Learn all about how Ms. Oppenheim has helped 8th graders at Beta Upper School through the high school application process!
All about Annie Oppenheim @Beta Upper School:
Along with teaching ELA and Social Studies, I have been directing the high school placement process for Caliber Beta's 8th graders for the past two years. I work to help each 8th grader and their families find a high school that is a good personal and academic fit for them by building strong personal relationships and understanding the vast array of high school options in and around Richmond.
A recent interview with Annie Oppenheim and two 8th graders:
What is your favorite thing about Caliber: Beta Academy (specifically Upper School)?
"I love working on such a small and supportive staff. The Beta Upper team is small but mighty and I so appreciate the experience of working in a school in which collaboration is so highly valued. There is a culture of support from our administrators as well as among our colleagues that I believe makes working here a unique and special experience."
Tell me more about the work you are doing with the transitioning 8th graders ?
"Sending a child to high school can be really anxiety provoking for families, so much of my work with this process has been around providing students and families with information and with time. We start discussing the process in the fall and have a required High School Options Night in which representatives from local charters come and speak about their schools. At this event we have computers on hand so families can log in and apply right there rather than having to go home and navigate the process independently. I also support those who are interested in local parochial, private, and magnet schools in navigating those more complicated application processes. From school visits, to admission essays, to financial aid forms, I try to support students every step of the way so there is no point at which things become so confusing that students choose not to propel their education's forward. Weekly office hours that are open to students and parents have been a great way to ensure all families feel their needs are being met and they are making a good decision for the coming year."
If you can relate the work you do to one of our pillars, which would it be?
"It's hard to choose just one because I hope I am bringing components of all four pillars into my teaching, but if there's one thing I hope students walk away from my class with it is HEART. In both ELA and Social Studies we've read many texts in which I push students to think critically about characters and really try to empathize and connect with figures being studied. History often feels so far behind us that it can be easy for students to forget that these people were human just like they are. I feel so strongly that having empathy and compassion is the best way to forge connections and bridge divides in our increasingly polarized society, so I hope students are learning the value of compassion and empathy in our studies this year."
Tell me more about how Ms. Oppenheim has helped you with your high school applications?
Jocelyn: “Ms. Op has helped us a lot! Because of her, we realized that it was possible to apply to private schools. We had a lot of 8th graders apply to Saint Mary’s this year. She prepared us for each step. She wrote recommendation letters for us and explained everything about the process. She advocated for us a lot and I’m thankful that we have teachers like Ms. Op!”
Jaimelyn: “She took us on a campus visit to help us learn more about private schools (St Mary’s). If I would have applied to high schools by myself, I probably wouldn’t have applied to a lot of schools. She helped me see myself in a “fancy” school that I thought I couldn’t afford to go to.”
What high schools have you been accepted to?
Jocelyn: “I have been accepted to Leadership High School and waitlisted for St. Mary’s and Summit HS.”
Jaimelyn: “I am waitlisted for St. Mary’s and two Summit Public HS’s.”
What makes you excited about high school?
Jocelyn: “I am excited for the new experiences and to learn more about engineering and challenge myself even more than I do here. It’s like a blank slate and I get to choose what I focus on academically!”
Jaimelyn: “I think meeting new people and experiencing new things. High school is bigger."
What is one thing you will miss about Caliber: Beta Academy?
Jocelyn: “Having different people to go to. I think that because high schools are bigger, there are a lot more students and we won’t be able to build great relationships with our teachers! We won’t have access to “our tias” (referring to Ms. Cardenas and Ms. Ashlee). We have family trees here and it’s amazing to have a family in your school. We won’t have that in high school."
Jaimelyn: “Caliber is like a family and it makes it easier to connect with others. A lot of us are going to grow in different ways and it’s scary."