the se​arch for Excellence

lives here ...

Welcome to ...

Whetstone School Consulting

 Komorebi" (木漏れ日) (koh- mo- reh- bee) is a Japanese phrase that means "sunlight streaming through trees"  or 

"the dappled light made by sunlight filtering through trees" - much about perspective

At Whetstone, we help school leadership understand, manage and refine both incoming and outgoing perspectives as we help to grow market awareness, brand strength and enrollment demand within the market footprint. 

We also provide specific services for School Boards and School Heads. 

The Overview : Our Mission


The Southeast Independent School Scene -  2021 Edition

The greater Chattanooga area, southeast Tennessee, north Georgia and the entire Southeast - all these areas are seeing strong population growth and the stress for public schools systems to keep up is a real issue.  In recent years, business for independent schools has been good especially given the recent rising economy and over-burdened public systems. Business up until this past spring has been in the "green" and schools have felt a secure sense of supply and demand with healthy enrollments. This secure feeling that schools have been operating with in recent years is just another one of many why independent schools must not become complacent with but rather must use this time to strengthen their services and understand their customer and business model more clearly than ever. 

Now, we live in what feels like another world.

The private school scene is changing along with the arrival of a new generation of parents and this requires independent and charter schools to be very self-aware and to refine their systems and ask themselves the "right" questions if they want to remain relevant going forward.

How has education changed since 2000? What has changed for schools in the last 20 years? 10 years? For most places the answer is "a lot" and the answer for independent schools in the southeast is no different. So much has indeed changed and change is occurring faster than ever it seems for most schools as a new generation of parents have more options. What a difference a year makes - last year this time schools were full and the economy strong and now, the market is much softer due to financial pressures and the mainstreaming of new learning methods that push the traditional school model to the edges of sustainability. Regardless of any one school's enrollment position, there is new, real weakness within the industry as a whole. It has been slowly occurring over recent years and now the pandemic and the ensuing fallout has only increased this overall weakness. However, this is also a moment where independent schools can show value to curious, potential customers. 

For example, Chattanooga is a special place for many reasons, one of which is the vast selection of educational options which includes an impressive list of public, magnet, charter and private school choices. These schools are great assets and blessings to the community and to many families. Families today have more choice than ever before regarding their educational options, combined with more pressure than in past years regarding this all-important decision. 

Because of all these factors, parents, smartly, are looking for answers more than ever before. 

This scenario is true in many areas across the country. Education has become a top topic again.

 Independent schools operate through the health of their enrollment systems. The health of any given school's enrollment system is extremely important. Parents considering private school options should have very welcoming, clear, informative and smooth enrollment processes. Parents today are also being pulled in many financial directions and this challenge for private schools is as great as ever. Parents considering private schools often feel some degree of stress and anxiety about the process and the upcoming outcome. 

Some good news - schools can help with this. 

Affordability has replaced selectivity as the main issue for many families. Still, some families are not concerned with the cost as much as they are with simply getting "the best" for their child. 

Attracting more families, expanding admission funnels, sharpening their value proposition and being more aware of customers is where schools must be sharp and clear. Schools must be aware of their customer profile and among other things, keeping their current families fully invested. WSC is dedicated to the improvement of the independent school industry by helping schools with different aspects of their operations such as customer service and experiences for families, the processes and systems schools use and the ultimate outcomes yielded by private schools. The outcome goals for schools are happier families, stronger enrollment demand, clearer internal awareness, stronger community brand awareness and better financial security.

The Most Important Customer

Borrowing from some of the greatest American business minds, the concept that the most important customer, is the customer you already have, is a very real and true concept.

Growing the Tribe

So yes, we are all members of tribes and schools are great examples of this. Our best recruiters are our current tribe members - our parents. Arming them with info to help us grow is crucial. Schools must cultivate this organic workforce.

Feeding the Sawmill

Every single person at the school is a member of the Admissions Team. This is true and every person at the school needs to know what that specifically means for them and what the​y can do to help. We all have a duty to help keep the logs coming in at the sawmill.

Feedback anyone !?!

School pride. Awareness. Humility. Adaptability. These are some aspects that school communities must manage and balance for excellence to occur. Schools must be intentional about seeking excellence and feedback is key. Surveys are our friends - and very helpful ones.

Walking the walk...

John​ny Cash called it, "walking the line" but the idea is the same in that schools must act on information and ideas and having an internal system for managing feedback as well as systems to propose and even implement changes is key to excellence. Change for the better is the action needed in the pursuit for excellence.


With almost 30 years experience working in the private school scene of Chattanooga and the southeast U.S., William Newberry has seen the changes and challenges of the private school market firsthand. Having worked with thousands of families over the years and having visited and worked with hundreds of schools across the southeast in recent years, his knowledge is well honed and current for sharing best practices. Previously serving on the administrative staffs of McCallie School, then Baylor School, William has a strong history of work experience to help schools find smart, creative ways to seek excellence in their business.


Whetstone School Consulting

824 Scenic Hwy, #7 , Lookout Mountain, TN, 37350