Tag Archives: ParishBridge

Life Prep Not Just College Prep

In my November blog post, I highlighted how Cole Jones’ ’14 post Parish experiences demonstrate the boundless mindsets of our first wave of graduates.

In January, Cole returned to campus and took questions from the juniors in my class, all of whom are members of the Leadership Institute ’18 cohort. It was perfect! With no advanced prompting from me, Cole shared his personal mission statement (something my students had just been asked to do) and espoused how leading a life of possibility requires one to develop a working relationship with fear (messaging I have shared this year with all students in my monthly chapel talks).

leadershipclass_crop“Cole speaking to us today was probably one of the most impactful moments I’ve had at Parish…He grabbed my attention from the beginning when he started to talk about working on a 67 foot schooner…The way he carries himself with his values and adventurous attitude is inspiring…I think that Cole helped us realize the importance of our personal credo. To be honest, a couple of weeks ago I didn’t see the point to the personal statement/credo, but now I see it as something I can use to guide me. I have come straight home to open my laptop and revise my credo making sure it’s what I want it to be…”

Member of Leadership Institute cohort’18 reflecting on visit from Cole Jones ’14.

Every school should be blessed with graduates like Cole and Emily Sher ’13. Whenever Emily is in Dallas, she stops by for a visit. Emily understands the power of networks and mentors in today’s complex global society, so she diligently cultivates ongoing relationships with her Parish teachers.

Emily also represents the best of what Parish seeks to produce. She’s a learned and intelligent person to be sure, but Emily is also defined by her tenacious work ethic, refined relationship building skills, and indefatigable drive.

Emily’s path to powerful internship experiences called on her to evidence each of these traits and more. She had chosen the University of Miami over an early acceptance at Wake Forest (I still remember our conversations weighing that decision!) because she embraced the challenge of a more cosmopolitan, diverse city. She has thrived at Miami, but financial firms like UBS and Morgan Stanley, which had become the focus of her career path, did not recruit directly at the University.

emilysher_2Undeterred, Emily took the initiative to apply to the Bermont/Carlin Scholars Program within Miami’s Business School. She was one of 20 students accepted after a two-part interview. As a Scholar, she completed a team-based summer project learning more about one of the major financial institutions, took a fall recruiting trip to New York to hone interviewing and networking skills, and ultimately landed a prized internship in Manhattan with Morgan Stanley this past summer.

At the conclusion of her 10 week internship focused on institutional wealth management, Emily was offered a full time position with Morgan Stanley which she will begin after graduation. Needless to say, that was an exciting exit interview (and productive summer internship) for Ms. Sher!

ParishBridgeLast February in this space, I introduced ParishBridge, one component of which is a professional experience of 15-50 hours depending on the senior’s course schedule.

Through ParishBridge, we are introducing our oldest students to the power of internships, network building and learning beyond the classroom. In an amazing and unexpected twist in ParishBridge’s first year, nearly 10 percent of the class of 2016 turned ParishBridge professional experiences last spring into summer internships (many of them paid!) last summer. In our second year, members of the class of 2017 – observing their peers in last year’s pioneer class – have been poised to capitalize on this unique opportunity. Already, they’ve investigated potential professional experiences with the likes of Disney, the Dallas Mavericks, the Perot Museum and Top Golf.


Combined with ParishConnect (which I highlighted last month), we are building a powerful and unique set of services. Together, they will equip our oldest students and young alumni with the skills and experiences they need to establish powerful networks – ones which will be essential to their thriving in the “complex global society.”

I anticipate that boundless futures, like those of Cole and Emily, will be the norm for Parish graduates to come, and I can’t wait to watch their individual journeys unfold!

Purposeful Innovation: Wondering, Questioning, and Creating Never Cease

senioritisWe have all been afflicted with it: Senioritis. 

Do you remember the sensations?

  • A debilitating loss of interest and urgency (mostly toward school).
  • Sheer revulsion at the very thought of school
  • A deep desire for liberation (especially from school, but parents sometimes make the cut too!)

Senioritis, notorious among high school and college seniors for generations, now even has its own hashtag: #senioritis. It’s amazing what you can find if you look hard enough. Already, with the calendar’s turn to 2016, present members of senior classes everywhere have a forum for sharing their plight with the world. Note: While the following statements may reflect the present mindset of some members of Parish’s class of 2016, these quotes are NOT from our precious graduates-to-be!:

  • Jan. 13, 2016: “figuring out the lowest grade you can get for the semester to still pass the class…” #senioritis
  • Jan. 14, 2016: “Giving up one class at a time” #senioritis
  • Jan. 14, 2016: “I’m surviving each week of school by thinking about the next weekend” #senioritis

As an educator, I’ve been fascinated – and candidly a bit hurt – by this phenomenon. After all, who wants to feel like the same students you’ve aspired to influence positively want nothing more than to be done with you? For many years, now, I’ve wondered if one day we educators might drive a stake through the heart of senioritis. But how?

Well, wonder leads to questions and questions lead to exciting new possibilities. Over this last decade, through our expansion and in the creation of our unique signature programs, Parish has used wonder and questioning to fuel our purposeful commitment to innovation.

So, wondering about senioritis, for example, begot questions such as these:

  • How might we make the last part of senior year one of the most exciting and meaningful periods of growth for students during their time at Parish?
  • How might the final weeks on campus energize students for their next life phase?

Over the last several years, a talented committee of Upper School faculty members pondered questions like these. Together, with input from colleagues and students, they have created Parish’s newest signature program, one which will launch this April with the class of 2016:

ParishBridgeRather than count down the days until graduation, seniors at Parish will now engage in five weeks of rich, personalized and meaningful experiences which prepare them not only for college but for the “complex global society” in which they will lead and serve.


Working around their AP schedule, students will create their own five-week Academic Coursework experience. Guided by a faculty mentor, students will develop an independent research project personalized to their area of interest. In the class of 2016, for example, approved projects include:

  • Analysis of 2015 stock market/prediction report for 2016
  • Case review on Texas family law/alimony
  • Effects of medicated/natural childbirth
  • Physics of golf swings
  • 1920’s writers of the Lost Generation

We recognize the pivotal role networking, internships and career-exploration will play in our students’ lives beyond Parish. ParishBridge will afford our seniors valuable exposure to these experiences. For their Professional Experience students will choose a career, service or creative domain of interest and have a 15-50 hour exposure over five weeks. Students will maintain a blog throughout the experience and share their insights with peers in May. Already, students have identified exciting opportunities such as:

  • Intern at ESPN NYC
  • Robot Entertainment (video game programming)
  • India to help open an orphanage
  • The Integer Group marketing agency
  • Bickle and Brewer law firm

Given that Lifelong Learning will be instrumental to their future success, and realizing that blended and online coursework will be a ubiquitous learning tool both personally and professionally, Parish seniors will take an online course of their choosing at some time before or during their senior year. Reflecting their personal interests, students in the class of 2016 have identified a rich array of courses including:

  • Brookhaven Online Jogging
  • Ashworth College medical assistant
  • AP Chemistry review (with Parish’s Mr. Abronowitz)
  • Texas Tech ISD Economics (HS credit)
  • EdX Basic Mandarin
  • Coursera Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Finally, there are Life Ready experiences we aspire for our graduates to have but have been unable to fit into our core or advisory programs. Therefore, we’ve designed it into ParishBridge. Seniors will return to campus during the five week ParishBridge program to participate in a series of seminars taught by experts in the field:

  • Financial Literacy
  • Leaving a Healthy Digital Footprint
  • Acing the Interview / Job Etiquette
  • Emotional Wellness and Resiliency
  • Alcohol, Drugs and Making Good Choices

Needless to say, we are eager for this latest example of Parish’s purposeful innovation to launch. We believe it will not only serve our seniors well, but will offer us lessons as our thinking continues for the broader vision for reimagining of our programs – Reimagine School.

Wish us luck. Our long awaited battle with senioritis is at hand!