In Their Own Words: New Families on the Shore Experience

While every family finds Shore in their own way and for their own reasons, there are aspects of that journey that are common to all. When new families speak about their transitions to Shore, shared themes emerge: the welcoming Shore community, the social-emotional support for children, the inspiring academics, the commitment to equity and inclusion, and the joy families witness in their children.

Read on to hear from new families in their own words about their experiences. 


According to Reenie Sanderson, whose son, Flynn, joined Shore’s fourth grade this fall, the transition itself was relatively painless. That was in large part due to the Shore community. “The whole family was steeling itself as it readied for the transition to a new school. However, throughout the summer before school started, we were greeted with numerous kind gestures from the Shore community—from the administration, his teacher, and even a host family that opened up their home and allowed us to meet other Shore community members. The warm welcome we received helped to take away some of the trepidation that we felt as parents, and also that our son may have felt as a new student at the school. We have been genuinely surprised at just how seamless the transition has been.”

Barbara Pattullo, mom of Millie in first grade, echoes the sentiment. “Shore has done an unbelievable job of making the new parent journey seem fun. It’s fun for students to be part of Shore, but really we are on our own new learning journey as parents, too. And we feel really supported. The communication level is really high, which means that you have opportunities to engage and learn when you want to. And if you miss something, there’s always an opportunity to have it revisited. I feel like, as much as an effort is made to ensure the students feel part of a community, there’s an equal effort made on the parent level.”

“Our experience so far has been remarkable,” attest Kelly and Jadi Taveras, parents of kindergartner Zuri. “From the beginning, when we were looking at independent schools for our daughter, Shore had a way of making us feel part of the community early on. We felt welcomed. Our family felt seen, and it felt genuine. Whether it was a returning family, faculty and staff, board members, or some friends of the school, folks were reaching out to us and making us feel part of it.”


If community support for families helps ease the transition into Shore, then social-emotional support for children helps smooth the entry into the classroom. “Shore faculty create an environment in which a child’s whole self is able to show up for school,” says Barbara Pattullo. “Millie loves everything about being at Shore.”

“It was always abundantly clear to us that Shore would provide our son with a rigorous academic schedule and curriculum,” explains Reenie Sanderson. “But what has become apparent over time is that the curriculum is infused with kindness, and clear examples of how kindness can be shown on a daily basis. It is that combination of a great academic curriculum with social-emotional learning and leading through example that we really believe is giving our son so very much at a time when a lot of children need that little extra something. When we first started thinking about enrolling at Shore, the number one concern we had as parents was, ‘How is our son going to handle the transition?’ But we realize now that Flynn is surrounded by kindness, and that gives us, and him, tremendous peace of mind.”

Kelly and Jadi Taveras describe a similar experience for their daughter. “Zuri feels safe at Shore. She understands that she has a Big Buddy and a bus buddy, that she’s part of Harbor House—all these little communities within her larger community. She’s so excited about all of the different ways that she feels connected to people when she walks through the halls. And when we talk to her teachers, they do a beautiful job of not only informing us how she’s progressing academically, but also letting us know how she’s doing from a social-emotional standpoint.”


Shore’s reputation for academic excellence is one reason many families consider the school, and for new parents, it’s one of the first things they notice about their child’s experience. 

Reenie Sanderson relates, “We have seen a love of learning grow for our son—so much so that there have been moments when he has caught us off guard. For example, after his second or third week at Shore, he started greeting us in Spanish in the morning—this from a child who had never spoken a word of Spanish before now. There have been numerous moments like that since then, and the new fervor he has for going to school every day is something that I think every parent only dreams of.”

According to Kelly Taveras, “What’s happening for Zuri in the classroom is unmatched. I can’t imagine a better program for her. I can see her mind connecting dots—she’s learning and growing that quickly. The program is so well designed, and it’s so appropriate for her. She’s still playing so much—she’s not head down, focusing on something all day long. That’s not what you should do when you’re five, and Shore knows that. I can’t imagine there being a more intentionally designed program for a five-year-old to move through, to learn about themselves and about the world and make connections with other kids.”

Barbara Pattullo observes simply, “Like every young child, Millie loves learning, but at Shore, you can tell that what she loves is being embraced for who she is and the way that she best receives information. And as a result, she just wants more school.”


Shore’s Board of Trustees approved the school’s Equity & Inclusion Commitment in the spring of 2020, and since then, a spirit of self-reflection and a willingness to change have permeated the school’s culture. Many new families pick up on this energy around the topic of equity and inclusion, and for some, it’s a deciding factor in choosing Shore.

Jadi Taveras, an equity and inclusion practitioner as well as the Head of School of Esperanza Academy in Lawrence, explains, “It’s easy to see who’s being genuine about the work around equity and inclusion. And with Shore, there’s a feeling of trust—trust that this is an honest community that’s trying to do the best they can to support students to be who they are. I think that’s what is clear from conversations we’ve had around the school: they are committed to this work. When you hear what’s happening at the Board level, see the way instruction is changing, and learn about the new administrative-level hire that will be dedicated to equity and inclusion—these are clear structural markers that Shore cares about this work, and they’re taking the right steps, the appropriate steps, to make sure that this is a community that continues to prioritize inclusion.”

Barbara Pattullo underscores, “Embracing change is a good thing. We chose Shore because we wanted to be challenged as a family. We wanted an environment where people are really giving her a diverse experience—from appreciating diverse learning styles to teaching her the importance of being around others who may not be from the same community that you are. As a family, we have to find ways to navigate the whole new world and the new experiences that we’re all taking part in.”


If there is one theme that all families speak to as they reflect on their first experiences at Shore, it is the joy they witness in their children as they begin their journey.

Reenie Sanderson states, “Since joining the fourth grade, we have seen nothing but positive developments in Flynn. So much so that it’s clear to us that each and every morning when he’s getting ready for school, it’s something that he’s looking forward to.”

“We couldn’t be more pleased with how Millie is doing,” attests Barbara Pattullo. “When my husband and I pick her up from school, we say to each other that we don’t know if we’ve ever seen Millie so happy.”

Kelly Taveras captures a sentiment common to many new families. “Zuri’s on fire when she comes home from school, even though the days are long for a kindergartner. She’s out of the house at seven, she’s part of the after school SEAShore program, and she does music lessons, as well.  And somehow she’s still so energized by it all. I think the people are a big part of that. I think that the cadence that Shore sets during the day is part of that. The focus on social and emotional experiences is part of that. All the fun things that are happening for her while she’s at school really make her days exciting.”

Ultimately, it is the interplay between the inclusive community, the social-emotional support for children, and the rigorous academics that makes the Shore experience so appealing for so many. As Jadi Taveras sums up, “What’s been really impressive is that these three things do not come at the cost of each other. To strike that balance in schools—and I’ve been involved in schools for many years—is hard to pull off. It’s been really impressive to me as an educator, and as a parent, it’s been really reassuring. We’re glad that we’re setting up roots here for our family.”

    • Kelly & Jadi Taveras

    • Barbara Pattullo

    • Reenie Sanderson

Shore Country Day School

545 Cabot Street, Beverly, MA 01915
(978) 927-1700
Shore Country Day School’s mission is to provide an education that inspires a love of learning and encourages children to embrace academic challenge. We seek to build character, cultivate creativity, and value diversity as we help our children become healthy, compassionate citizens of the world.
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