Volume 20, Number 47 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | April 6 - April 12, 2011
New owners take Claremont Prep in new direction
BY John Bayles
On Monday the parents and teachers of Claremont Preparatory School in Lower Manhattan received phone calls and letters that very well could have been cause for alarm. They were informed their school was changing hands.
Met Schools Inc. will no longer run the school, which was founded in 2005 and enrolls more than 500 students. Instead, Claremont will now become part of the Meritas Family of Schools, an international network of over 11,500 students enrolled in schools in Europe, Asia, Latin America and North America. Meritas is a for-profit, private-equity- backed firm owned by Sterling Partners.
“After thoughtful consideration, we have found a great successor to carry on the work we’ve done here at Claremont,” said Michael Koffler, chairman and CEO of Met Schools Inc., in a statement. “Over recent years, Claremont Preparatory School has developed into an institution with a personalized approach to education, and Meritas has the experience to continue to move the school in this direction.”
Mac Gamse, CEO of Meritas, agreed with Koffler.
“Claremont is a great school for the Meritas family,” said Gamse. “It’s a school we think we can help very quickly mature into a top school in Manhattan.”
The Meritas philosophy, according to Gamse, is based on three core principles: a personalized approach to ensure student growth, a supportive environment for teachers and unique international experiences for the students.
One example of the unique international experiences available to students is a Meritas initiative called the Touchpoints Program.
“It’s a program that explores world problems happening within our everyday classroom environments,” said Gamse.
For instance, a second grade student in a Meritas School located in Florida would be simultaneously learning about water supply problems not only in their own country but in Monterey, Mexico as well. They would share information with their peers attending second grade at the Meritas School in Monterey.
Gamse pointed out that the international learning model is not new or exceptionally unique. He did however state that what makes the Meritas Family of Schools different from other similar institutions is the fact that its international family is already in place and has over 300 years of experience in global education.
“This family exists today and we have spent many years putting together the opportunities for teachers, parents, and students to become a part of an international family,” said Gamse.
Teachers and parents have no need to worry over the looming transition according to current Claremont Prep Interim Headmaster Ken Wrye.
“My role [during the transition] has been as a facilitator to help the process,” said Wrye. “I’m helping with the communication and working with the different parties.”
Since the news broke, Wrye and various Meritas officials have been holding forums for teachers and parents alike.
“All of those meetings have gone very well. Most of the questions revolved around who is Meritas and how does this effect my child’s education,” said Wrye.
“Of course we expect questions,” echoed Gamse. “The decision of where to send your child to school is a critical one in any family’s life.”
Gamse said his staff will be holding regular office hours in the coming months and that they are preparing to work closely with the parents who have children at Claremont now and who have applied to enroll their children for the coming school year.
Wrye said there would be no teacher layoffs as a result of the announcement. He said what is happening now is what normally happens at this time of year.
“We are making all of the salary decisions and staffing decisions. Meritas is not [currently] involved in that process,” said Wrye.