The First Link Committee of the Deerfield Parents Network (DPN) has put together this list of “pointers” and useful information that we hope you will find helpful as your child gets ready to leave for school.
If you have any questions or comments about the First Link program, please feel free to contact any one of the Co-Chairs: Meaghan Chorske, Leslee MacKenzie, Mary Read, and Vanessa Willett.
SOME HELPFUL POINTERS
- Main Switchboard/Academy Main Number: 413-772-0241
- Your Child’s Advisor and Dorm Resident numbers are located on DAinfo.
- Dean of Students: Sam Bicknell, 413-774-1485
- Dean of Residential Life,12th Grade Dean: Becca Melvoin, 413-774-1423
- 11th Grade Dean: Brian Barbato, 413-774-1681
- 10th Grade Dean: Drew Philie, 413-774-1543
- 9th Grade Dean: Heather Brown, 413-774-1459
- Assistant Head of School for Student Life: Amie Creagh, 413-774-1454
- Security (24-hours): 413-772-9880
- Health Center: 413-774-1600
- SoC (School Officer in Charge): 413-772-9070
Less is more in terms of what your child brings to school. Due to limited storage space, err on the side of bringing less than you think they need. Leave the winter clothes at home for now and bring them to school for Winter Term. Here is the suggested packing list, which does mention winter clothes, but you can always ship anything they need.
Label your child’s clothing to help prevent laundry mishaps and headaches with lost or borrowed clothing. We recommend something like the Name-Dropper Stamp, Mabels Labels, or even a laundry pen by Sharpie works well.
Laundry: You have the option to sign your child up for weekly laundry service with E&R Laundry or Swift Cleaners, or students can do laundry themselves in their dorms. Some students opt for a laundry service because the service will launder clothing as well as dry clean coats, ties, dress shirts, and blazers. Others prefer to launder their own belongings using the dorm facilities. For those doing their own laundry, a refillable laundry card is available through the Finance Office, and students may purchase laundry cards when they arrive on campus. It’s up to you, but worth discussing before they head off to school.
Discuss communication with your child before school starts. Set expectations with your child regarding how often (and in what mode) you’ll communicate. (And don’t make it too frequent—remember, they will be busy!) Sometimes a quick text exchange is more feasible than a conversation. Try to be content with the time they can give you as they have a full plate with classes, activities, and adjusting to a new environment.
Meet your child’s proctors and faculty dorm residents on their hall when you bring your student to campus. Faculty dorm residents will be valuable contacts since they live with your child.
Please hold off shipping to Deerfield until the second half of August. Shipping and Receiving is located in the “garden level” of the Chen Health and Wellness Center (aka the Health Center). Joe Garey and Danny Brooks help to make sure that all your packages reach your student. Amazon delivers anything and everything to Deerfield, and it gets there quickly. You can send boxes/packages the last two weeks of August, and Joe and Danny will hold them for your student.
How to Address Student Mail/Packages:
Postal Mail: Student Name, PO Box 298, Deerfield, MA 01342
UPS/FedEx: Student Name, 7 Boyden Lane, Deerfield, MA 01342
Don’t be surprised by how your child handles the “goodbye moment” when you’re ready to leave campus. Every child responds differently—some will be upset, others will barely say goodbye, and for some, it will be uneventful. Remember to give them space—boarding school is a stepping stone to independence and self-confidence for your child. They are in good hands and the dorm residents and proctors are well-equipped to help your child with the transition.
Understand that students are busy. Their schedules are packed with school, cocurriculars, sit-down meals, study hall, dorm feeds, and lights out. There is hardly a break, and when they have a free moment, they are forming relationships with new friends, doing homework, studying, getting involved with clubs, participating in school activities, attending mandatory meetings and lectures, etc. In addition, don’t forget that they are having fun, so be patient with them if they’re not as “accessible” as they were at home.
Explore the Academy’s website, and get to know the school better.
You should already be familiar with DAinfo, where you can see your child’s schedule, their teachers, their classmates, and the family directory to communicate with other parents. As was recently noted in the Families FYI , academic schedules will be available on August 17, and additional information, such as the name of your child’s advisor, soon thereafter. Remember, this is a password-protected site so make sure you remember your username and password. If your contact information ever changes (address, email, phone), please do not delay in having it updated on DAinfo by emailing Alumni Records and letting them know the new information.
Check out the Students Bulletin. While it is primarily for students, it can give you a sense of daily happenings on campus.
Read The Deerfield Scroll, the student paper which is published monthly. It also offers insights into what is happening on campus.
Consider creating a network of parents that live close by you for package deliveries or ride-sharing. We know a group of parents from one area that emails their “network” to see if anyone is headed up to Deerfield when they need something brought to their student or if they are looking for a ride-share or carpool. This is more efficient and less expensive than FedEx—and you’ll have the chance to make new friends as well!
“Let go” of your child as much as you can. Encourage them to solve problems on their own as much as they can and hold off on “picking up the phone” to solve it for them. Foster their independence. Encourage them to speak with their advisor for help or advice. You can also build a relationship with your child’s advisor, which could be very helpful.
Remember that the Deerfield faculty and staff are busy teaching, coaching, mentoring, and caring for your child. No place is perfect, and everyone is doing their best for your child. If things don’t go your child’s way, let them handle problems that come up, and encourage them to seek help from trusted adults at DA, if needed. And again, if necessary, go to your child’s advisor regarding any concerns you may need to discuss. Please be respectful and ask your child to do the same.
Finally, please rely on your fellow parent “First Link” to answer any questions you may have now or during the school year. They are current parents who remember what it was like to be new to Deerfield, and they are excited to help you in any way they can over the year. Your student also has their Green Key (a student mentor) to help them, and you have your First Link. Please use them!
We hope you feel welcomed and well-informed for the upcoming year at Deerfield Academy, and we are so happy and excited to have you join our community!
Warmly, Your First Link Co-Chairs:
Meaghan Chorske P’22,’25
Leslee MacKenzie P’21,’24
Mary Read P’24
Vanessa Willett P’23