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SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Board of Trustees of Saratoga Independent School (S.I.S.) has named Robert C. Ahrens, Jr. as its new Head of School beginning July 1, 2021.

Robert “Bob” Ahrens has worked in independent schools for more than 25 years. For the past 7 years, Ahrens has served as the Assistant Head of School for Academics & Director of Upper School at Andrews Osborne Academy, a co-educational boarding school in Willoughby, OH. Over his vast career, he has worn many hats and served in numerous roles, beginning as a Middle School math teacher and Dean of Students before moving into administrative leadership positions. In addition, he has served as a member of six school accreditation teams as well as serving as a presenter at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) National Conference. 

Julie S. Fuller, President of the Board of Trustees, stated, “As Saratoga Independent School approaches its 30th Anniversary this September, we will not only be honoring the school’s past by commemorating our thirty-year history, but we will also be embracing its future. With Mr. Ahrens’ consummate vision, leadership, and extensive experience, we will be looking to our Strategic Plan to continue our unprecedented growth, academic success, and financial sustainability as a fully enrolled PreK through 8th grade, accredited institution.”

Ahrens earned a B.S. from Ohio State University and an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Villanova University. Ahrens was a recipient of the National Association of Independent Schools’ E.E. Ford Fellowship for Aspiring School Heads, a yearlong program of leadership development for emerging independent school leaders.

Current head of school, Lisa Brown, announced her retirement to the Saratoga Independent School community in January.  Under her four years of leadership, the school completed a successful $1.7 million capital campaign, launched a new middle school serving grades six, seven and eight, and completed the construction of a new academic wing.

Virtual and private tours are always available for prospective families. Families interested in scheduling a private or virtual tour may visit www.siskids.org/admissions/campus-tour or contact Colleen Fortune, Admissions Liaison, at 518-583-0841 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Education

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Independent School (S.I.S.) has worked diligently since the spring preparing for the 2020/2021 school year. The school’s top priority is the health and safety of every member of the school community. Equally important is maintaining the quality of education and sense of community that S.I.S. provides, whether in-person or remotely. 

The school’s administration, faculty, staff, and board members have developed a school-wide in-person learning plan and remote/hybrid learning plan. The in-person plan includes new health and safety measures, policies, and procedures, including new outdoor classroom spaces, reconfigured indoor classrooms to allow for proper social distancing, plexiglass table dividers, daily temperature checks and health screenings for all staff and students, and much more. The remote learning plan includes daily learning schedules, student engagement goals, and plans to address the emotional health of each student. 

To help communicate the new plan to the school’s families, S.I.S. has hosted several tours for families and students to visit the school to learn about the new measures that are in place, and have questions answered. 

Head of School, Lisa Brown, stated, “it has been wonderful to see so many families come through for our tours. Our goal has been to provide as much information and reassurance to our families as possible during this unsettled time. We are lucky to have such a strong school community and are excited to welcome our students back in the fall, and we will continue to involve students in our curriculum in person or remotely, and will carry on S.I.S.’s values of leadership, respect, creativity, active engagement, and meaningful learning.” 

Jayne Kirber and Geoffrey Hill, MD, parents of S.I.S. intermediate and fifth  grade students, said “after visiting SIS today and talking with Brown, we are feeling safe and ready to send our kids back to school. The small class sizes, large class spaces, ample outdoor space, and general creativity and flexibility of the faculty and staff make S.I.S. particularly suited to keeping kids both safe and engaged this fall. We can tell that the administration is prepared to adapt quickly, as state and local guidelines will undoubtedly change throughout the year. S.I.S. is staying well-informed, adaptable, and positive, and we know that this will help our kids stay adaptable and positive throughout the school year.” 

After work by faculty, administration and the Board over the past year, SIS has a new mission statement. Brown said, “the new mission statement incorporates much of the language of our original mission, while reflecting a stronger sense of the spirit of the school and its commitment to the values of diversity and inclusion.” 

The new mission of Saratoga Independent School is to empower students to be curious and confident learners, capable of critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and articulate expression. As an inclusive, nurturing community that values diversity and mutual respect, we strive to cultivate in our students the knowledge, skills, work ethic, and character to lead purposeful, healthy lives. 

The full reopening plans for in-person and remote learning for S.I.S. can be found on their website at www.siskids.org/about/covid.cfm. 

Published in Education

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Independent School (S.I.S.) welcomes their first Eighth Grade class this fall. 

This marks the last phase in the school’s plan to add a Middle School, taking S.I.S. from Pre-Kindergarten through Eighth Grade.  The first group of Middle Schoolers started Sixth Grade at S.I.S. in the Fall of 2018 and they are thrilled to be the first graduating class this coming Spring. 

Head of School, Lisa Brown said: “this is a remarkable time for S.I.S. Since the school's founding almost thirty years ago, visionary parents have imagined carrying S.I.S.'s values of leadership, respect, creativity, active engagement, and meaningful learning through the Middle School years.”

The Middle School expansion was part of the schools $1.7 million Capital Campaign, which concluded in October 2019. 

“Many members of the S.I.S. community - parents, trustees, faculty, students – were joined by extraordinarily committed donors to bring the Middle School at Saratoga Independent School to life in 2018. Special thanks go to our Capital Campaign leaders, Catherine LoMonico and Steve Greenblatt, and Julie and Marcus Fuller,” Brown said.

Brown notes the contribution of Jeny Randall, Middle School Director, whose talent and spirit have brought out the best in an amazing group of Middle School students over the last two years. The students took on many school leadership roles, worked with their Pre-K buddies, helped to plan school events, participated in advisory, modeled positive character traits, and worked hard to help maintain the school’s strong sense of community during remote learning this past Spring.

Brown expects that S.I.S. will be open for in-person education in the Fall. The school has already begun planning and implementing new health and safety measures.

The enrollment and financial aid process is currently underway for families interested in enrolling for the 2020-2021 school year. Virtual tours are available and will provide prospective students and families the opportunity to see the campus, meet faculty and staff, and learn more about the school’s strong academics and caring culture. Families interested in scheduling a private virtual tour may visit www.siskids.org/admissions/campus-tour or contact Colleen Fortune, Admissions Liaison, at 518-583-0841 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Education

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Independent School’s 2019-2020 school year came to a close on Friday, June 19.  Due to the national health crisis and school closures, students from Saratoga Independent School spent the last few months engaged in remote learning from home. 

The school has many end-of-year traditions that the students have grown to love, including Field Day, Yearbooks, an Art Show, a Variety Show, and Carnival.  Usually these events are held in person, during the school day.  This year, students and teachers came up with creative solutions to keep these traditions alive virtually. 

Head of School Lisa Brown, said, “Our Saratoga Independent School community is extraordinarily strong.  We have always put our students first and wanted to find a way to give them the community experience they have always appreciated during our year-end activities.” 

A week full of events was enjoyed by all students, from the safety of their homes.  “We have incredibly thoughtful and creative faculty and students. They worked together to make the end of the school year memorable,” stated Brown.

The first event was a car parade held at the school.  Students saw their teachers and received their yearbooks, which included pages dedicated to remote learning.  All teachers and staff wore masks, along with our mascot, Thunder the Moose.

Physical Education teacher Trish Bendon, aka Coach B, created a virtual Field Day for all grade levels.  Each class section joined a live Zoom to compete against another class in at-home activities, including penguin walking, flip your lid, paper airplane corn hole, and more.  Students enjoyed the friendly competition and opportunity to engage online with students from other classes.

Spanish teacher Lisa-Renee Ackerman, aka Señora Chocolate, created a Virtual Variety Show, which was shared online with the entire school community.  A Padlet allowed viewers to offer virtual applause.

Art teacher Gabi Moore created a Virtual Art Show, showcasing student work, including box sculptures, paintings, shadow drawings, and even graphic design and videos.

On the last day of school, students usually participate in an outdoor carnival with booths designed and operated by our Intermediate, Fifth Grade, and Middle School students.  This year was no different. Jeny Randall, Middle School Coordinator, led the charge to create a Virtual Carnival.  Students designed booths held during live Zoom meetings where students participated in an array of carnival games.

In lieu of the usual Fifth Grade celebration, this year Fifth Graders received lawn signs to display at home to celebrate their graduation and move to Middle School.

Brown stated, “It was amazing to see the school community come together to create such wonderful activities.  I am so happy the students ended this unusual school year with positive and meaningful memories.” 

Brown expects that Saratoga Independent School will be open for education in person in the Fall.  The school has already begun planning and implementing new health and safety measures.  The 2020-2021 school year will mark the first year with all three Middle School grades and Brown is excited for the first S.I.S. 8th Grade graduation next spring.

Published in Education
Thursday, 13 April 2017 14:08

Saratoga Independent School Celebrates 25 Years

SARATOGA SPRINGS – What began with six kindergarteners in the basement of the Trinity Methodist Church in Gansevoort has now, 25 years and change later, grown to include 132 K-6 students in its own building, tucked away amongst the trees on 60-acres of land.

The Saratoga Independent School (SIS) has been celebrating 25 years of operation since the beginning of the current school year back in Sept. 2016.  From humble beginnings, the school has grown in both scope and vision, with its enrollment numbers swelling by well over 100, and the amount of classes and programs on offer growing at the same pace.  Looking to the immediate future, the growth seems likely to continue.

Back in Sept. 1991, the parents of six local preschool students on their way to kindergarten found that there were not any schools in the area that would offer their children the same style of education that they had gotten in preschool.  Specifically, they wanted a school that would not group them with other children strictly by date of birth, and that would teach them thematically, weaving different subjects around a common idea to give them a better sense of how their lessons reflected the world around them.

“So, these five parents did everything from getting the charter from State Ed,” Felice Karlitz, Director of School, said.  “Finding a place, and [they] started the school in the basement of the Methodist church in Gansevoort with their own five kids.”

From the start, the growth of enrollment at SIS was strong.  In three years, the school had outgrown the basement and moved to the warehouse area behind a Shoe Depot on Division St. in Saratoga Springs.  In 2003, after “exponential” enrollment and staffing increases, the school raised $850,000 in land, gifts, and pledges to begin the construction of their current location, the Anderson Campus, named in honor of Gail Anderson and her late husband, Willard. 

[CORRECTION: In the print version of this article, it was incorrectly stated that Gail Anderson was deceased.  This is incorrect, and the online version has been corrected to reflect this information.]

In 2010, the school added an east wing, adding space for new computer and science labs, as well as a dedicated art room. A year later, in 2011, SIS achieved one its biggest milestones by earning accreditation from the New York State Association of Independent Schools, which involved “a two year introspective self study, a four day visit by a review committee, and a full NYSAIS review of the findings by the committee and the school.”

Currently, construction is underway on the second floor of the school’s east wing, which the school intends to use to add grade 7-8 middle school level programs to their offerings.  They estimate that this new middle school will be up and running in 2019.

All photos by Photoandgraphic.com.


Published in Education