I first met the school principle after being recommended to the B.E.N by a friend. In all the years since, I can say (and I don't say this lightly) that Ilaria Sheik is not a woman in a job, but a woman responding to a calling. I watched Ilaria guide my children, and all the B.E.N children, with deliberate care, diligence, and a sense of great responsibility that the children be allowed to flower not only as unique individuals in the present, but as future citizens. The environment is steadfastly positive, but built on a strong framework of shared responsibility to the school (students help in chores) and to each other. This responsibility to each other is discussed and embodied by the teachers, and disciplinary issues are handled in ways that are effective and transparent - but that also work to build stronger bonds and bring the students and parents together, rather than coming from a punitive or divisive standpoint. Communication from the school was consistent, and not just related to challenges but also to successes that they wanted us to know about.
When my children were at The B.E.N School-House, I truly felt that I had partners in raising my children. The school administration and teachers worked together seamlessly to create a warm, welcoming, and positive school environment for children and families at all times. We could always count on regular communication, all issues being handled fairly, and children being supported in their learning - whether it was learning from a mistake, celebrating a success, or working through a challenge.
We knew the B.E.N was the right fit for us the minute we took our first school tour. The calm energy and quiet nature of the school, along with the warm and welcoming presence of Ilaria, the school administrator, left us without a doubt in our minds. This was the place for our family. Ilaria kept in regular contact with us and was always available to help navigate various situations as they arose. Her flexible and loving nature as well as her incredible ability to connect with all of the students had an amazing impact on the lives of our kids at the school.
As a parent the engagement of the teachers is beyond what I could have dreamed. There is always a teacher available to discuss your child's day if you have any questions and if something occurs later they are receptive to receiving and responding to email. They really care a great deal about the feedback they receive. They are respectful and kind with the students whenever possible and consistent in the boundaries they set up. The language used by the leadership and teachers reflects what they ask of their students.
The principal is an excellent communicator and is extremely supportive of the children and their families. I truly feel that she appreciates my child's unique personality and that her top priority is to foster each child's development into caring, socially conscious, and curious people. She is always available for one-on-one discussions about parenting and/or education-related concerns. She holds workshops/lectures for parents of the students. When my son was first starting at the BEN, she communicated with me via text or email regularly to reassure me that he was fitting in well - this really helped with the transition and helped reassure us that our son was in good hands. I know she has done this for many other families as well.