Greenwich Education Group’s tenth annual private day and boarding school fair featured over 100 different schools.
Among them was Greenwich Academy.
Assistant Director of Admissions Betsy Feiner, who has taught English at the school for 20 years and has two daughters enrolled there, described the typical Greenwich Academy girl.
“She’s intellectually curious. She’s brimming with enthusiasm. She has a positive posture towards life and takes advantage of every opportunity. GA girls are go-getters and achievers, but, more importantly, they are deeply kind and value community,” she said. “Their relationships with peers and teachers are paramount, and their sisterhood endures long after they leave campus.”
Greenwich Academy recently launched its master plan. “We are rebuilding a new Lower School to include a number of flexible learning spaces, as well as new classrooms. The space is light and open to encourage collaboration across the grades.” Ms. Feiner said. “We’re very excited about the opportunities the new spaces will provide our students.”
Ms. Feiner said that while Greenwich Academy focuses on educating and empowering girls and their unique developmental needs, they also have a unique relationship with the all boys Brunswick School. “We cross enroll most upper school classes,” she said. “That means the girls graduate having experienced a co-ed environment as well as a single-sex one.”
Director of Admission of Groton School in Massachusetts, James Funnell said the picturesque school is ideally located 45 minutes northwest of Boston.
The school, which is coed, enrolls approximately 380 students in grades 8 through 12, with about 85% boarding students and 15% day students.
“We’re not looking for one type of student,” Mr. Funnell said. “The kids will be strong academically and motivated, but we will trade a few points on SSAT for kids who are gung-ho enthusiastic and hard working.”
“We would just as soon have a kid who is active in discussion. Even if they’re straight A and super smart, we want someone who will be provocative in discussion,” he added. “We like our classes to have 13 teachers instead of 12 kids and one teacher.”
Mr. Funnell said historically Groton School has been known for being strong in the humanities. “We’re about putting people into service,” he said, adding that the school also places emphasis on tradition.
“We still require classics in the younger forms, and everyone has to take two years of a classical language,” he said.
Groton School headmaster Temba Maqubela’s background is as a 26 year chemistry teacher. “He has really strengthened the STEM side of our programming. In fact, he said he wouldn’t take the job if he couldn’t teach.”
Indeed Mr. Maqubela’s story is compelling, and is chronicled in the school’s Fall 2013 Quarterly.
The story starts at boarding school in South Africa when the then 17-year-old Maqubela’s classroom was stormed by police who detained him for anti-apartheid activities. The experience stayed with Maqubela, making him determined to fight against injustice and for equality, and a firm believer in the ability of education to transform lives.
Christy Giles, the Associate Director of Admissions at Community School in Sun Valley, Idaho, said her school is a day and boarding school for students in Pre-K through grade 12.
“What sets us apart are our strong academics and outdoor programs,” Giles said. “We use that as a way to teach kids leadership skills and to take them away from technology – that builds strong character for them to take back to their studies.”
“We want kids to find their passion through adventure,” she continued. “Both in outdoors and in academics. We want kids to try new things and take chances.”
All Community School students go on four outdoor trips a year, which amounts to about 18 days of the school year.
“Those trips can range from backpacking the Oregon coast, to rafting and kayaking the Salmon River in Idaho, to a junior solo in Moab, Utah.”
The school also has a small boarding environment – 36 students out of 180 – most of whom are enrolled in the school’s Ski Academy.
For skiers, the school bought an old building from Smith Sunglasses and gutted it. “Now it’s a beautiful residence hall with views of the Rocky Mountains,” Ms. Giles said.
Each student in the Ski Academy receives a high quality education combined world-class coaching and training, whether the student is pursuing alpine racing, park and pipe, cross country, moguls, big mountain, or snowboard.
“We have one of the top ski racing programs in the country,” Giles continued, adding that while some students train for the US Ski Team, others ski recreationally. “It runs the gamut of levels, but skiers at the top levels often move to Sun Valley to continue their training at that level.”
Giles said the Community School’s Outdoor Leadership Academy is also popular.
“Students can specialize in kayaking, back country skiing, mountaineering and rock climbing,” she said. “They get their leadership and certifications in those particular areas and then they are trained to plan expeditions and lead trips for kids at the school or to go on for summer jobs.”
In addition to the Ski Academy and the Outdoor Leadership Academy, the Community School has a Creative Arts Academy for students focusing on visual and theater arts.
“Those are our three areas of focus, but other kids come for our strong academics,” she said. “We have kids who go on to top prep schools, but primarily what stands out is our outdoor program.”
Giles said that 9th grade is an ideal year for boarding students to enter.
“We have two new boarders from the Greenwich area next year,” she said.
Founded in 1922, Eaglebrook School, located two hours west of Boston in in Deerfield, MA is a junior boarding and day school for boys in grades 6-9.
The school enrolls 205 boarding and 50 day students from 21 states and 23 different nations.
“The typical Eaglebrook student is a boy who is athletic or musically inclined,” said Christopher Loftus,the Director of Admission. “Maybe – maybe hasn’t found his stride yet in the classroom. We offer a nurturing and structured classroom. It’s a small, interactive and engaging classroom where kids learn the core skills to prepare them well for secondary school and life beyond.”
Unique to Eaglebrook is that the school has its own ski area with chair lift. They also have a full athletic facility with an outdoor track, indoor pool, tennis center, hockey arena and gym with six squash courts and a wrestling room. At Eaglebrook boys are required to play a sport each season, either competitively or not.
Mr. Loftus said in 2017 the school opened its Edward P Evans Academic Center, a 38,000 square foot addition to the academic center for science, music and arts.
Mr. Loftus said that after Eaglebrook, boys typically continue their education at a competitive boarding school for secondary school.
“Most go to the most competitive secondary schools. We prepare kids well, not just in the classroom, but in leadership. Any of the selective boarding schools love getting our kids.”
“Our kids learn how to live in a community and gain the academic and leadership skills to transition into secondary boarding school life much more easily.” – Christopher Loftus, Eaglebrook School Director of Admission
“We go through the 9th grade, which is a fairly important,” Loftus explained. “We have believed for 97 years that it is very important to offer boys an opportunity to have true leadership positions in the 9th grade. Because of that they’re able to gain more aptitude and comfort transitioning into secondary schools. Our boys generally know the ropes.”
In sixth form (9th grade) the boys serve as student council leaders, dormitory proctors, table proctors, team captains, committee members and big brothers.
The school incorporates Core Skills into all aspects of the community of learning. Core Skills include self-advocacy and accountability, organization and time management, citizenship, self expression and creativity, and critical thinking.
“Kids understand the sixth form year is all about them demonstrating these skills,” Loftus said. “We want them to venture forth from Eaglebrook with these skill because this will make them successful in secondary school and in life.”
Links Academy, a division of Greenwich Education Group, offers a one-on-one and small-group school experience.
“We have a very diverse group of kids coming from public and private schools,” said said Corey Mack, a Director at Links. “But they all need individualized curriculum, scheduling and teaching.”
Mr. Mack said students at Links all have particular learning differences. “Some are experiencing medical issues, or we’re supporting a therapeutic program they’re in.”
Victoria Newman, founder of Greenwich Education Group, said, “Links Academy has a passionate group of educators and subject area specialists who are the best and the brightest in the field of education.”
She said the school has the unique ability to meet every child where they are and enable them to realize their potential.
“What also makes Links unique is that it encompasses a variety of learners, from those taking an array of AP classes, to students who need multi-sensory instruction or Executive Functioning skills.”
Ms. Newman said flexible scheduling allows Links Academy to tailor a program to meet the unique needs of every child and enable them to realize their potential.
Tyler Whitley, an admissions officer at the Taft School said the private coed school for students in grades 9-12 is situated on 226-acres. The school is highly selective with an acceptance rate of about 20%.
“We we have 1700 to 1800 applicants for 185 or 190 spots,” Mr. Whitley said, adding that there are about 500 boarders and 100 day students, in addition to a small postgraduate class.
Asked to describe the typical Taft student, he said, “We are looking for exceptional students who love to learn. You have to be a great student to succeed at Taft.”
Also he said Taft students are very involved in their community.
“Our motto is not to be served, but to serve,” he said. “We like kids to understand it’s not just about them.”
Third, he said the school look for students with a passion, whether they may be an outstanding artist, musician or athlete. “Whatever you bring to Taft beside being a great student in the classroom, our goal is to educate the whole person.”
Mr. Whitley said while students enter in 9th, 10th, 11th or post grad, most students arrive in 9th or 10th grade.
“We strive to be very balanced,” he continued. “We’re not well known in particular as a science, math or liberal arts school. We want to be strong in all of those areas.”
Taft features programs in service, and boasts a department called “Global Studies and Service,” which prepares students to become global citizens. Through course work, co-curricular programs, and service to communities, both local and global, students act as stewards of the environment and advance the causes of equity and justice.
The school is also unique in that it has a wide geographical footprint.
“We have students from 44 different countries and 33 different states. We’re about 20% international,” Whitley said. “We also have a lot of kids from Fairfield County and Westchester County.”
The school is just over an hour from Greenwich, which Mr. Whitley said is far enough for the kids to have a great boarding experience, but close enough for families to come up and see a game or take their child out to dinner.
“We are a very competitive place, and our kids are fantastic,” he added. “But they also really support each other. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. It’s still a high school experience and you want to have fun, but you want to achieve at a high level.”