The Langley School | Washington, D.C.
In Washington, D.C.’s ferociously competitive K-12 school market, The Langley School offered an intriguing alternative: a preschool—8 model emphasizing both emotional and intellectual growth. But many parents saw this model as risky—would their child gain admission to D.C.’s top-tier high schools?
Langley needed to tell greater D.C. what this school and its families already knew: Langley’s intentional combination of academic and emotional development prepares students exceptionally well not only for high school, but for well-lived lives. By defining, claiming, and celebrating this unique model, the school could proudly proclaim how, together, we live Langley.
Ayesha Flaherty, Director of Enrollment Management
Founded in 1942 as one of the nation’s first nursery schools, The Langley School has always viewed childhood not just as a stage to pass through, but as a period of steep, complex, and crucial learning. Nurtured by exceptionally dedicated parents, teachers, and staff members, Langley has grown into a vibrant, closeknit, preschool-through-grade-8 learning community. However, in the fiercely competitive DC-area school market—dominated not only by nationally noted preschool-through-grade-12 independent schools, but unusually strong public schools—many families apparently found Langley’s model too risky.
Anxious to secure their children’s high school placement earlier, many either chose preschool-through-12 institutions to begin with, or left Langley for those schools before completing the program. How could Langley find and retain families who specifically sought the learning experience only Langley could offer?
Intensely focused on high academic achievement, DC-area independent school families often seem to buy into a false dichotomy: a school can be either emotionally nurturing or academically challenging, but not both. Because Langley’s program—and self-presentation—strongly emphasizes compassion, kindness, and personal attention, families both outside and within the community too readily assumed a lack of academic rigor. To convince these families, Langley didn’t need to minimize the importance of kindness in learning quite the opposite.
But the school had not yet clarified and claimed the essential relationship between emotional support and intellectual achievement, nor had Langley fully defined and internally shared a schoolwide pedagogical philosophy that ensured consistent rigor and alignment through the grade levels. Further, families did not yet understand how culminating at eighth grade, not twelfth, intentionally supports Langley’s developmentally attuned philosophy—and helps ensure a better high school experience for their children.
Our CRANE team developed a program around the affirmation “We live Langley” to refocus families’ thinking not just on what kinds of students, but what kinds of human beings they wanted their children to become. A series of adjectives—intentional, balanced, ambitious, joyful, compassionate, attentive, inclusive—describes Langley’s program and the young people who graduate from the school, fully prepared for their best-fit high school. A design featuring bright, friendly colors; photographs emphasizing community, kindness, and collaborative learning; and energetic, intertwined patterns reinforce the vibrancy and connectedness of
the Langley experience.
The Langley community has exuberantly unified around the shared spirit of Living Langley—and applications are already on the rise, with a 10%+ increase over last year and up across all grade levels.
The school also exceeded its first-year enrollment target by nine students.
Recently, the school sponsored an “I Live Langley” photo contest, and the #WeLiveLangley hashtag now frequently enlivens the school’s active Facebook and Twitter feeds.