Reflections on College Night for Elementary and Middle School Parents


Dear SSIS Parents –

Last night my wife and I attended the Gr12 University Night led by our University Guidance Director, Mr. Robert Kostrzeski, and Ms. Erin Hawken, SSIS university counselor. Last year, we radically restructured the university guidance office to provide more individualized “boutique” services to SSIS families as they pursue the right university or college for their son or daughter. Mr. Kostrzeski and Ms. Hawken are now working with students from Gr8 to Gr12 on the process of planning for their studies once they graduate from SSIS.

Mr. “K”

This year we went even further and created a new position in the high school. Mr. Sean Schochet has joined the high school counseling team as our Gr9 & Gr10 counselor. He brings a wealth of energy and experience to his work with the academic and social needs of our younger high school students, while allowing Mr. Kostrzeski and Ms. Hawken even more time to focus on our Gr11 and Gr12 students.

We now have a powerful group of experts in the high school to serve our SSIS families. Our ratio of students to counselors is 37:1, which is better than many private, independent schools in the United States. Over 94% of the Class of 2017 were admitted to one of the top three universities they selected as they began to apply. Both of these statistics are great measures of our commitment to serving our students and families.

Ms. Hawken

I am grateful to SSIS for the wonderful advice and counsel my oldest child, Alex, received from our UGO, and this week she departs for Canada. Last night my wife and I were joined by Lea, our second daughter, who is a member of the Class of 2018 and will graduate at the end of this year, at the Gr12 University Night. I am deeply appreciative of the support we have received from all the professionals at SSIS: teachers, counselors, administrators, and support staff. This is a great community for students and their families.

But there is another thought that I would like to share with you as parents.

Nearly twenty years ago, as we welcomed the first of four children into our family, we knew even then that each day was a blessing. We have so enjoyed our lives in schools in the United States, and China, and now in Vietnam, and the opportunities we have had to travel and see the world.

But this week an important paradigm shift is happening for our family as it will, at some point, happen for each family here at SSIS. Where in the past the norm was being together as a family and the exceptions were the times apart when I was traveling or the children were off to a camp or a community service project, the new paradigm will be that we will be apart as a family most of the time and only occasionally all together under one roof.

Mr. Schochet

We all know as parents that our children grow up fast and, in the natural order of things, they will someday leave us to start their own lives and their own families. We do all we can to prepare them for that day, even as we will miss them when they leave us.

My message, today, is this: Do not ever forget that the day is coming when your child will graduate. While it may seem far, far in the future for parents in the elementary school and middle school, the years go by fast. Take every opportunity you can to spend time with your child. There is no such thing as “quality time;” there is only “time.” Eat every meal you can together, ask them each day about their highs and lows, show them as many places around the world as you can, and build as many memories as possible.

The day will come where they are ready, and even eager, to strike out on their own. In the meantime, though, each minute is precious. Don’t let them slip away.

Sincerely yours,

Mark Iver Sylte, Head of School