School Voices - From Knovva’s Global School Community
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This week’s featured Voice is Kyle Graham.

Mr. Graham is the Associate Head of School of Poly Prep Country Day School in New York City.

“You belong here.”

The reason I’m at Poly Prep is that I want our kids to believe these three words. We want students to feel that this is their school, no matter what their walk of life is, no matter what their parents do, and no matter what their situation is.

We want to empower students to feel like they don’t need permission from someone else to validate how impressive they are and what potential they have.

The purpose of education is to get kids to dream bigger and to open up their minds to what possibilities are out there in the world. Our goal is to have someone there for you every step of the way throughout your education, encouraging you to aim a little higher, to dream bigger, to go for it, and to get outside of your comfort zone.

“Anything is really possible.”

Poly Prep is an independent college preparatory school with a robust program in the arts and in academics. We’re a member of the Ivy Preparatory School League athletic conference.

I describe Poly Prep as a 166-year-old startup. The culture of the school is to think every day about how to innovate and improve. We’re trying to instill in our students an ethos of improvement, of trying to get better every day. If you have a growth mindset and believe that you can be a lifelong learner, anything is really possible.

There are 125 seniors in this year’s graduating class. They are attending premier colleges, including Cornell, Williams, Yale, Brown, Dartmouth, UPenn, UC Berkeley, Wesleyan, University of Chicago, and Oxford University. I oversee the counseling process, and when a student comes in and tells me they dream of going to a premier university, I say: “Don’t just aspire to get in.”

“You should aspire to get in and also try to be the student body president. Dream bigger than just getting in. Reframe your mindset to believe that you can go there and make a real impact. And let’s even think beyond college. What do you want to do later in life?’’

I want to make sure that our team is encouraging students to get away from thinking someone else can bestow upon them, “OK, you’ve arrived, you got into this particular college, therefore you’re worthy of a wonderful career path and opportunities.”

“International students make our community better.”

International students offer tremendous perspective. When you get into a class and discuss an issue, the more diverse the opinions, the backgrounds, and the experiences are around the room, the richer the conversation.  We’re working very hard to bring in students with interesting backgrounds from around the world. International students make our community better. In fact, one of the top awards for a first-year student is going to a student from China who came to Poly this past year. Two out of the last three years, an international student coming to the United States for the first time has won this highly regarded award at Poly.

Our Summer Courses

Our online summer courses are open to students around the world. The whole idea is to give students and families around the world a chance to continue learning and growing over the summer and find something that feeds their curiosity.

We are offering 36 online courses, and since we have incredibly talented faculty with wonderfully rich backgrounds and experiences, we can offer things like an online music class with Dr. Orrin Wilson, a Multi-Platinum music producer who teaches at Poly. When you live in New York City, incredibly talented people are in your backyard. So kids from around the world can log in to hear from these experts and get a taste of what they’re all about.

Anyone can take our online classes. The courses are going to give students a taste of what Poly Prep is like, and I hope that a few of the students who take a summer class will decide to apply.  There’s never been a more exciting time to be at Poly Prep than right now.

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