Why Boarding School
I asked William Ellis, Associate Headmaster for Enrollment Management, Director of Admission, and Director of Financial Aid at The Kiski School in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania, to discuss educating boys. Bill very kindly offered the following essay in response to my request. ~Rob Kennedy.
Boys’ residential college preparatory schools are more important now than ever before. Statistics, surveys, and polls all show that boys’ achievement is not as strong in high school as their female counterparts. Women outnumber men in four-year colleges by a nearly three-to-two ratio that has been growing since the late 1970s. Some would say a boy crisis in education is brewing or already here. I was at my niece’s graduation from a large, highly competitive university where anecdotally the Chancellor was a woman, the keynote speaker was a woman, the president of the senior class was a woman, three of the four honorees were women and an amazing 65% of the graduates were women. Having been raised in a house of four strong sisters and a superb Mom (Dad and I were outvoted often), believe me, I am proud of all of the strides made by women since I was a boy, and I do not think their journey is complete by any means.
Having spent the first 25 years of my career at independent coed boarding schools, I have had a front-row seat to this phenomenon, of consistently outperforming the boys. My colleagues used to ask me “What’s wrong with the boys?”
Something which intrigues most of us parents when we think about boarding school is the idea that the school provides everything in one very well-crafted package. The academics, the sports, the extracurriculars, and the supervision are all part of the deal. For parents whose careers involve a lot of traveling knowing that their child is fully occupied and properly supervised is reassuring. As you begin to dig deeper into boarding schools and what's involved, you begin to encounter concepts as well as tangible things which in many ways are unique to residential schools. These are what make a boarding school experience so special.
Codes of Conduct
Codes of Conduct in boarding schools have teeth. They mean what they say. They can and will be enforced. Yes, public schools have codes of conduct too; however, the enforcement process can be cumbersome and time-consuming because public school students have constitutional rights. Private school students have rights too. Those rights are spelled out in detail in the contract which you and the school signed. I mention this because you cannot assume anything with respect to the rights your child enjoys in a boarding school. Read the contract carefully. Have your attorney review it. Ask questions. Understand the terms of the contract as it applies to the code of conduct. Finally, explain the consequences of infractions of the school's code of conduct to your child. That said, codes of conduct are one of the reasons why your child will be safe in most
If you have begun to think about sending your son or daughter to boarding school, I offer the following suggestions and guidance from one parent to another. Transferring from a public high school to a boarding school is a big deal for us grownups. But it is an even bigger deal for your child. Why? Because you literally are uprooting her from those familiar surroundings and routines, she has known ever since birth. While I understand that every young person views change differently, the reality is that going off to boarding school is a very big change. With that in mind, let's you and I look at some of the things we can do to facilitate this change.
Familiarize your child with what's involved.
You can familiarize your child with boarding school by involving her in the process from the beginning. In other words, don't present the idea as though the deal is done. If your child thinks that going off to boarding school is her idea, then you are off to a great start. The important thing to understand is that your child's viewpoint will be different from yours. She will focus on the immediate change to her familiar routine. She will have strong feelings about leaving home and her family and friends. She won't be thinking long-term or about the benefits which a boarding school education can provide her.
I advise that you engage an experienced educational consultant right from the beginning of your boarding
Editor's note: I asked Whitney Retzer, the Senior Associate Director of Admissions at St. Timothy's School, Stevenson, Maryland, to answer some questions which I know most parents have about boarding school. Here are her answers. ~Rob Kennedy
RK: 1. Can't my child get just as good an education in my local public school? Why should I go to all the expense and trouble of sending her to a boarding school?
WR: There are benefits to a private boarding school that cannot be matched. Students are given more support, encouragement, and differentiated instruction that is only possible in small classes and with greater access to teachers. St. Timothy’s school has a teacher-to-student ratio of 8:1 which means students can be in classrooms as small as six students and as large as twelve per teacher.
Also, the majority of St. Timothy’s faculty hold advanced degrees, and many live on campus and are therefore accessible and available to students outside the classroom. In this environment, students truly get the time and attention to flourish as 21st-century learners that are critical-thinking, curious, and caring global ambassadors.
RK: 2. What advantages can a boarding school offer parents looking to send their son or daughter to a private school?
WR: Boarding schools offer students once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to study and collaborate with friends from all over the nation and world. St. Timothy’s has students from 20 different countries and 15 different states who are all living and studying together. Students change roommates twice a year and assigned lunch seating changes
The International Baccalaureate covers the entire K-12 spectrum with three distinct educational curricula. In this article, we focus on American private schools which offer the Diploma Programme. This rigorous course of studies targets high school students ages 16-19. Colleges and universities the world over recognize the IB Diploma. The International Baccalaureate organization must authorize schools before they can be designated an IB school. The adherence to a strict set of standards and protocols is essentially what makes the IB Diploma so valuable. Let's take a look at boarding schools which offer the IB Diploma Programme.
Annie Wright School, Tacoma, WA
Founded in 1884
Number of students: 192
Grades 9-12. Girls
Religious Affiliation: Non-denominational
Annie Wright School has a PK-8 division which is coeducational. The high school is for girls only. The campus is located on 10 acres in the north end of Tacoma. The school has been an IB school since 2009. For complete details regarding curriculum, sports, extracurricular activities, costs, and other information, see the Annie Wright Schools profile.
Cheshire Academy, Cheshire, CT
Founded in 1794
Number of students: 400
Grades 8-12. Coeducational
Religious Affiliation: Non-denominational
Cheshire Academy is situated on 102 acres in the historic Connecticut town of Cheshire. The school has been an IB school since 2011. For complete details regarding curriculum, sports, extracurricular activities, costs, and other information, see the Cheshire Academy profile.
EF Academy New York, Thornwood, NY
Founded in 2005
Number of students: