Outplacement: Reflecting on the Past, Planning for the Future
The 10s year is the capstone of the Corlears experience. Not only is it the final year for our young students, but it is the culmination of all they learn throughout their time at the school. Here, we see the 10s emerge as leaders of Corlears as their values of compassion, imagination and critical thinking come to the forefront. Whether it be through constant support of their younger peers or by conquering their upcoming transition head on, the 10s exude a newfound maturity and confidence. Much of this growth is due to the work they do as part of the outplacement process. As students prepare for entrance to middle school, they are challenged as learners and begin to reflect on their past years at Corlears; ultimately emerging more confident and ready for their future.
While the outplacement process might seem intimidating from afar, students and parents begin their preparation as early as their 9s year, participating in various events throughout the year, such as the 6th Grade Alumni Panel where former Corlears students return to discuss their outplacement experience as well as their 6th grade experience. Meetings with 9s families begins in the spring, where they can start to make plans for the year to come. The 9s take a diagnostic ISEE test and receive individual feedback and suggestions for prep work as they look ahead to their 10s year. Director of Outplacement, Cassandre Henriquez, takes the class on a school tour and begins setting the foundation for skills they will need when they visit their future school.
The fall of the 10s year is filled with preparatory activity. Each week students participate in ISEE Test Prep; giving them the opportunity to feel comfortable with the test as well as the act of test taking itself. During this time students also begin interview practice; learning tips for making a good impression and participating in mock interviews. The administrative staff even gets involved, acting as interviewers for each of the 10s and providing feedback to the students. Early on in the process, it can seem overwhelming for students and their parents, but by the end, all of the work translates into a feeling of confidence and the ability for our 10s to advocate for themselves. Through the process, the 10s begin to take ownership of their outplacement experience, and their future. Cassandre says that as the year goes on “it clicks for them… they understand their leadership role at Corlears and want a school that continues to support that.”
The maturity that develops throughout the 10s year is largely due to the learning and self-reflection that the process requires. For many students, this is the first time they must look back on their young lives and pinpoint all that they have achieved thus far. 10s teacher Elisse says that the students “start to feel proud of their accomplishments” as they develop interview skills and reflect on what sets them apart from other students. While talking about themselves might feel awkward at first, they begin to see their own value as learners and as people. Students are reminded that placement is not just about being selected but it’s also about making selections and that they have an active role in choosing their future school. They put in work to present as strong candidates, but they also have a choice in the matter and are encouraged to think about the kind of environment they will thrive in as learners. With support from Cassandre and Elisse, the 10s research school curricula, clubs and attend tours, pinpointing what they want and expect out of a school. “As Corlears students, they’re empowered thinkers that are able to articulate what works best for them as learners,” says 10s teacher Elisse.
Corlears’ teaching methods recognize the whole child, and the outplacement process is no different. Cassandre is a staple in the 10s classroom, building relationships and making key observations about students, their personalities and interests. Doing this informs the selection process as parents and students work with Cassandre to choose schools that they agree fit the student. Former Corlears Parent Richard Brock reflects on his daughter’s outplacement experience: “Cassandre was a passionate advocate for Mei with schools. She had such confidence in Mei's capacity as a learner, and I know she communicated this to schools… someone at Dalton heard her loud and clear.”
Parents play an essential role in the process, and are equally supported throughout. Outplacement gives parents and children a unique opportunity to work together toward a common goal. Current 10s parent Paola Origel says that “having to write and talk about our family interests, strengths and weaknesses with my son has made me understand him better and become closer to him. Before the outplacement process I thought I knew what type of school Adrian wanted and needed however throughout this process I discovered that what I believed was not necessarily accurate.” A strong relationship is built between the student, parents and Director of Outplacement, resulting in a selection of schools that uniquely match the student being placed.
The transition to middle school is certainly a milestone, and with the support of Cassandre, Elisse and their parents, students make great strides in the 10s and leave Corlears ready for what is ahead. Current 10s parent, Sabrina Coughlin feels that her son Emory “has grown so much through this experience, and now, while he still feels sad about leaving, he is no longer afraid of the future. He feels informed and excited.” It is the students’ hard work and the support from those around them that allows them to thrive in their final year and feel energized by the process, ultimately looking forward to what lies ahead. As Sabrina puts it “we feel certain that the experience he has had throughout his nine years at Corlears has been the right mix of warm nurturing and creative learning that will serve him well into the next stage of his education, wherever that may be.”