Testimonials — See what our students and their parents say about our courses.

What about NFS has not influenced my college experience? Where would I even be without NFS? Surely, I never would have learnt to think very well. Any inherent artistic talent would have been wasted on simplistic themes and ideas. I would not read to expand myself, but merely to distract myself. North Fork — I say this with perfect honestly — created me as a thinker. It created the structure by which I LEARN. And learning is the most important thing an individual can do. Being at North Fork allowed me to discover how to learn, why to learn, and to love it.

Perhaps more tangibly, North Fork is the reason I have taken classes that have really expanded my perspective on the world. It taught me that I should strive to excel in the most difficult classes, because that is where I will learn the most. The measurable outcome of that on my career — if we deem careers important — is quite clear.

More tangibly, even, I learned how to write and to speak. It is astonishing how few people in college can write properly. Thoughts do not cohere, words are spelled or used incorrectly, and a mere two pages of double-spaced text seems an insurmountable feat. The vocabulary, usage, technical ability, and thought-generation skills hammered into my head at North Fork will never leave. I will always be able to express myself coherently and with less-than-average effort; if ever I am writing eleven NIH grants (as is the head of the lab I work in) these skills will prove vital. In fact, on Friday I submitted a grant proposal of my own; despite never yet having set foot in a lab, my PI declared it to be one of the best undergraduate proposals he has seen. And before North Fork, I could not express myself verbally very well; I talked a lot, but this is not the same as speaking well. At North Fork I learned to develop ideas in my head while speaking and, then, vocalize them in a coherent and convincing manner. As an engineer in a rapidly developing field I will constantly need to convince others that my ideas are sound.

Is there any way NFS has not affected my college experience? I think, perhaps, that the “college experience” is a false presupposition. Life is but an accumulation of moments, isolated from both past and future. But what I learned at North Fork is now so fundamental to my mind that it influences EVERY decision I make in EVERY moment.

Unlike many educational institutions, North Fork does not teach structures or patterns. As T.S. Eliot describes, “There is. . . limited value/ In the knowledge derived from experience./ The knowledge imposes pattern, and falsifies,/ For the pattern is new in every moment,/ and every moment is a new and shocking/ Valuation of all we have been.” Instead of imposing structures, the NFS curriculum teaches students to constantly make connections and realize, in every moment, a valuation of the universe.
— Gerrit Egnew, class of 2012
During my first semester as a freshman at the University of San Francisco, I was enrolled in an Honors English class reserved for incoming students who had in high school received a “4” or “5” (the highest grades) on their AP English exams. The class focused on exploring ways in which modern technology either has or has not improved how people today learn and gain knowledge.

For our first major assignment, I wrote an essay defending the reading of historical texts. For the class following the turn-in date of this assignment, my professor had run photocopies of my essay for my classmates to read as an example of the kind and quality of writing he was looking for. I received an “A” on the assignment, and very quickly became the go-to editor and proofreader of my peers’ papers.

In reading their essays, I often found basic grammar and syntax-related errors, errors that I had learned to avoid because of the intensive editing process emphasized in my NFS classes. I definitely credit my strong writing and academic success in large part to my education at the North Fork School.
— Kirsten Wiking, class of 2009


I just had an assignment [at BSU] to analyze a poem in Spanish and I was so thankful for your [English] classes — that has been a common theme this year.

When Madison Lowe, now a college freshman, entered McCall-Donnelly High School, she found “only a few difficult classes. After sophomore year,” Madi says, “despite that I might no longer be at the top of my class, I enrolled in the private North Fork School, and fretted all summer about the workload.”

”The first day, the short walk from my car into NFS took forever. My heart was pounding, my palms were sweaty, my knees were wobbly. Terrified that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, nor be capable enough to complete quality work, I had enrolled in English because it was my easiest subject. I joined a group of NFS peers who had attended for years, and the first day of class was a shock.”

”In the first ninety minutes, I heard more information than in a week of regular class. I was completely overwhelmed. The style of teaching was completely different, but I quickly became accustomed to the increased workload and expectations. I was soon working harder than I ever had in my school career.”

”The risk of enrolling in the North Fork School was one of the most important decisions I have ever made. For the first time, I was truly challenged. Every day I went to class knowing that it would be difficult, but also knowing it was worth the effort.
— Madison Lowe, MDHS salutatorian 2013
I want to tell you how much I have appreciated your teaching and benefited from your instruction at the North Fork School. In one year, you taught me how to write persuasivelly, read analytically, and edit endlessly. I learned that writing well isn’t necessarily an innate skill — it takes lots of hard work. But in your class, I never dreaded the heavy work load or intensive class sessions. Each time we met, I became engrossed in the material or discussion. This is what learning should be all about.

After taking English at the North Fork School my sophomore year, I went back to the high school to take College Writing, Journalism, and Advanced Placement English, a college-level course. In each of these three classes, I used information I learned from you at the North Fork School. I received a 95% on my AP English final, which was two essays (one I got a 100% on). I am just proud of that, and owe some of the credit to you. At the end of the year, I was selected to be co-salutatorian with Sean Gould, and we wrote our speech together.

I also used my writing knowledge when applying for college. From college essays to scholarship essays, I felt comfortable writing about myself. I truly feel my North Fork School experience played a large role in my acceptance to all four colleges to which I applied.

Thank you for showing me what passion is.
— Laura Bechdel, class of 2001
I just wanted to thank you again for the years at North Fork. As I finish up my last essays and assignments before [college] graduation next month, the writing skills that I acquired (sometimes so agonizingly) through thousands of line edits and hundreds of drafts during (8?) years at North Fork continue to deliver.

Yesterday I got a graded essay back from one of the [Syracuse] journalism school’s most respected professors — a former dean who, among other things, sometimes serves on the Pulitzer Prize jury. He attached a one-page written response to my paper, and one of the notes was: “You must have had some excellent writing teachers along the way.” He said mine was the best paper he received from the class of 90 students (all seniors in the journalism school). I am also getting A’s on my essays for a 700-level anthropology seminar, and last weekend I presented a paper at a graduate history conference at Rutgers.

My professor’s remark about excellent writing teachers along the way reminded me of you, of course, since you are one of the only writing teachers I have had along the way and certainly the most important. I don’t hesitate to credit my love of writing and my ability to write well to you and to my overall experience at North Fork.

[On applying to graduate schools in anthropology]: Who could have guessed that I would feel free and inspired by the prospect of a life in academia? Though the problem was never learning, it was (and is) sitting through classes being bored to the point of physical pain and being made to do senseless, tedious tasks. North Fork was my only indication that education doesn’t have to be absolute misery. Now almost all my classes are like North Fork, and I expect graduate school to be even better. A dream!
— Kathryn Pope, class of 2009
“I just wanted to express how thankful I am for North Fork and your incredible teaching. I am currently working for a start-up online company in the East Bay and thriving in this business environment because of my solid writing skills. The Community Manager has me edit everyone’s blog post, even my boss’s.

We also went through an intense two week period of renaming the company and developing our core messaging. Thanks to all of our poetry and essay analysis, I felt extremely comfortable discussing positive and negative connotations associated with words and phrases, while providing crucial input and revision advice. I’m pretty shocked at how little editing skills people possess and feel beyond blessed that North Fork engrained, maybe even pounded, quality editing techniques into my consciousness. Even though my sophomore year in High School I wanted to torch my Word Smart, I now have the clarity to look back and foster deep appreciation for all of our classes together.
— Katie McDaniel, class of 2009
It is uncommon for me to write letters of appreciation to my children’s respective schools. However, I was so impressed and genuinely excited by the writing Katie produced last quarter at the North Fork School, even I was inspired to write.

The maturity of her poems and narratives surprised me. While pealing back the layers of revisions she had compiled, I discovered your creative and constructive critiques that encouraged Katie to clarify and refine her piece. Although you gave suggestions and helpful comments, the writing was clearly Katie’s own.

When I commented on the process, Katie responded that the students also assist in and critique each other’s work. She obviously enjoys and appreciates the process, and I am grateful for the strong foundation it provides for a lifetime of reading and writing.

I am always proud of Katie and her work, but this time I am hungry for more. Thank you.
— Margi McDaniel, mother of Katie '09
At North Fork, I was given the support and respect to figure out what was important to me, not just to do what the teachers wanted. I get a huge sense of satisfaction at the end of the year at North Fork, from watching myself improve: it is fascinating.

I have never had such a close relationship with a teacher. All my NFS teachers give time to me personally; that encourages me to work hard not only for myself, but also to gain their respect. I have become a more complete person at NFS: self-motivated, but with a solid support system under my feet.

I look forward to showing up to class. Being a good writer helped immensely with my MDHS speech class. Most teachers will bend over backward to help a student succeed, but Marie and Brigid know when not to bend.
— Bennet Roper, MDHS valedictorian 2013
Last night I was packing up my room and found my old North Fork binders, so I decided to go through them and take out the pieces that were meaningful to me. I had so much fun going through all of the poems, short stories, and essays. My mom was working downstairs as I was looking through everything, and I kept interrupting her to read her the pieces I was finding. On top of that, I got my final grades back [from WWU] for the past quarter and I am proud to say that I finished the quarter with a 4.0. This is especially exciting because I am finally in all education classes; the more I learn the more beneficial it will be to my future career.

I guess what I am saying is that it has been especially apparent these last couple of days how beneficial North Fork was to my education. I feel like North Fork went much further past merely educating me. Through North Fork I acquired a set of skills that have not only helped me to become a better student, but have helped me to become a more motivated, organized, and confident person.

I was accepted into Woodring College of Education as of spring quarter last year and have fallen in love with the early childhood special education program. For the past year I have worked at the Child Development Center on campus in the two year-old classroom and simply love it. I love going to work and being greeted by 12 little ones say “Ms. Kesley, Ms. Kesley!”and rushing to give me a hug. I have reached a point where I am so satisfied with life and I honestly can say that North Fork has been a huge asset towards my getting to this point.
— Kelsey Mack, class of 2009