Private schools have their own jargon just like any activity or affinity group has. Some of the terms which you will encounter come to us from England where private or public schools as they call them have been around for centuries. That's why you will see words you know with meaning you weren't expecting.
Here are some of the more common terms you are likely to encounter as you explore private schools.
Crew is the ancient sport of rowing. Rowing in shells is very popular in many private schools. Crew is offered in the fall and spring. Schools participate in regional and international competitions called regattas. Events like Henley
draw rowers from all over the world. Dorm Master
If the term sounds a bit scary, it is actually quite the opposite. A dorm master is a teacher who is in charge of and supervises a residential house of boarding school students. He or she in many ways becomes a surrogate parent providing stability and guidance for the mercurial adolescents in his care.
ESL is an acronym for English as a Second Language
. When a student whose mother tongue is Spanish, for example, learns English, he approaches it differently than the student whose mother tongue is English. ESL teachers are highly skilled, certificated professionals who know how to teach English as a second language.
is a term which describes an indoor sports arena where basketball, ice hockey and other indoor sports are held. The fieldhouses and other athletic facilities at many schools rival those found at many colleges and universities. Private schools take sports very seriously
and set aside Wednesday afternoons and all day Saturday for sports as a rule.
is another word for grade. It derives from the British public or private secondary schools. Form I is seventh grade. Form VI is twelth grade and so on. You will come across the term in older American private schools.
or the head teacher is a British term for a high school principal or chief administrator of a high school. It is commonly used in older, more traditional schools.
is another British term which has immigrated to American private schools. It describes a physical grouping of students in a residential or boarding facility. It is the essence of the boarding school ethos as it is houses which provide the structure and social framework within which adolescents interact, compete and enjoy a range of social activities.
IB is an acronym for International Baccalaureate
. This is a curriculum which is used at a couple of dozen American private schools. You will find the core curricula at most American schools focussed on the AP or Advanced Placement
The ISL or Independent School League
is a group of 16 New England schools who compete in various sports. It is the oldest league of its kind having been founded in 1948. These schools are all members of NEPSAC
LD or Learning Disability
is a term which describes the difference in the way a person's senses and brain process information.
is a teacher. The word takes its roots from the Latin magister
which means teacher. The term is commonly used in older, more traditional boarding schools
NAIS or The National Association of Independent Schools
is a national organization which provides a wealth of data and support for its 1500 member schools. It also lobbies for private schools in the various Washington, DC, fora and legislative chambers.
is short for preparatory. You will frequently see a school styled So-and-so Preparatory School. The term comes from the mission of schools which are devoted to preparing their students for the rigorous academic work to be encountered at the college level. In the U.S. it refers to K-12 schools with a college preparatory curriculum.
or Test of English as a Foreign Language is a test of English language proficiency administered by the Educational Testing Service.
Uni is boarding school slang for uniform
. Uniforms and dress codes are an integral part of boarding school culture.
schools are schools which adhere to the educational philosophy and methods of Rudolf Steiner. Steiner founded a movement known as anthrosophy of which Waldorf schools are a part.