At the prestigious Morristown Beard School (MBS) in Morristown, academic excellence is a huge focus for its 6th through 12th-grade students, but that’s only part of its mission. A place of possibilities, MBS strives to give students a sense of community and belonging with an emphasis on balance between academic goals and personal achievement.
Tahj Valentine, a 2018 graduate of MBS who grew up in Morristown, is now the Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) at the school. He has had the unique opportunity of experiencing all that MBS has to offer from both sides of the desk.
As an elementary school student, Tahj would often accompany his brother to campus for football and basketball practice. From the very beginning, he was always made to feel a part of the school community. “I didn't know it, but I was already being brought into the family.” (His father also attended MBS). As a faculty member since this past fall, he now has a chance to foster this feeling of belonging in others.
Senior Skylar Reale appreciates this welcoming culture. “Coming into the school [as a freshman], I was shy, but all the kids here, no matter what grade, were very welcoming,” she says.
An athlete, Skylar also enjoys the sports opportunities offered by the private school, which also facilitates friendships. “When I started field hockey, all the new kids came together, and the upperclassmen made sure they introduced themselves to us no matter if we were on varsity or junior varsity,” she says.
Skylar also plays basketball and lacrosse, and was already an elite gymnast prior to enrollment. Being able to participate in different sports at MBS helped her discover that she loved playing team sports as well.
“MBS encourages students to try new things and not be afraid to fail. The school believes this is true learning, builds character, and helps them develop skills for life,” says Head of School, Liz Morrison. “Students succeed because they are supported – there is always someone beside them on their journey who will give them the guidance and encouragement they need to succeed.”
Something else Skylar loves is the availability of interesting and unique elective classes. “I don't know if Glass Design is offered anywhere else,” she says. “I've taken it for two years in our Center for Innovation & Design and this is going to be my third year. When the projects are done, they're just so pretty to have at home.”
This year, she’s also taking a class in criminology. “I just love this topic and learning all the details about it,” says Skylar. “Having these types of classes, just like sports, is going to help me in my future.”
Having a good balance is very important at MBS. “It has been at the heart of our philosophy for decades,” says Liz. “Alumni still credit the school for allowing them the time and support to find and pursue their individual passions — to try new things in addition to focusing on academics.”
When Tahj started at Morristown Beard School as a freshman, he had a free period and the ability to go outside and walk around the School’s 22-acre campus. “It teaches you how to manage your free time,” he says. “You have that freedom of being able to either socialize with your friends or the ability to go see teachers for extra help or collaborate with classmates on a group project—just like college.
"When I first got to MBS, I probably didn’t manage my free time so well, but come sophomore year, that's when I started to understand the importance of time management and how you have to balance things in life.”
This free time also allows students who need help with study skills to take advantage of the Center for Teacher & Learning. “It’s a quiet place to go with knowledgeable teachers where you can have a one-on-one conversation,” says Skylar. “The support is great and I like that we get to really know each other.”
She adds, “I love MBS because it helped me break out of my shell, become social, and try new things.
To learn more about Morristown Beard School and how it can help your children succeed, go to mbs.net.