Working together to help children learn and grow in a complex world
Nov. 10, 2020
Reflections on moving to an independent school
By Ed Winslow, Canterbury Alumni Parent
When Ed and Sally Winslow’s two children started at Canterbury in its second year, the school was in many ways a grand experiment, much the way Canterbury is striving to offer school in a pandemic today. Their children, Margaret and Ted, thrived here, and Ed went on to serve on numerous Canterbury committees, including as president of the Board of Trustees. We reached out to him to share his perspective, which is particularly relevant to new families who have recently joined or are considering joining the school this year.
When Canterbury began in 1993, we were a happy public school family. My school-aged daughter adored her big class and had all the attention she wanted from her teachers. The picture changed in 1994, when my son was set to begin kindergarten. We thought a different environment might be a better fit for him.
So Sally and I began looking at the options in Greensboro, and we landed at Canterbury in its second year. We were looking for a community in which every child and family are known as individuals. We found that at Canterbury, and it was exciting to be part of the school’s beginning. I loved the great adventure of sending the kids to school in trailers and the spirit of watching it grow from the ground up.
I believe that being a member of a community of shared values, being known and cared for personally, and being held to individually tailored academic and behavioral expectations are critical foundations for any of us to grow into creative and contributing members of society. Canterbury’s faculty was totally engaged in knowing every student as an individual; personally involved with each one; and committed to each child’s development. I can’t think of a school option in Greensboro where you can be more assured that your child will be cared for personally and taught by a highly motivated and able teacher.
Families who are switching from public to independent schools often have a few concerns. We did: hesitation about religious education, desire to support our public schools, and wondering how to justify paying for something that’s otherwise free.
Canterbury’s ethos is grounded in an ecumenical Episcopal faith. They don’t insist on or teach dogma. They embrace the spiritual nature of a human being and they address that. My kids never had a thought they would become Episcopalian, but they do have a grounding in the spiritual aspect of their being. Canterbury helped them to understand themselves and to understand the world not just in material terms, but also spiritually. I can’t tell you how moved and impressed I was when I attended the chapel service at which my son delivered his 8th grade sermon. (Ted is pictured above, #12, with his Cougar soccer teammates.)
Students of different faiths thrive at Canterbury. They all attend chapel several times a week. I don’t think any of them feel devalued or excluded. And Canterbury’s culture of religious inclusion is a great way to educate everyone, including mainstream Protestant kids, about interacting with people of different faiths. This is a wonderful way to prepare children to become engaged and contributing members of 21st Century society.
There are many broad issues about public versus independent schools: political, religious, and educational. I think we all have an obligation to support public education. But when you’re making personal decisions, the overriding factor has to be what’s best for your children and your family. For us, Canterbury was the right choice.
It can be hard to come to terms with paying tuition for something that’s otherwise available at no charge. Here’s how we looked at that: the first priority is to provide for food, clothing, and shelter. Next is education (for your children and for yourself). Those are requirements. After those come lifestyle and philanthropy: what kind of house you have, what kind of car you drive, what kind of vacations you take, what causes you support. Those are all important. But education is foundational.
When you make those choices based on what’s the best thing for your child, in this community, at this time, you might well land where we did: at Canterbury.
With nearly three decades’ experience as part of the Canterbury community, I can say confidently that Canterbury is a safe, open, forward-looking place. To my mind, it’s a unique choice among public and private school options. I’m glad we have it in Greensboro.