Spotlight on the Benefits of an Eighth Grade School: An Interview with Lisa Khakee

Lisa KhakeeWe are excited to share deeper insights into the Bank Street approach through our spotlight series featuring interviews with Bank Street School for Children educators on a variety of topics. Below is an interview with Lisa Khakee, GSE ’03, Director of High School Placement & Exmissions, on how we prepare students for the excitement and challenges of high school and provide tailored support around navigating this important step in the academic journey.

Q: How do you support students and their families throughout the high school placement process?
A: As the Director of High School Placement & Exmissions, I partner with students and their families throughout the high school placement process. In the spring of the 12/13s (seventh grade), I first meet with families to explore the variety of high schools that students have the option of pursuing, such as independent day schools, public schools, boarding schools, and parochial schools, and we construct a list of schools they might want to consider. Later, I meet with students to familiarize them with the process and what they should expect during the fall of their 13/14s (eighth grade) year. During the first part of the 13/14s, students participate in a high school prep class once a week and I remain in close contact with families to help guide them through this process.

Q: How does the Bank Street approach encourage students to discover their interests, strengths, and goals so that they’re prepared to find a high school that is best suited to their needs?
A: I ask the students! Beyond our meetings about the high school admissions process with students and their families, students independently fill out several questionnaires, which we review together to help identify the heart of what’s important to them. Whether it’s a strong performing arts program, an excellent writing curriculum, a focus on STEM, a school that offers Latin, or a stellar swim team—we aim to hone in on what matters most to each student.

Q: As a preschool through eighth grade school, how does Bank Street prepare students to excel in high school?
A: At Bank Street, our approach is designed to build a strong foundation and prepare students for success in high school and beyond. The 13/14s (eighth grade) curriculum is robust, offering students dynamic and challenging learning experiences that empower them to thrive in their educational journey. In addition, being the eldest in the school provides a unique opportunity that allows students to engage in meaningful leadership and mentoring with younger students. Most of all, I think our students really know themselves by the time they turn 13 and 14, allowing them to find a school that fits their strengths and interests best, and they have such agency and passion throughout the process at a pivotal moment in their lives. It’s very exciting.

Q: What do students learn through the application process?
A: Students gain a range of valuable skills through the process.I think the most important lessons focus on the development of time management, self-advocacy, and independence. Many students find their voice and build confidence as they explore high school options, by engaging in self-reflection, recognizing their unique strengths, and focusing on their goals for school and life. Additionally, since our students have gone through this process and found great schools that work well for them, I often hear that this experience helps prepare them for the college application process.

To learn more about where our recent graduates chose to attend high school and college, explore our High School & College Placement page, or register for one of our upcoming open houses to learn more about other aspects of Bank Street’s program and our powerful approach to teaching and learning.