Hear what our parents have to say about EWS
We have been part of the EWS community for the last 9 years, and while I have always been impressed with the quality of instruction as well as the focus on character education; the way that EWS has adjusted to challenges during the pandemic has been nothing short of absolutely amazing. The school demonstrated the ability to be nimble, flexible and make quick decisions for the safety and educational needs of the students. EWS demonstrated, and clearly communicated, specific online learning plans as early as February in preparation that the school may need to close. They were proactive and consistently sought feedback from parents in ways to improve the experience the longer the online learning was occurring. In fact, the grades surpassed the curriculum goals for the year and went ahead in terms of academics!
We have 2 children, 5th and 7th grades and the online program included LIVE instruction, every day, for every class, including the arts, and physical fitness from March 12- June 12. This included projects, testing, homework and the opportunity for extra help. The teachers remained engaged and accessible to the children at all times. East Woods even continued to hold weekly all school meetings virtually to keep the kids engaged in the whole school community with opportunities for students to present material or sing. My 5th grader had the opportunity to perform 3x during these virtual assemblies.
These highlights differentiated EWS from every other public and catholic school on Long Island, but also, from other private schools as well. East Woods LED the way on Long Island for creating an engaging virtual environment for learning. I consistently spoke to other parents whose children are in other private schools and the consistent comment was that East Woods was really setting the high bar.
I couldn’t be more proud to be part of the East Woods community and look forward to the 2020-2021 school year.
~ Dana Bratti
Mia '21, Brayden '23
The Covid-19 pandemic caused a lengthy stay-at-home order in New York, forcing schools to switch to remote instruction, and leading many people to worry about their children’s education. Fortunately, our son attends East Woods School and was still able to receive quality, personalized, and comprehensive instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
The day after in-person schooling was suspended in New York, East Woods was up and running with virtual school. The administration clearly communicated their plan for remote instruction and it was obvious that the school had been preparing for this possibility for some time. From day one of virtual school, the teachers and staff were prepared and knew exactly how to handle the educational and technical challenges they now faced.
Every day our 5th grader logged into his classroom meetings without any help from us. He had been prepped ahead of time by his teachers and knew what to do. He had class every day from 8:00 am - 12:30 pm. This meant he received live instruction in Math, Science, History, English, and Foreign Language each day. He even had virtual music, art, library, and technology classes! The teachers were engaging, enthusiastic, and well prepared. There were assignments every day and tests/quizzes given weekly.
Most importantly, even though our child could not physically be on campus with his friends and his teachers, he was still able to connect with them every day. He was greeted each day in his first-period class by an enthusiastic “Buenos Dias” from his Spanish teacher. As each of his classmates logged into the class they greeted each other with the same amount of enthusiasm and excitement as the teacher. Being able to interact with his teachers and his classmates on a daily basis made the extended time at home a lot more tolerable.
We’ve heard from numerous friends living on Long Island whose children did not receive nearly the education or virtual experience that East Woods offered. Many parents we know we're trying to work from home in addition to them having to homeschool their children. With East Woods virtual school, we didn’t need to sit down and teach our child about fractions or the solar system because he was getting everything he needed from his extremely dedicated and professional teachers.
We cannot say enough wonderful things about East Woods School or the way the school met the unforeseen challenges they faced this year. Whether on campus or learning remotely, EWS continues to prove that they are the best of the best. With an outstanding faculty, caring administrators, and a community of wonderful families .... East Woods truly is the best private school on Long Island!
~ Parents of an East Woods 5th Grader
East Woods School did a fabulous job with our children during the period of remote online education. The technology worked from day one. Class schedules and homework were adjusted based on grade level and subject. Faculty adapted their teaching styles to keep children engaged during difficult circumstances.
East Woods stayed true to their commitment of each child as an individual. Online learning posed different challenges for each of our children. East Woods respected the uniqueness of each child and helped us to maximize the new learning setting.
At the same time, our school community remained close. With Thursday assemblies and different families singing the school song to all, the sense of school bonding was preserved. Frequent communication from the faculty and administration helped us as parents keep up with each of our children’s class assignments and maintain a sense of school community. I found this to be a particular distinction for East Woods. While all the schools our children are involved in tried very hard, East Woods had the most success in allowing the children to feel their community was still there, still caring. East Woods is much more than an academic institution, whether in person or online.
We hope the kids are back in the classroom in September, but if not for whatever reason, then I know East Woods will provide the best experience so that our children’s education continues as both scholars and citizens.
The most important thing as parents we can do for our children is to give them a foundation to succeed in the world. This foundation includes certain core academic skills, a sense of self, a sense of moral values, a sense of passion, a sense of community, and the confidence to take risks and lead. Our experience is that East Woods has provided this foundation for each of our very different children.
Excellent academics based on a strong core curriculum delivered by outstanding teachers inspire learning and provide the key skills necessary for secondary school and work to follow. Individualized attention and personalized learning programs can be provided for both overachievers and underachievers. An emphasis on creativity, public speaking, art, drama, and sports give children a chance to explore skills and passions outside the classroom to develop a sense of self. Character focus throughout all classes instills personal and community values from the beginning. A community of fellow students, teachers, parents, and families reinforces academic, creative and character development, and the PreNursery-8th Grade structure provides a safe and supportive environment for young children and early teenagers to be leaders in the school community without the additional pressures of high school.
East Woods is a place where you as a parent can be actively engaged in your child’s education – with the teachers, advisors, coaches, and fellow parents - that creates a unique individualized and supportive learning environment for your family.
East Woods has prepared our children to be confident in their abilities, to know their personal values, to understand how to be part of a close-knit community, and to be leaders in their respective endeavors – all of which has helped them transition successfully to high school, new endeavors, towards college and beyond.
~ Brian & Debbie Sweeney
Claire '14, Connor '16, Sean '18, Corinne '18, Helen '18, Devin '20, Brendan '23, Caitlin '26
The potential health, economic, and education effects of COVID-19 have taken on a very meaningful undertone for me. Many of us are working from home, and students restricted from going to school are trying to replicate their educational experiences from home. Terms such as social distancing, quarantine, facial masks, seldom used before, are becoming commonplace. Stay at home orders, and social distancing have become a way of life. In all this turmoil, some of our greatest casualties could potentially be our school children who would now miss out on not only their academic experiences but also the ever-important socialization and interaction with their classmates.
As a career educator who has taught and administered all levels up through graduate school, I have come to appreciate the importance of social interaction and group participation in a child’s development. The personal exchange of ideas and thoughts in a group setting is an extremely important aspect of learning. For these reasons, when I first heard of the possibility of East Woods School closing and going to virtual instruction on March 9, 2020, I was concerned.
When the unthinkable happened, the school was forced to close on March 10th, and virtual online instruction commenced on March 11th. As someone who has lived administratively through split-sessions, flexible scheduling, and modified day schedules, I realize how difficult it is to alter or change a school schedule during a school year. In addition to changing the schedule, there were technology, material, and staffing considerations. Teachers now had to immediately shift gears and conduct their lessons from home – with a one-day warning. This seamless transition, which took place at East Woods School, could not have transpired without a great deal of pre-planning and staff development prior to implementation. While many other schools were scrambling to set-up virtual instructional programs, I am proud to say that due to the indefatigable character of Laura Kang, Head of School, our virtual instruction started up immediately.
As I observed my son’s virtual instruction program take place each morning, I had some of my initial trepidation calmed. I became/was impressed by just how much planning and forethought went into making the program happen both academically and socially. For example, each student in the Upper School had his/her normal instructional program or schedule. However, instead of 40-minute periods, students now had 30-minute periods. However, Friday now had a full-day schedule with students having instruction in all major subjects instead of a half-day schedule, as was previously the case.
The virtual instruction program revolved around Google Meet, a video conferencing program in which students and teachers could easily see each other and interact onscreen during the class. Each student had a Chromebook laptop computer prior to the pandemic for their regular schoolwork, which would be an integral part of their virtual instruction. Students had the opportunity during class to interact with each other and the teacher. Teachers worked from home, presenting lessons as they would normally. Questions were asked, and teachers called on students to answer. Teachers clearly saw if students were not focusing on the lesson. Students saw not only the teacher but also their peers.
The virtual school experience for my son was as follows:
- Each morning my son, instead of going out to the bus, would prepare for his upcoming day of school at his computer. He laid out his books, binders, and all of his work in front of him and prepared for the upcoming lessons. I do believe in many ways, he has become more organized in virtual school. Each night dutifully, he prepared his homework fully knowing that there would be consequences in school if he did not.
- There was a 10-minute gap in time between classes so students could prepare for the next lesson or socialize and virtually interact with their friends. However, when class started, students were expected to be ready to learn.
- Some teachers used slide presentations on Google Slides as part of their lessons, but most used White Boards for presentations provided by the school to facilitate virtual instruction.
- Homework was given every day in pretty much the same amount as was given during regular school. Homework was checked daily by the teacher during class, and feedback was provided to the students. Students were held accountable for their work.
Regular tests were given in all areas as was the case during in-person school.
- Students were expected to complete the test during class time under the watchful eye of the teacher. They then took a picture of the test and emailed it to the teacher for grading before class was over with no exception.
- In addition to their academic class requirements, students were required to perform a designated amount of physical activity each week. Every student was required to keep a log documenting completion of at least 120 minutes of physical activity over the course of the school week and submit it to a teacher at the end of the week.
Some of the student work was project-oriented, similar to what would have been assigned during in-person school. Students had projects to complete related to their classwork.
- Projects were completed both individually and in groups, so students experienced an element of socialization and group work during the school day. Much group work was done by students using FaceTime or other means of communication with each other. All students were expected to become involved in group projects when assigned.
- Any students experiencing difficulty with their work could easily schedule an extra help period after the school day ended. This was done by emailing the teacher and setting up an individual extra help session on Google Meet.
- The Head of School frequently “tuned-in” and visited the classes to observe how instruction was going during the day.
- All of the academic course requirements for each class were covered during the virtual school term.
In addition to each student’s regular academic classes, students had the option to sign up for extracurricular classes. One program called ALPS (Advanced Learning Program) was offered to students in 4-8 grades during the regular school year on Friday afternoons. Virtually, the ALPS classes lasted 30-60 minutes each and included a) law, b) finance, c) photography, and d) world issues.
During the first weeks of the summer, many classes were also offered to students virtually. My son, for example, participated in a) Cooking with Chef Tim b) Spanish Adventures and c) Word Analogies. Other classes of varying interests were also offered.
Some of the things that helped make my son’s virtual experience successful were:
- He was expected to keep a regular schedule/routine as if he were attending in-person school:
- He woke up at a regular time each morning in order to be in class on time
- He ate breakfast and prepared for his day by getting dressed, washing up, brushing his teeth, and combing his hair
- He did his homework and physical activity right after school
- He went to bed at a regular bedtime to get a good night sleep
- A location within the house was chosen that was designated for the school day, a location where he could concentrate and be serious about doing his schoolwork with little interruption and then complete his homework.
- Shortly before school started, during study hall periods or between classes, he was encouraged to reach out to his classmates and interact socially.
- Virtual school was viewed as a serious part of my son’s daily schedule.
In each of the extracurricular classes as well as his regular school day classes, my son had academically challenging material, the opportunity to socialize with his classmates virtually, and a chance to learn some non-traditional material. The effort and hard work of the entire staff of East Woods School to as closely as possible replicate a traditional school has resulted in what I believe to be the gold standard virtual instruction program. I truly feel confident that my son’s academic growth is being fostered during this difficult time, and as much as possible is being done to provide engaging social experiences for the students.
Ongoing staff development and ordering the necessary materials and technology updates are preparing us for the possibility of having some form of virtual instruction in September. We hope that will not be the case, but we are prepared if it does occur.
~ Michael and Stephanie Allegra
John Michael '22
My family has been been a part of East Woods for the past eleven years. It has been nothing short of a wonderful eleven years. Both my son and daughter began in nursery; my son is now in alum and my daughter seventh grade. Nine years of success, triumphs, and growth. East Woods is the absolute best school with the best teachers. My husband and I are both dentists, and education is a priority for us. The education at East Woods is above anything we could have hoped for. Our kids are so advanced for their respective ages. I attribute this remarkable quality to the East Woods education. My daughter is able to tell us things in Spanish and French; normally most schools would start such curriculum in middle school. She is able to pick any instrument she wants to play, and she is encouraged to explore who she is. My son came home from a class trip to Shelter Island where one of the teachers captured a picture of him and his friends watching the sunset! This is emblematic of the warm nature of the school, and the friendships which have developed. All of these things are priceless.
Perhaps just as rewarding as the spectacular education is the social and family environment at East Woods. Watching my family engage in the community of East Woods has made me the happiest, proudest mother. I made the best decision nine years ago to send my children to this school. I send my children off everyday to their second home! The faculty, staff, even the maintenance team are all part of our extended family. I know my children are in the best hands each and every day. East Woods has taught my children confidence, respect, and kindness. Everywhere I go people compliment my children on their manners, helpfulness, and good nature. While parents play a big part in this development, I am confident that East Woods has brought out the best in the children, enabling them to be the best version of themselves, cultivated in a warm and educationally challenging environment. That is what East Woods does... creates amazing, caring, kind human beings.
~ Daniel and Allison Gambella
Daniel '19, Jenna '22
We are an East Woods family from Cold Spring Harbor with one son in the Upper School and and two alumni. Our daughter started her journey at East Woods in second grade, and our sons began in the nursery program. We have been part of the East Woods community since 2007 and have experienced the joy of Kindergarten graduation through eighth-grade graduation and everything in between (multiple times over).
Our family made the decision long ago to attend East Woods even though we live in Cold Spring Harbor with its well-respected schools. Attending East Woods did not mean we were not part of the Cold Spring Harbor community. We chose to involve our children in many activities of Cold Spring Harbor even though they attend East Woods. They have many friends from both communities. We are extremely happy with our choice of East Woods. Our children thrived in the private school environment. They were all provided with an excellent education in a small by design, nurturing setting on a beautiful campus. As a graduate of East Woods, our daughter was well prepared for a challenging high school curriculum which by no doubt was fostered at East Woods. She is passionate about science from her time at East Woods and is looking forward to applying to top-tier colleges this fall. Our sons are also excelling at East Woods and will also be well prepared for high school.
East Woods has met our expectations as parents. The school is a community of teachers, administrators, and families that believe in the investment of a private school education. As parents with years of experience at East Woods, we feel the school has much to offer each individual child as it builds and shapes them into model citizens.
~Joseph and Lisa McCartan
Morgan '14, Joseph '19, Andrew '21