Our teachers will know what makes him or her special, and how to push them to new heights.
In a world where public school mandates flow from the US Department of Education, to the State Office of Education, to the District Office, to the Principals, and finally, land on teachers' shoulders, students are at risk of becoming caught up in the bureaucracy and lost in the shuffle. When state law requires the implementation of programs that are unfunded, superintendents, principals, and teachers are left wondering how they will make it work. That's not to say that you can't get a first-rate education at public schools (please forgive my double negative). On the contrary, some students thrive within the public system. We might be the best fit for one great student and a terrible fit for another, equally outstanding student - and the same holds true for Excellent public schools: It's all about the fit. If we value biodiversity and recognize its importance in making our world wonderful, we must value a diverse array of educational opportunities; one of which is Rivermont.
We hosted a very productive open house last week. Many new families attended and were deeply impressed. As members of the community, you are in a position to represent Rivermont in mini-admissions events of your own: in the car line, in the grocery store, on the soccer field sidelines, etc. There are a couple of common misconceptions about Rivermont that I'd like to ask for your help in correcting.
- We are a school for geniuses: No. We work with individuals; children who are ready for full engagement and want to work toward realizing their potential. Our admissions requirements are strong, but Rivermont is an option for students of average to exceptional academic inclination.
- We are a school for rich kids: No. 60% of our students receive some form of financial assistance. We're committed to having the best FIT students from a diverse ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural background. Towards that end, we make every effort to keep Rivermont affordable. This year's tuition freeze is a prime example.
Is there work to do? - Absolutely. Are we perfect? - Absolutely not. However, we do have an amazing culture of achievement, tremendous parent support, faculty with the freedom and autonomy to teach the children in front of them without regard to governmental mandates, and world-class support staff. Our school is programmatically nimble and can change with the times, and yet, it carries a proud 133-year history. As admissions season approaches, please take some time to reflect on the many reasons you chose Rivermont. You never know when having some personal stories will help a prospective family understand what makes the Rivermont experience so special.