Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

November 2014

Nobles Parents' Newsletter November 2014

Why Nobles? by Dean of Enrollment Management Jen Hines

I grew up in Amherst, MA. Amherst is known for a lot of things (The current town tagline is “Amherst, MA:  Where only the ‘h” is silent.”), but it is probably most known for being the home of three colleges (Amherst, UMass Amherst and Hampshire) with another two very close by (Smith and Mt. Holyoke). Education is literally the business of the town and, as a result, its public schools are taken very seriously and supported by the community. It was the strength of the schools that helped my parents to decide where they wanted to settle in the late 1970’s when my father’s job meant we would be relocating to Western MA. I went on from elementary school to graduate from the public high school feeling good about the education that I received.

I was in my first year of college when I got a call from my parents telling me that my sister wanted to apply to go to boarding school. I had some idea about independent schools from my college peers that caused me to do some thinking about my own experience. When I made a comparison between my public school experience as compared with their independent school one, my peers with the independent school background seemed to come out ahead every time. My parents, however, needed more convincing.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to any of you that many of the communities that send large numbers of students to Nobles have tremendous support for their public schools. It is likely true that families may have chosen to live in certain communities based upon the strength of the public schools. You only have to look as far as Boston Magazine to get a detailed look at school performance statistics for Eastern MA. As a result, I would imagine many of you as Nobles parents are asked; “why would I consider Nobles when our public schools are so strong?” I want to provide you with a few talking points to share.


  • Class size – in the “rarified air” of Amherst public schools, my average class size was 22 students. At Nobles, our average class size is 12.5 students, nearly half of what I faced. I was blessed to have some amazing adults as teachers but I know that their attention was stretched by the sheer numbers of all of us. At Nobles, our relational pedagogy allows for a level of connection between students and teachers that carries over into all aspects of our community, both inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Facilities – Towns in Eastern MA have certainly upped the ante on this with the construction of $100 million dollar high schools and the like. However, I would argue that new facilities don’t necessarily change the experience of education that occurs inside of them. At Nobles, our facilities probably speak for themselves. How many schools can claim to have a castle on their campus?!?
  • Access to the arts and athletics – Many public schools have been forced to make difficult decisions when it comes to the “extra” programs that have traditionally shaped a school experience. Frequently, performing and visual arts and even some athletic programs are the first to go as schools look to balance their budgets. At Nobles, we remain committed to our breadth of program which includes the arts and athletics. Our offerings within these programs have grown in these areas over time rather than been cut.
  • Experiential opportunities – How many public schools can boast a program with a philosophy that is integrated into both the academic and extra-curricular programs of the school? Nobles’ EXCEL program does just that by providing the tools, context and inspiration for each student to discover and pursue goals with confidence, creativity and responsibility.

Please feel free to send any prospective family in the direction of the admission office if they would like to discuss the decision between staying in public school and deciding to attend an independent school. My folks ended up coming around and sent my sister to boarding school. Now, they couldn’t be bigger advocates for the independent school experience!

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