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This podcast, sponsored by La Jolla Country Day School, explores the topic of independent schools. Host Inez Odom interviews experts in the field to offer a multifaceted view of the topic from many perspectives. Subscribe and listen on iTunes or Spotify.

Episode 1: Behind the Curtain: Insights into the Independent School Admission Process
Featuring Brian Murphy, Director of Financial Assistance and Enrollment Management, La Jolla Country Day School

Admission professionals truly place enormous care and thought into the decision process when considering applicants. This episode takes parents through the admission process and provides an insider’s view through the lens of seasoned admissions professionals.
Episode 2: Leading an Independent School in the 21st Century
Featuring Gary Krahn, Ph.D., Head of School, La Jolla Country Day School

Gary Krahn shares the latest in education around the world and his vision for La Jolla Country Day School. 
Episode 3: Data and Fit: the Head and Heart of Admissions
Featuring Geordie Mitchell, Director of Enrollment Management and Director of Strategic Initiatives, Buckingham, Browne and Nichols
Geordie Mitchell reflects upon the future of independent school education and the process needed for schools to make strategic data-driven decisions. He brings humor, insight and clarity to the topic of enrollment management. 
Episode 4:  An Investment for a Lifetime: Early Childhood and Lower School Admission
Featuring Payton Hobbs, Associate Director of Admission, La Jolla Country Day School, former Lower School Head, Ravenscroft School

Payton reflects upon the value of the independent school admission process in assisting families with learning more about their child’s journey as a student/learner. Establishing a love of learning from the outset is integral to laying the best possible foundation in a child’s life.
Episode 5: ISEE, Testing and the Admissions Process
Featuring Elizabeth Mangas, Chief Experience Officer, Educational Records Bureau and Rochelle Michel, Executive Director, Independent School Entrance Exam at ERB.

Many parents have questions concerning the Independent School Entrance Exam on behalf of their children. In this episode, topics such as test preparation, the weight of testing in the admission process, the people behind the testing and how the ISEE is used to evaluate an applicant’s readiness are explored.
Episode 6: The Role of the Board of Trustees and the History of La Jolla Country Day School 
Featuring Chris Richey, Chair, Board of Trustees, La Jolla Country Day School.

How does an independent school manage its governance? The Chair of the Board of Trustees, Chris Richey, shares his insights into the structure, charge and scope of the board’s activities. Further, Mr. Richey shares the rich history of La Jolla Country Day School through the story of its founder, Louise Balmer, as well as his vision for the future of the school as it moves toward its centennial in 2026.
Episode 7: Design and Innovation: Asking the Right Questions
Featuring Matt Abbondanzio, Assistant Head of School, Center for Excellence in Design and Innovation.

Design is a way of thinking—a method of distilling something down to its essence in order to remake it as simple as it should be. Good design intentionally relates to its context and responds to all potential points of view. Design is often associated with aesthetics, how something looks. Although important on one level, it captures a small portion of design. Good design relates and provides value to anyone who interacts with it. This is the standard to which we hold students in the Innovation Lab. Our students reach these goals by learning to develop their perspective through unique lenses.

How do we take students beyond STEM and STEAM into the world of inquiry and ethnography? The Center for Excellence in Design and Innovation at La Jolla Country Day School does just that. Whether through inroads into entrepreneurship or developing new technologies, this is a program that pushes the envelope for 21st-century learning.
Episode 8: Citizenship and Developing Student Agency
Featuring Jonathan Shulman, Director, Center for Excellence in Citizenship, AP Government & AP World History Educator, La Jolla Country Day School

Featuring Dan Norland, J.D., Center for Excellence in Citizenship, History Educator, Humanities Department, La Jolla Country Day School
What does it mean to be an involved citizen in the world around you? How do students learn about ethics, conflict, resolution and governance?  From mock trial to human libraries to model united nations to social justice, the Center for Excellence in Citizenship at La Jolla Country Day School is defining new ground.

Students have the opportunity to engage with the world around them in learning spaces that include courtrooms, stages and studios. They work with people who are practitioners in areas such as social justice and political leadership.
Episode 9: Kindergarten Readiness
Featuring Terri Zimmerman, Kindergarten Educator, La Jolla Country Day School

As a kindergarten teacher for over thirty years, Terri Zimmerman brings ideas, enthusiasm and insight into kindergarten readiness that is rooted both in experience and information. Through her playful sense of humor and keen intellect, Ms. Zimmerman reflects on how best to help parents prepare their children for kindergarten and the start of the lifelong journey of education.
La Jolla Country Day School's kindergarten is child-centered, honoring the intellectual, social and emotional life of each child. A rich and varied curriculum develops character and fosters a love of knowledge and each child's desire to learn. The faculty, through diverse teaching styles and interests, inspires creativity and imagination. In the words of Terri Zimmerman,  “I inspire greatness for a better world by teaching my children three key characteristics: confidence, risk-taking and grit. Confidence for a kindergarten student is instilling that ‘Yes, I can’ attitude in all endeavors. There are innumerable opportunities on a daily basis for risk-taking, a key component for successful innovators. Grit, the ability to stay on a task until completion regardless of challenges or frustration, will serve them in their future.”
Episode 10: Through the Lens of Art
Featuring Cindy Bravo, Director of Visual and Performing Arts,  La Jolla Country Day School.

Our mission in the arts is to provide an intellectual foundation through hands-on production in an array of media that develops confident, creative thinkers who form a lifelong appreciation for the arts. Courses include studio art, ceramics, engineering design, painting, graphic design, filmmaking and photography. Mentored by practicing artists, attuned to the continual evolution of the arts world, students explore and master varied techniques and mediums in the arts. We explore the opportunities and breadth of arts offerings at La Jolla Country Day School while also examining the important role of art in the lives of students as lifelong learners.
Episode 11: The Team, The Team
Featuring Jeff Hutzler, Director of Athletics and Physical Education,  La Jolla Country Day School.

The athletic program at La Jolla Country Day School provides student-athletes with an opportunity to broaden their educational experiences through a variety of team and individual sports by combining intellectual achievement with physical excellence. From basketball to water polo to rock climbing, students have a wide variety of options to choose. With our no-cut policy, students can participate on a team no matter their ability or experience. Athletics plays an important part in the life of LJCDS students as they find their balance between academic and athletic excellence.
Episode 12:  Leading with Dignity  
Featuring Donna Hicks, Ph.D., Harvard University

Based at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University for more than two decades, Donna Hicks, Ph.D., has successfully applied her signature dignity model on a global stage. Her clients  include the World Bank, the United Nations, the US Navy, and governments worldwide. She currently helps leaders in business, health care, government, education and other fields to create cultures that foster innovation and dignified human relationships.  La Jolla Country Day School is featured in chapter 5 of her newest book: Leading With Dignity.
Episode 13: Alumni Describe the LJCDS Experience

Please enjoy a specially recorded podcast with seven of our La Jolla Country Day School alumni who reflect upon the joy, relevance and impact of their La Jolla Country Day School experience.

Episode 14: Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs, Colleen O’Boyle

Colleen O’Boyle began her career, as an educator, at La Jolla Country Day School in the college counseling and English departments in the Upper School. She left to earn her master’s in English literature through Middlebury College, where she studied with some of the great professors of literature at Middlebury College, St. John’s College and Oxford University. Colleen has been a member of the faculty at High Tech High. Later she was a founding member of the Da Vinci Schools in Los Angeles and, specifically, head of Da Vinci Design.

Colleen returned to LJCDS as the academic dean of the Upper School in the 2013-2014 academic year, followed by her time as head of the Middle School. In her current role as the Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs, Colleen reflects upon the academic experience at La Jolla Country Day School and its ongoing evolution.
Episode 15: La Jolla Country Day School’s Middle School

The Middle School at La Jolla Country Day School (LJCDS) is where we cultivate the maturation of our young scholars in Grades 5–8 in an ever-changing time in their lives. A bridge between the Lower and Upper Schools, the Middle School challenges students within a nurturing environment and provides opportunities to explore a variety of academic offerings, technology, physical education, music, art, community service and leadership roles.

Enjoy this podcast with Ryan Song, Middle School Head for La Jolla Country Day School and Kristy Johnson, Assistant Middle School Head for La Jolla Country Day School.
Episode 16: La Jolla Country Day School’s Upper School

Our Upper School academic program serves to prepare students for matriculation and success at our nation’s finest and most selective colleges and universities. Our greater mission is to prepare students for life. The student experience isn’t solely about the path to college but about the journey of education. In honoring LJCDS founder Louise Balmer’s educational philosophy, we believe in the importance of balancing traditional teaching with a progressive approach.

Enjoy this podcast with Tom Trocano, Upper School Head for La Jolla Country Day School, Dave Jenkins, Assistant Head of Upper School for College Counseling and Student Life for La Jolla Country Day School and Rachel Clouser, Ed.D. Upper School Dean of Academics and Student Life for La Jolla Country Day School.
Episode 17: Lucy Conroy- President, La Jolla Country Day School, Board of Trustees

In this special podcast, we invite you to meet the new President of the Board of Trustees, Lucy Smith Conroy ’90. Mrs. Conroy is a La Jolla Country Day School “lifer” who joined the board in 2013 and became vice president of trustees in 2017. She was past president of the Alumni Leadership Council, Chair of the Committee on Trustees and a member of the Executive Committee.

Mrs. Conroy is a freelance theater director and member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society whose work has been produced both in New York and at regional theaters across the country. She is the former resident dramaturg at Court Theatre in Chicago. Mrs. Conroy earned a Bachelor of Arts in theater and women’s studies from Trinity College and a Master of Fine Arts in directing from Columbia University. Mrs. Conroy and her husband, Ambrose, have three children, Ben '24, Keira '25 and baby Sara. In this podcast, Mrs. Conroy reflects upon her experiences at La Jolla Country Day School and shares her insights on the school.
Episode 18: Leigh Pierce- LJCDS Middle School Science Teacher

After 25 years working in the biotech industry, founding and running her contract development and manufacturing company, and being a global leader in single-use technology for the production of biologic medicines, Leigh Pierce sold her business. After the sale, she realized she had a unique opportunity to make science come alive for students.By creating a new course that offers a hands-on educational experience with the same techniques used in industry to make medicines, students will be able to take the theoretical and make it practical by utilizing different fields of science to make a biological medicine from live cells. Her goal is to challenge and inspire students by teaching them how to make a medicine and create that “A-HA” moment when a connection is made between a student and a new idea.

Ms. Pierce is a native San Diegan and graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in biology. Her career has included gene discovery, cancer and infectious disease research, process and technology development, biologics manufacturing for human clinical trials and the founding of two companies. Ms. Pierce has two daughters at LJCDS.
Episode 19: The New Children's Museum- Tomoko Kuta, Deputy Museum Director and Kerri Fox, Vice President, Marketing + Communications

The New Children’s Museum is a new model of children’s museums whose mission is to stimulate imagination, creativity and critical thinking in children and families through inventive and engaging experiences with contemporary art. The intention is to address a critical need in our society and become a leader in engaging children through contemporary art in order to develop the skills needed for the 21st century. La Jolla Country Day School has engaged in a unique partnership with the Museum to heighten the greater San Diego community’s awareness of our shared love of children and their holistic development. In this podcast, Ms. Fox and Ms. Kuta reflect upon the upcoming season at The New Children’s Museum and La Jolla Country Day School’s partnership with the museum.
Episode 20: Susan Nordenger- Assistant Head of School for Philanthropy

Susan Nordenger never believed that teaching is a job but rather a calling. From the first day she stepped into her La Jolla Country Day School classroom, she knew she found the place she wanted to call home. After 10 years of teaching in the Middle School, Mrs. Nordenger worked with students to create an all-school community service program. This 19-year endeavor has been the most rewarding phase of her career. Mrs. Nordenger began teaching in St. Helens, Oregon. Those first six years were split between teaching in a self-contained sixth-grade classroom and teaching eighth-grade American history, English and literature. Mrs. Nordenger fell in love with student activities, learning to work and lead students out of the classroom. She began teaching sixth grade at LJCDS in 1987. She also taught seventh-grade English for eight years and the Upper School public speaking course for 17 years. In 1997, she became the community service director, and in 2004, the school implemented its global service program traveling to India, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Ghana, Thailand, Tanzania and Kenya.

The year 2016 brought another chapter in Mrs. Nordenger's LJCDS story as she took on the role of assistant head of school for philanthropy. She is excited to work with parents, grandparents and alumni in securing the future of the school and cultivating a culture of giving. Gratitude defines her life and experiences, and she finds there is no greater privilege than to stand side by side with community members as they realize their potential to make a difference in the life of this school and the surrounding community.
Episode 21: John Edman- LJCDS Upper School Math Teacher/ Varsity Baseball Coach

John Edman joined La Jolla Country Day School in 1998, and he is constantly reinvigorated by the sense of family and camaraderie as faculty and students alike strive to make the world a better place. He loves that students have the chance to experience a wide variety of academic, athletic, artistic and service opportunities while also being encouraged to pursue their passions and become excellent in areas of special importance to them. Mr. Edman graduated from Williams College with honors, earning a Bachelor of Arts in economics with a concentration in mathematics. After four years of teaching math and coaching baseball at his alma mater, Cranbrook Kingswood, in Michigan, he went on to earn his Master of Science in statistics from the University of Michigan while also serving as an assistant coach for the University of Michigan baseball team. He moved to San Diego in 1999 with his wife and three children, all of whom have been proud lifers at LJCDS.
Episode 22: Dr. Amy Parish- Humanities Teacher, La Jolla Country Day School

Dr. Amy Parish is a Biological Anthropologist, Primatologist, and Darwinian Feminist. She has taught at the University of Southern California in the Gender Studies and Anthropology departments since 1999. She is recognized as being a world leading expert in bonobo studies. Parish completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan in 1989. She received her Masters of Science from the University of California-Davis in 1990, where she completed her PhD. Her dissertation focused on sociosexual behavior and the female-female relationships of bonobos. In this podcast, Dr. Parish reflects upon her research and thoughts as a professor and teacher at La Jolla Country Day School.
Episode 23: Harry Bloom- Senior Vice President, Measuring Success

Improving financial sustainability, recruitment and retention, and parent satisfaction using data is the goal of the company, Measuring Success. In his independent school work, Dr. Bloom has developed and implemented a number of marquee programs, including the Atidenu Recruitment and Retention program, the Recruitment and Retention Academy, the Governance & Fundraising Academy, and the Day School Financial Benchmarking and Reengineering program. These programs have helped well over 100 independent schools enhance revenue, increase efficiency and strengthen their financial vitality.

Bloom has conducted and published independent school and nonprofit governance research that has identified practices that predict financial and educational success. Dr. Bloom has been a featured presenter at conferences for the National Business Officers Association (NBOA), the Independent School Association of the Central States (ISACS), the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS), the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals (AISAP), and the California Business Officers Association (CALISBOA). Dr. Bloom has a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and a Doctorate of Education degree from Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Education and Administration. In this podcast, Dr. Bloom reflects upon the importance of using data to help shape and guide success in the area of independent school admission.

La Jolla Country Day School

9490 Genesee Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037

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