Finding Best Fit Secondary Schools for Whitby Graduates

Sarah Mead

Sarah Mead

And the envelope please…

Congratulations to all of our Grade 8 Students on the completion on the Secondary School selection process. The class of 2015 has received a plethora of acceptances from boarding schools, day schools and area public high schools. The process is marked with several stages of self-evaluation, collaboration, consultation, and transformation. It shows that here at Whitby, while the individual is honored and nurtured, the team that shepherds this growing independence is always on hand to guide, direct and support. The ‘proof is in the placing.’ Each student arrives at this decision from the arc emanating from a continuum of learning. The Secondary School Counseling Program is not the start of this journey, but a place where experiences and moments are gathered and learned.

The program is designed to monitor and build student profiles through a journey of collaboration that leads to awareness and self-actualization that are both nuanced and informative. It is the gateway of a career at Whitby that reflects our IB learner profile and educational continuum. This adherence to our critical thinking/educational risk taking culture at Whitby serves our students well.  They receive support throughout their journey and, in turn, leave our doors confident and prepared for the next step.

Behind the Process

“I get very excited when our kids get into schools…but I get more excited about seeing the children grow through this process” says Jacqueline Quigley, Director of Secondary School Counseling. The process Quigley refers to can be boiled down to a few crucial elements: “Allow your child a voice, their four year experience is their own. The students know themselves better than anyone, and they want to be at a place where they feel happiest. Focusing on academics is first and foremost, but families shouldn’t lose sight of the importance of the school’s culture, extracurricular programs and how the student fits in.” Parents should find it assuring that our students are prepared to not only make these choices, but to flourish at their chosen school. 

“There’s a school for everyone…at the end of the day everyone ends up where they should be,” adds Quigley. Quigley beams, “Everything about this process is finding a school that is a best fit.” Surrounded by the pennant flags of dozens of schools in Mrs. Quigley’s office, even on a grey and rainy day—when the door opens, warmth and excitement welcomes you in.

The process starts by meeting with parents and students second semester of Grade 7.  Then in the fall of the coming year, children attend the Whitby Secondary School Fair (co-hosted by Greenwich Catholic), which introduces families to nearly 100 day and boarding schools. Shortly after, building blocks of a strong foundation are put in place for exploring options through completing a questionnaire sent to both the parents/guardian and to the student. Says Quigley, “It’s easy to be courted by a name or a reputation of a school and it’s always a challenge to demystify some of these places. Not every child will fit at every school—that’s by design.” Adds Quigley, “When you allow the process to work, we will help you find the best match for child.”

Taking an honest look at all the information accrued as a Whitby student may seem like a lot, but, the experience in doing so develops a skill-set that can be taken far beyond the search for a high school.

“The students are serious about it,” says Director of Human Resources, Kristen Kaessler, who works with Quigley on this program, “Self-actualization is work. The more you put in, the more you get out.”

Quigley agrees, “It (the program) sets them up for high school—This process really forces them to dig deep, to be really introspective.” She is quick to add that students and parents need to “let the process work,” because “it will, it does” but she adds, “It is a dialogue.”


Following the continuum that is offered in a Stepping Stones to grade 8 school is optimal because the more information amassed during a student’s experience, the better informed a choice will be. “I LOVE Whitby’s model because it affords the child with this self discovery,” confirms Quigley, “It really prepares our students for their stage of their educational journey to high school.”

Kaessler agrees, “This self-actualization is an ‘ah ha’ moment for them; the light bulb goes off.” Stringing these moments together leads to an illumination for both student and parent that will provide confidence in their ability to assess, evaluate, and make more educated choices in the future.

The tapestry of schools Whitby reaches out to and those schools who reach out to Whitby widens and lengthens each year.

“Whitby kids have made their presence known, schools are reaching out to us,” says Quigley, “Our kids are confident in who they are, comfortable in their own skin and I know that this preparation, one that starts from Stepping Stones to grade 8, has provided them with this sense.  Schools recognize this. These kids are very appealing to schools. Again, the dialogue now continues, this time between prospective school with prospective student.”  


This year, the Class of 2015 has another diverse matriculation, 5 students to public school, 7 students to boarding school, 13 going to independent day school.

For the parents, it’s important, Quigley says,“to give your child ownership in school selection...they will most likely get the most out of the process and will be successful.” 

Sarah Mead

Sarah Mead

Sarah Mead is the Director of Marketing & Communications for Whitby School. Sarah's mind is a stirring pot of thoughts and ideas on content marketing, blogging, photography, videography, storytelling, social media, and website optimization. Working at Whitby has inspired her to reeducate the world about education, and to spread the passion, wisdom and expertise of the school’s talented faculty and staff.