Parent Perspective: Kristen Kissel | Midland School

Parent Perspective: Kristen Kissel

Want to know what it's really like to be the parent of a Midlander? Well, who better to tell you than our parents themselves! In this series, we’ll ask our parents the tough questions about all things Midland, from academics to the growth they've seen. This is the Parent Perspective.

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Winter 2021

While searching for the “right fit” high school for our daughter, we struggled and felt as though no place in our city offered what she was looking for. For us, her four years of high school would be where she’d begin to transition to adulthood. Days spent in traditional classrooms and after-school activities didn’t feel adequate enough to prepare for life beyond 12th grade. We were looking for something “more.” So, we started thinking forward to what we want for her in the future while honoring who is. After talking with her high school planning advisor about what an ideal experience looked like, there was only one school catalog that was given and that was Midland’s. After reading the literature, absorbing each word of the website, and watching every YouTube video (3-4 times) on Midland’s channel, we had to see this place for ourselves.

As we approached campus, Midland felt as though it was inviting us in with it’s breathtaking beauty, charming garden, and rustic buildings. We were smitten with Midland’s peaceful atmosphere. As we toured campus, we quickly realized that within the trees and pathways was where our daughter belonged. The classrooms weren’t like any classrooms she’d ever been in; they were open and warm and full of engagement. The teachers and students seemed to be part of a conversation rather than lecture and the art rooms were alive with paint, metal, pottery and sketches. The connection between the garden, farm, kitchen and dining room was inspiring. The horses, pets, and wildlife seemed to be an integral part of the community which was the final piece that confirmed that this would be the place that she would call “home” for the next four years.

My daughter is now a Junior and in today’s world of busy schedules, screen time, and overstimulation, Midland offers a peace that seems to be from days long ago. It’s a place where you can hear yourself think and connect with the world around you, not by looking at it through a screen but by living and breathing it.

There are so many wonderful things to say about Midland but the word that is always repeated when I share about this magical place is balance. Midland provides an experience to young people that simultaneously offers the past and the future, hard work and play, independence and reliance, security and risk, and focus on self as well as community on a local and global level.

I know that when my daughter graduates, she will be prepared for anything she wants to explore. She will be academically ready to take the next steps to college but equally important, she is learning skills beyond the classroom that will help her navigate the intricacies of life. Resilience, strength through connection and collaboration, awareness, responsibility and hard work are the important values that will give her the confidence and wherewithal to be anything.

This is the “more” we were looking for.

Thinking back to the time when we were wondering if boarding school was the right choice for our daughter, we asked ourselves, “what if this isn’t the right decision?” Thank goodness we also asked, “what if it is?”

By Kristen Kissel
Parent of Gillian ’23

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