The Nobles Community

Reflections from Chris Pratt ‘10
Nobles Math Faculty, Boys Soccer Coach and Admission Officer

I struggled at first to find my place here at Nobles. With so many talented students around me I wasn’t sure where I fit. At that time soccer was a large part of my identity and after being one of the last cuts from Varsity tryouts I was feeling lost, but then something great happened to me; I was placed in Chris Burr’s English class. Everyday stepping into that classroom, I didn’t feel the need to question where I belonged because in those fifty minutes I knew exactly where I wanted to be. Mr. Burr was able to create a community in his classroom. It was a place where I knew I belonged and felt safe to express my thoughts. He made it a point to take an interest in each of his student’s lives. He had a desire to know everything he could about us and a passion to push his students to get to know themselves better. This desire wasn’t just reserved for his classroom either. In the hallways he would go out of his way to stop and have a conversation with me. He would attend my JV soccer games and recap the games the next day with me. And while these gestures seem small and he might have not realized it at the time they had a profound impact on my experience here at Nobles. It was in those moments that I knew I would always have someone supporting me. This is why I chose Nobles. Over the next four years the relationships I would foster with my teachers, like those I had with Nick Nickerson in AB Calculus and Steve Ginsberg on the soccer field, would come to define the greatest and most rewarding part of my Nobles experience.

As I enter my second year as a faculty member at Nobles I think back on those first couple days and weeks and can’t help but smile. Smile because I realize now those fears were shared, in some capacity, with every other student around me. And smile because I know those experiences I had in the few weeks will become a microcosm for all of the incredible things that I love about this place.

You may think they stop being your teachers after you graduate but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your connection to this place and with the teachers that have helped guide you through the formative years of your life only continue to grow stronger. Making the decision to come to Nobles means inheriting a community as well as mentors for the rest of your life.

Chris Pratt ’10 in the classroom

Noble and Greenough School

Noble and Greenough School

Coeducation and the Nobles Mission

At Noble and Greenough School, our excitement about learning and our commitment to students translate to extraordinary intellectual and personal growth in young people. Academics at Nobles are challenging—yet our community balances high expectations with joy in the classroom, on the playing fields and on stage. Always, the Nobles experience is anchored in authentic relationships between students and faculty. From college counselors to coaches to academic advisors and others, students are surrounded by adults who know them well—and care about their health and success. Nobles also believes deeply in service and in community, broadly defined. EXCEL, our experiential learning program, is one avenue through which we support our mission to inspire leadership for the public good.

Our diverse, coeducational community is also central to our mission. At Nobles, students learn to collaborate confidently and effectively with students of different genders, backgrounds and identities. Our curriculum and programs demand that students engage in open discourse, consider disparate viewpoints, articulate their views respectfully and grapple with challenging topics of our rapidly evolving world. Our school community provides students with the academic and interpersonal skills to to make a positive impact on local and global communities after graduation. We believe that optimal learning occurs when school life mirrors the complexity of our society. We believe that learning to recognize different learning and communications styles and strengthsand negotiate and value those differencesis crucial to becoming a leader.

Here are some thoughts from our seniors on why coeducation is a critical part of the Nobles experience:

“Our life after school is gender diverse. In life and in jobs, we will work with different genders. It is crucial that we develop this skill as part of our school education.” Hillary Umphrey ’17

“It goes without saying that girls and boys can grow up differently and with different experiences, and I think a coed school brings all of these experiences together and really allows everyone to learn from one another and gain new perspectives.” Gabby McCarthy ’17

“Coeducation brings together different perspectives and adds another level of diversity to the student body. This is important for learning because students benefit from a diversity of ideas – in and out of the classroom.” Ian Harris ’17

“Diversity in the classroom is a key part of understanding people of different backgrounds. Without coeducation, we prevent ourselves from understanding the world through a lens other than our own.” Maura McLaughlin ’17

“The world is diverse, and so many of society’s successes come from men and women working together.” Amelia Patterson ’17

“I think that coeducation is important because girls (or boys if you are a girl) provide a new perspective on both the world and our school community.” Matt Abate ’17

“I think that, especially at this age, boys and girls often look at things differently. I’ve learned a lot by listening to boys’ perspectives in class. I also think that is helps us to develop socially too. Growing up with guys and having close guy friends has been such an important part of my life.” Helena Jensen ’17

“I definitely think that, in some ways, most guys and girls are wired differently. Having these different types of thinkers absolutely fosters a more diverse and ultimately more productive learning environment.” Max Keating ’17

This Nobles Life – Nobleman podcast

Check out this message from the editors of our school newspaper, The Nobleman, and listen to the first episode of This Nobles Life:

“In the debut episode of This Nobles Life, the Nobleman podcast, William Wang (class I) shares his heartwarming story of coming to America from Taiwan, and his first day of school in a foreign country, reminding us to always be generous to each other.”

This Nobles Life

Happy Birthday, Nobles!

Throughout this school year and into next fall, members of the Nobles community will take part in events to mark the school’s sesquicentennial or 150th birthday.

Here are a few of the events planned for the sesquicentennial:

The school’s Senior Writer, Joyce Eldridge, is writing a school history that will be published this spring. The new book will also include Richard T. Flood’s “The Story of Noble and Greenough School”, which was written in 1966 on the occasion of the school’s centennial.

Archivist Isa Schaff, is working on campus displays to showcase the school’s history.

Music Director Michael Turner and Nobles graduate Sam Forman ’95 have written a new school song to be unveiled this year and performed by students.

A special sesquicentennial art show is in the works for Foster Gallery, under the leadership of John Dorsey.

Athletic Director Alex Gallagher is also planning ways to showcase the school’s 150th birthday on the athletic fields and on uniforms worn by our student-athletes.

In the spring, the class of 2016, the 150th class of Noble and Greenough School, will graduate.

In September 2016, we will celebrate Founder’s Day to mark the 150th anniversary of the school’s opening in Boston in 1866.

These are just a few of the sesquicentennial plans, but we hope that you will agree that this is going to be an exciting year to visit Nobles! We look forward to seeing you.

Getting the most out of an Open House

On Saturday, October 17th, Nobles will host its annual fall Open House. We hope to see you there!

Although the event will be more of an Open Schoolhouse, we invite you to think of the event in the same way that you might approach an actual Open House. For example:

  • Feel free to stop by. You don’t have to register, and you don’t have to stay for the three hours if you have other things to do that day. The lights will be on, the atmosphere will be welcoming and we will be ready and eager to greet you and show you around our place.
  • See inside. At the Open House, you can learn a lot about Nobles by listening to student and faculty panelists discuss everything from the travel program to multicultural programs, athletics, the arts and the admission process, among others. You can see the campus on a student-led tour. You can enjoy a Q&A with our Head of School, Bob Henderson. Come in and examine Nobles in more depth.
  • Feel the vibe. Sometimes homebuyers will talk about walking into a house or apartment and just knowing that it is “the one.” You just get a feeling. Our hope is that you will leave our Open House with a better understanding of our physical plant but also with a clear sense of our culture and ethos.
  • Keep it real. Remember, the Open House takes place on a Saturday. Many of our own students will be around, but it won’t be a typical school day. So while we know that you will leave the Open House feeling fully informed about Nobles, we also want you to know that a normal school day here feels quite different. Open houses are a lot of fun because there are a lot of people around but again, remember that most days are significantly quieter around here.
  • Voice your opinion. As you leave the Open House, we would love to hear your feedback via a brief survey. As always, feel free to contact us anytime with questions.

Thanks for your interest in Nobles. We hope to see you in October!

Advice From Nobles Students

Congratulations to our newly admitted students! We recently asked first year Nobles students to reflect on their time here so far and to provide some advice for you about life at Nobles. Here are some of the major themes that they touched upon in their responses: 

Forge Friendships

“Coming from a big public school, people with different interests rarely supported each other in their different passions. I would encourage new students to embrace that at Nobles, everyone in their grade will be just as enthusiastic about the upcoming play as they are the for the athletic event that day. As an athlete, I definitely began to feel closer with my grade and more comfortable as I started doing the little things such as wishing the people auditioning for the play ‘good luck,’ even though theatre has never been something I was involved in.” – Class III student

“My biggest fear was that I would be joining a class of already close students in the upper school and no one would make an effort to be friends with me. Although it is true that there are already groups of close-knit students, everyone is very welcoming and no one is going to ice you out because you are new.” – Class IV student

 “At my old school people sat with the same people every day, so the fact that so many different groups of people have lunch is another thing I wish I had embraced earlier. I was surprised to see people in different grades or with different outside of school interests sitting together, but after I realized what a nice thing this was it became clear to me that lunch could be a time to bring the whole school together and learn new things about different people. Overall, I would encourage new students to really ‘dive into’ the supportive atmosphere Nobles creates and make relationships with a wide array of people around the school in order to ease the transition.”  – Class III student

 Relish the Challenge

“The biggest advice I can give to new Class IV students is to challenge yourself, whether it’s on the sports field, on stage, in the classroom, or even in the alcoves. Nobles is rigorous for a reason, and the hard work the teachers and coaches will give you or push you to do is all to see you challenge yourself and thrive. You’ll never know what you’re capable of unless you believe in yourself, take on new challenges, and overcome obstacles you may have been scared to try before. The faculty and all of the students at Nobles are supportive of everyone’s decisions, and they really want to see people rise to the occasion when they are challenged. Whether it’s taking an Honors class, getting to know an upperclassmen, or going out for the varsity team you didn’t think you could make, every challenge you take on will help define you and help you grow. Nobles is super intense and difficult at times, but the rewards you get are worth all of the hard work.” – Class IV student

Embrace Relationships

 “Get to know your teachers. With the smaller classes, you can become friendly with them and get to know them better than I did when I was a student in public schools.” – Class VI student

“My advice for incoming students would be to take advantage of the opportunities available, but also to always keep their primary focus on their academics. The hardest thing will be adjusting but using your teachers and peers as much as you can throughout the year will help a lot. “ – Class IV student

“My advice would be to seek help immediately with any problems you have in class. Always go to your teacher or advisor if you need help.”  – Class IV student

Have Fun and Be Brave

“High school should be fun. It’s important to work hard but also to enjoy yourself. Make time for friends.” – Class III student

“Join clubs right away! I regret that I didn’t take full advantage of x-block when I first got here.” – Class IV student

“Don’t ever miss assembly or Friday Night Lights (when our football team plays under the lights).” – Class IV student

“Go on Nobles trips, including outing club excursions.” – Class IV student

“Get out to events! Games are where school spirit is on display. It is so fun to cheer for our school and show our pride. Plus your friends really appreciate the support.” – Class IV student

“Share your talents. Don’t be afraid or hold back. Get up on the stage in assembly and show us what you’ve got!” – Class IV student

“Try new sports. I tried crew for the first time. It was so fun and I met a whole new group of friends.” – Class IV student

“Go to preseason in sports even if you aren’t varsity caliber. I had never held a field hockey stick in my life but I went to pre-season. I was really nervous but I learned a ton and met so many people.” – Class IV student


Your Fall To-Do List for the School Search

We thought this might be a good time to check in with all of our prospective students and families regarding the secondary school search and what you should be thinking as the fall progresses.

At this point, you are probably still in the information collecting phase. You should be attending school fairs and/or open houses, asking for printed materials and perusing brochures and websites in an effort to finalize your school list (i.e.: schools to which you will apply).

Once you have your list, it is important to schedule your visits. For Nobles, all visits are scheduled online. Once you submit your inquiry via our website, you will receive an email from us with a link to a scheduling page. Applicants to our Upper School (grades 9-11) will schedule a tour and an interview. Applicants to our Middle School (grades 7 and 8) will schedule a tour and a Group Activity session. Some of our dates are already booked, so you will want to get  moving with the scheduling piece soon if you haven’t started already.

Here are a few others things that you should be thinking about at this point:

  1. Register for the standardized test. Upper School applicants should take the SSAT ( while Middle School applicants should take the ISEE (
  2. Look over your applications. Start to familiarize yourself with essay and short answer questions.
  3. Ask your teachers for recommendations. You are required to submit recommendations from your school (guidance or placement counselor) and from your current math and English teachers. It’s a good idea to ask your teachers now if they would be willing to submit a recommendation on your behalf.

As always, we are here to answer your questions, so feel free to reach out to us anytime (

The importance of “fit”; when the Brannock Device isn’t an option

Unlike shoes, for which you can fairly easily determine your size using the under-appreciated Brannock Device, admission “fit” is nebulous. Shoes either fit or they don’t fit, whereas admission fit can be more difficult to determine and even more difficult to define. When reviewing an application to Nobles, we ask ourselves: Will this student be a good fit for Nobles and is Nobles a good fit for this student? Here are a few thoughts on our process of measuring fit:

First and foremost, we ask ourselves if an applicant will be able to thrive academically at Nobles. We look at grades, teacher comments and standardized test scores to try to determine if the student will be able to do the academic work at Nobles while balancing other interests and having time to be a kid. Nobles is challenging, and even the very best students will have times when they have to buckle down and focus on their coursework. But we look for students who can handle the workload without having to sacrifice the other things that make them who they are.

Once we have determined that a student is likely to be successful here academically, we then look to see what other interests or talents the student will bring to our community. Most students here are involved in many different activities and participate at a high level across the board. Some students are stand outs in one academic or extracurricular area. We are definitely looking for students who will come here and do something or a lot of different things in depth. Ours is a vibrant, busy, productive community, and we look for those who want to participate fully in that community.

We care about personal qualities. This doesn’t mean that there is a “typical” Nobles student. At Nobles, there are students who are outgoing, shy, loud, quiet, serious and silly, just to name a few. In general, it is safe to say that we seek kind, thoughtful people who are curious, motivated and happy working with other students and faculty members. The importance that we place on personal qualities is reflected in our mission statement, which includes words like leadership, creativity, character, citizenship, independence, self-respect, humility, humor, collaboration, honesty and respect for others. Although it is impossible to learn everything about a person from an application, we are able to learn a lot from essays, teacher recommendations and an interview or group session here on campus.

Although we are talking about our experience during the admission process at Nobles, we believe this information will be helpful to you if you are a student or a parent trying to decide if Nobles or another independent school might be a good fit for you.