The Coffee Talk was hosted by Director of Placement Erica Kasindorf, Placement Associate Elsie Andriamanantena, and Director of Psychology Clare Cosentino, and over 70 people were in attendance.
They opened the event with a brief presentation that gave an overview of Gaynor’s placement process with four fictional example students.
After the formal presentation, a student panel of graduating Blue Cluster students was introduced.
They answered questions about how Gaynor helps transition students to another school, as well as what they found helpful during the placement process.
They discussed how they selected their future school, including how much support they needed and what type of school they wanted to go to.
Aaron K. said, “I looked at independent mainstream public and specialized schools, and I decided on which school I really wanted to go to through revisits, narrowing down, and also the fact that I was able to understand myself as a learner through the transition class. That helped me see what I need from a school, and from there, I could narrow it down to which school offered more and which school could help prepare me for future things, like college.”
The students discussed taking the Independent School Entrance Exam, or ISEE, at Gaynor, and how being in a familiar environment made them feel more comfortable and confident.
They also talked about what their parents did during the placement process period to help them, with many expressing that encouragement from their parents had a positive impact on them.
Susannah V. said, “My parents did encourage me. You need to do it partially on your own, like you should manage your time and say, ‘I do need to do this.’ But it’s really nice when your parents say you can do it, too. Also, letting me decide what school I wanted to go to, saying ‘It’s your decision, it’s not ours. We want you to go to the school that suits you best.’ That was one of the best things they did.”
The students expressed what they were most excited about and most nervous about with regard to their new schools, sharing that they were nervous about fitting into a new community and adjusting to a new school, but also excited to be in a new environment with new people and opportunities to put the skills they learned at Gaynor to use.
Closing out the talk, they shared what they will miss most about Gaynor — a bittersweet sentiment as their physical time at Gaynor was cut short due to the move to Distance Learning.
Matthew F. said, “I will miss my friends and my teachers, because I’ve been here for six years, and a lot of them have really helped me be a better learner and be better at reading and writing. It’s going to be very hard for me to transition to a new school where I have to meet all the new teachers and make new friends.”
Lilyblue P. said, “Like I said before, Gaynor’s community is honestly so incredible. There’s nothing really like it. And even though we’re in online school now, I feel so connected with everyone, which is really incredible. The Gaynor community has just provided so much love, support, and it’s really like a second family. They’ve taught me so much that I wouldn’t know where I’d be without the Gaynor community. I really hope that I’m going to be able to stay connected and that I will stay connected with everyone. The teachers and people are so amazing. I’ve created really amazing bonds with all the students, all the teachers, and nothing can really compare to that.”
Reflecting on the students’ performance during the Coffee Talk, Ms. Kasindorf said the students did a fantastic job, and that their teachers should feel immense pride, as the students were able to use all of the skills they learned to eloquently express themselves.
“Once the audience logged off Zoom, every student smiled ear to ear with pride,” she said. “It was inspiring for the Gaynor parents to hear from our students, but it was even more incredible to watch the students realize the impact they made throughout the presentation! I am so proud!”