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Some highlights from where we have been and where we’re going next


Each fall hundreds of admissions officers from private day and boarding schools travel to New Jersey to attend the Far Hills Country Day School Fair. At this year’s fair, Holly met with representatives from Blair Academy, Dublin School, Cheshire Academy, the Craig School, Christchurch School, Concord Academy, and Wilbraham & Monson Academy. We also hosted private meetings in our office with professionals from Millbrook School, Kimball Union Academy, Westover School, and the Hotchkiss School. These opportunities allow Holly to personally connect with the admissions representatives on behalf of her school placement clients.


Holly returned to the Fusion Academy, Morristown campus, on October 4th for a meeting with Deb Russ, Director of Admissions and Outreach, and Liz Edwards, Outreach Coordinator at the Park Avenue campus. Holly toured the Morristown campus where some students were engaged in their 1:1 instruction while others completed independent work and socialized in the Homework Café.


Larry and Holly attended a special evening sponsored by Barnstable Academy and the Fusion Academy campuses in Morristown and Englewood on October 6th. They enjoyed opportunities to speak with faculty and administrators from these schools and to watch the inspiring TED talk by Ken Robinson, author of Creative Schools.


In November Larry traveled to Poughkeepsie, New York to attend the counselor event at beautiful Marist College, which included presentations on trends in College Admissions by a NACAC staff member, Melissa Clinedinst, who shared selected data from the NACAC’s annual report. On the same day, Larry had a long-planned personal meeting with Mary Jo Cavanaugh, the Director of the Office for Accessibility and Educational Opportunity at historic Vassar College.


In November, Holly visited Barnstable Academy, a day school for students in grades 5-12, in Oakland, NJ where she spent the morning with Luanne McGann, Director of Admissions and Outreach. Luanne explained their student centered approach to teaching which supports the academic, social and emotional needs of their students. Holly was particularly impressed with the Accent Reading program which uses a variety of teaching methods to address reading difficulties. At Barnstable, they stress the importance of community and want all their students to have a sense of belonging.

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Learning Associates founder and director, Holly Blumenstyk, has written an article regarding the nomination of Betsy DeVos to Secretary of Education.


January 18, 2017


In a recent New York Times article “As Other Districts Grapple With Segregation, This One Makes It Work” written by Kyle Spencer, I was quoted for my role in assisting families with private school placements. However, I also work closely with families whose students attend public schools and charter schools. It is in that capacity that I have tried to understand the role that Betsy DeVos, nominee for Secretary of Education, played in education in Michigan and what direction she may take in the national arena.


Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, a newspaper that advocates for successful charter schools and educational choice as options, noted in his article “Betsy DeVos and the Twilight of Public Education” that parents in Detroit have plenty of choices, but “quality choices are in short supply.”


In her Answer Sheet column in The Washington Post, Valerie Strauss reported that despite knowledge that most charter schools in Michigan were performing below public school averages in that state, Betsy DeVos was largely responsible for the increase in charter schools there. She accomplished this by donating large sums of money to PACs and lawmakers that supported charter schools. This ultimately led to the derailment of a bipartisan provision to provide more oversight of charter schools in order to monitor and improve the quality of education provided to the children attending them.


Stephen Henderson defined public education as “a trust between government and the people that seeks to provide opportunity for those who wouldn’t otherwise have it.” Betsy DeVos does not have a background as an educator and her priorities in the past raise concerns about the funding and availability of a high quality education for public school students under her leadership. Let’s each do what we can to support that trust between government, families, and our children by ensuring a high quality public education is available to all students in our country.


Holly Blumenstyk, M.Ed., LDTC Nationally Certified Educational Diagnostician Director, Learning Associates

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This winter, along with the occasional snow flurry, we have had a flurry of inquiries about SSAT Flex testing. Families request this small group administration in our private office for a variety of reasons. In some cases, illness or athletic commitments prevented a student from attending a standard test date administration. In other situations, parents felt that their students would perform better in a more personal, small setting with fewer distractions.


However, some of the inquiries have come from families late to the process of applying to secondary schools or from parents who lost track of the testing requirements. They also tend to have questions about test deadlines, how to designate score recipients, and other details. Navigating the requirements of private school and boarding school admissions without the guidance of an independent educational consultant is often the root problem. We start this process early with our clients– spring, summer and early fall – to formulate a plan which tracks all of the various deadlines. Our program allows the student to properly prepare for every aspect of admissions: testing, interviews, and essays. Both students and parents are less stressed throughout the entire application cycle.


Of course, we are happy to administer the SSAT Flex test to all who need it. If you know a family applying to private day or boarding schools, please suggest that they contact Holly for her guidance.

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