by George J Elbaum
University Prep (U Prep) is an independent day school with more than 500 students in grades 6 through 12. While it is fundamentally a college preparatory school (as one might gather from its name), its goal is to prepare students not only academically for college but also ethically and socially for their life beyond college. It thus prides itself and emphasizes its formally-stated Mission, Vision and Values, and strives to ensure that these are “at the heart of everything we do at our school.”
– Mission: University Prep is committed to developing each student’s potential to become an intellectually courageous, socially responsible citizen of the world.
– Vision: University Prep shall be an inclusive community of learners that provides an outstanding education for each individual in a diverse student population.
– Values: University Prep believes that integrity, respect, and responsibility are essential to accomplish its mission and to sustain its vision.
While U Prep’s curriculum is rigorous, the educational environment is supremely supportive – entering students come from more than 60 different schools, public and independent (approximately half & half) throughout the Seattle area and beyond. Because many of its students commute to school from such a wide geographic area, the school facilitates this by University Prep’s Metro Custom Bus system – with more than 85 pick-up and drop-off locations, it serves students who live throughout the Greater Seattle/Eastside area.
The school prides itself in its diversity: 33% of its students and 29% of its faculty/staff are of color, and over 18% of its students receive significant financial aid. Average class size is 16-18, student/teacher ratio is 9:1, and 76% of the faculty has advanced degrees.
How does all this manifest itself in preparation for college? U Prep’s standardized testing scores are well above the national average; 46% of the Class of 2014 were Washington State Scholars, with ten National Merit Commended Scholars and three National Merit Finalists, 98% of the Class of 2014 is attending college this fall; and over 150 national and international college representatives visit the school each fall – a very impressive record.
My presentation at U Prep was attended by the 10th grade course Modern to Contemporary World History plus students from the history elective Modern Jewish Tradition, and their preparation and awareness were evident by their questions, some asked for the first time in the 70+ times I’ve made this presentation. It was organized by Karen Natorp Anderson, History Teacher and Head of the History Department, and was arranged by Amanda Davis of the Holocaust Center for Humanity. Also present from the Center were Karen Chachkes and Richard Greene.