Scott Levenson shares his journey on becoming a father, alongside his position as Managing Partner at Private Prep, and how his paternal role enhances his ability to best support students and families in navigating the academic process and learning to thrive throughout life’s adventures.
In 2008 when I joined Founder Steve Feldman to help build Private Prep, I was a recent transplant to New York and a newcomer to the education industry. It didn’t take long to see that there was something special in the caring and personal way Steve approached working with his students.
Having grown up in a similar education-oriented environment and been the recipient of tutoring myself as a student, I understood the way many Private Prep families viewed our services. Immediately, I enjoyed connecting with both students and parents, seeking to give students agency. Drawing from my own experience as a high schooler, I realized that the most meaningful learning came as a result of the opportunity to direct my own education. Notably, my decision to change high schools as I was entering junior year, seeking a private school environment with smaller class sizes, was a turning point that gave me confidence to truly realize my potential as a student.
For parents, I wanted to be a sounding board and source of expertise when it came to their family’s education decisions. I knew that parents sometimes feel like they are on island, surrounded by an ocean of questions, fears, and uncertainty. Seeking guidance from school staff can be intimidating; friends may share similar experiences, but often lack the full breadth of knowledge required to provide appropriate guidance. Parents have good intention – they just want to do what is best for their children. Yet, learning is a complex human process, and it is frequently unclear what “the best” really is for each child.
In my eight years at Private Prep, little has changed when it comes to what I believe about students and their desire to have an internal locus of control over their own learning. When it comes to parents, I now realize that I only empathized with their psyche from a cognitive perspective. That all began to change on July 11, 2009 when my wife and I welcomed our oldest son, Blake, into our lives. Today, Blake is an eager first grader and the older brother of a 3-year old sister, Sasha, and a 9-month old brother, Owen.
Now as the father of three, I have a much deeper appreciation for the emotional side of being a parent. I can relate to the challenge of searching for a balance between intervening to put children in a position to succeed and letting children make their own independent mistakes. I’ve experienced that parental struggle with young children and imagine I still have a lot to learn in supporting our children face an increasingly complicated world, as they enter middle and high school and then head off to college.
Six-years into my new normal, I look at the work we do at Private Prep differently than when I first started. I view it through the lens of a loving father and with an emotional connection that I could not have fully understood until I lived it. I am excited to continue learning more as a parent and apply those personal experiences to my growth as an education professional. I’m grateful to have a broadening perspective that allows me to be better equipped to help guide the direction of our organization.