As a student, Porter’s was everything I had imagined an all-girls’ boarding school would be. Namely, “community” was the all-encompassing word that characterized this unique educational institution. The small class sizes, a grade with fewer than 80 students, and a student body of just over 300 young women undoubtedly promoted community in a way that larger, coed schools could not. Yet, it was not just the quantity of students that contributed to the close-knit feel of our campus. It was the way in which the students were individually competitive and driven, yet externally supportive and encouraging of their peers to achieve academic, athletic, and other forms of success. As I struggled through biology my junior year, my friends would patiently help explain (and re-explain, more than once) concepts that I could not grasp. During athletic competitions, they would stand outside in the cold, harsh weather to watch me compete in a game they did not understand or care about otherwise. And, at graduation, we kicked off our white heels, linked arms, and sang “Moonbeams” before jumping into the fountain, our feet and dresses soaked from the water and our cheeks wet with tears.
It was not only the students who made this place feel like home, but also the adults in our community: faculty, staff, coaches, advisors, and administrators alike. When I became overwhelmed with frustration about my inability to just “get” biology, my advisor arranged a meeting with the Academic Dean and every other one of my teachers — English, U.S. history, precalculus, and Spanish — to discuss what learning strategies and study habits were giving me success in my other classes and how we might work to improve my study skills for biology. They, too, stood on the sidelines of my games on Wednesday afternoons, cheering me on and supporting other student athletes. And, as we processed down the aisle after receiving our diplomas, they embraced me with hugs — their cheeks wet, too.
Four years and a bachelor’s degree later, I’m working in the Office of Admission as the Office Coordinator through March.
Checking the visitor schedule, one prospective student had not yet arrived to campus. Looking at her contact information, I dialed her dad’s cell phone number.
“Good morning! This is Christina calling from Miss Porter’s School. It looks like your daughter wasn’t able to make it to campus this morning for her appointment. Would you like to reschedule?”
The father’s response seemed disappointed. “Well, she missed her appointment, so I guess now there’s no chance of her getting in.”
I assured him that is not the case and that families have to reschedule for a variety of reasons. Missing, canceling, or rescheduling an appointment has no bearing on whether or not a student will be admitted to Porter’s. “Our priority is to get students here to experience why Porter’s is the amazing place it is. We will reschedule as many times as you need to.”
He was skeptical. “That’s what you’re telling me because you have to, right? I work in business, so I know how it is on the other side of things. You have to say that.”
But I didn’t have to say that, and I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t the truth! Having now worked in Admission for over three months, I can say with complete honesty and confidence that what I felt as a student — and what prospective students and their families see and hear during our open houses or on Revisit Day — is not a facade. Being on “the other side” of things has only made it more — not less — clear how faculty, staff, and everyone in between values not only individual students, but the community as a whole. Teachers are happy to meet with students at breakfast, lunch, or dinner to provide them with extra help. They are happy to walk up to our fields and stand in the harsh weather to cheer on students at athletic competitions. Most of all, they are happy to see students walk across the stage in June, knowing that Porter’s has provided them with the strongest foundation and skills to help them succeed, as well as persevere through adversity, in college and beyond.