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The Boarding School Edge
Developing the Whole Child

Outdoor Academy North Carolina
The Outdoor Academy in North Carolina integrates hiking into its curriculum

As time-honored institutions, boarding schools are revered for their distinct traditions and exceptional educational opportunities. Despite the antiquated and misguided myth that boarding schools are havens for privileged children or solutions for troubled students, boarding schools are most sought today for their academic excellence. As a new Metro Atlanta resident, you should certainly consider a boarding school education as an option—the learning environment, with a strong emphasis on academic and social development, may prove to be the right one for your child.

In a study conducted by the Art & Science Group, a market research firm, 91 percent of boarding school students claimed their schools are academically challenging. According to Paul Stockhammer, headmaster of Brandon Hall School, a boarding school in Dunwoody, “A boarding school environment often removes many of the distractions that prevent some students from focusing on their academic work, which should be a student’s primary focus, particularly in their secondary years. If at home, a child may watch TV or go to the mall after school, while at a boarding school, they do get to socialize, but the social aspect is put into the proper perspective. Academics come first.”

At boarding schools, students typically receive supervised study time, about two hours or so to focus only on homework. At Blue Ridge School in St. George, Virginia, there is a faculty-supervised study hall for all students every night during the week. “We teach our students the benefits of doing daily work, so they don’t fall behind or become overwhelmed at test time,” says Trip Darrin, assistant headmaster for enrollment and marketing at Blue Ridge. Additionally, academic achievement is strengthened by a boarding school’s smaller classes, which allow students to get more individual attention from teachers. The average class size at Blue Ridge is nine, and the school’s student-to-teacher ratio is 5-to-1.

With the unique advantages of a residential environment, boarding schools are noted for preparing students for life beyond the classroom. “Going off to boarding school fosters opportunities for students to gain self-awareness and confidence,” says Denis Stokes, director of admission for Christ School in Arden, North Carolina. “It offers students a safe and comfortable environment to make decisions and increase self-esteem.” Stockhammer agrees. “Boarding school is an education in living. It’s about educating the whole child,” he says.

In addition to spending more time on homework, students in the study reported spending more time per week exercising or playing sports. Boarding schools have the resources and facilities to offer their students excellent extracurricular opportunities, whether they are sports- or arts-related, or even something a bit more unusual—such as lessons in cooking or even aviation. The Outdoor Academy of the Southern Appalachians in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina, integrates outdoor activities into its curriculum, teaching hiking, backpacking, caving, canoeing and rock climbing skills in addition to its college preparatory subjects. At Walnut Hill School in Natick, Massachusetts, in addition to studying traditional subjects, students experience intensive arts training in ballet, music, creative writing, visual art and theater. At The Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas, students can participate in such programs as dance, orchestra, video, printmaking, computer graphic visualization and photography. Students at the largest independent girls’ school in the country may also take part in more than 30 special interest organizations and honor societies.

The residential component of boarding schools exposes students to demanding, character- shaping and friendship-forming experiences that leave lasting impressions on the students far outside the realm of the classroom. Strong friendships, independence and self-knowledge often result, as students are taught to handle a diversity of lifestyles. Christ School offers a work program on campus, in which every student helps to care for the school, either with tasks such as cleaning or dish duty, to help students maintain a sense of responsibility. According to Stokes, this offers the students “quality—minus the pretense.”
Outdoor Academy North Carolina
The Hockaday School in Texas has a strong athletics program.

A residential setting also allows faculty to take advantage of every teachable moment, whether serving as teachers, coaches, dorm parents, friends or mentors. “The different aspects of boarding school life are a catalyst for enriching relationships with students—getting to know them as people, not just as students,” says Lauren Hanson, a Latin and drama teacher at Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, Virginia. “We more deeply understand and support the students academically as a result of knowing them more personally as mentors.”

To meet the changing expectations and needs of today’s students, boarding schools offer choices beyond the traditional boarding option (i.e., all students live on campus). There are also boarding/day schools and five-day boarding schools, where students go home Friday afternoon and return Sunday evening, and students can choose co-educational or single-gender schools. Many schools are geared toward a certain niche, such as military schools, pre-professional arts schools, religious schools and special needs schools, just to name a few. In addition, there are therapeutic boarding schools that serve students with behavioral or emotional issues. Girard College in Philadelphia is a boarding school for students who come from financially limited households headed by one parent or guardian. All of its students receive full scholarships. These options, in addition to a broader, life-oriented education, offer students a distinct advantage, depending upon their interests and future plans.

And while parents may typically choose boarding schools that are long-distance, having a child attend a local boarding school is another option as well. At Brandon Hall School, some boarding students’ parents live within one or two miles of the school. “They may be very good parents, but their schedules may prevent them from being as involved in education as they’d like,” notes Stockhammer. “Parents can rest assured that their children are getting the structure, organization and accountability they need while at boarding school.”

The Association of Boarding Schools ( is an independent organization of 300 boarding schools designed to aid students and parents in understanding the boarding school experience, as well as help boarding schools find the right students for their particular environment. A smaller organization, the Southeastern Association of Boarding Schools ( comprises schools in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Outdoor Academy North Carolina
Boarding school students receive study time to focus only on homework.

There are hundreds of boarding schools in the United States, all of which would offer your child a different experience. With so much time spent at school, it is vital that the school’s interests match those of your child. Also, because of the residential setting of boarding schools, be sure to visit the school, speak with admissions representatives and, if possible, current students to make sure the experience will be the right one for your child.

Boarding School Directory

When seeking the right education option for your child, you should certainly consider the benefits of boarding schools. The confidence and independence that boarding schools afford may make your child’s transition to a new city and school easier. In addition, smaller classes and more one-on-one instruction help ensure that your child doesn’t fall behind at a new school. And perhaps most important, a boarding school setting emphasizes building ongoing friendships—with both teachers and students— which will be essential to your child’s success during this time of transition. The following profiles represent some of the boarding schools located in Georgia and nearby states.

Brandon Hall School
Dunwoody, Georgia

Brandon Hall School
Brandon Hall School graduates are well-prepared to meet the challenges of the real world.

Brandon Hall in Sandy Springs offers five-day and seven-day boarding for boys as well as a co-educational day program for college-bound students in grades four through 12. The accredited school specializes in small and one-toone classes that are ideal for students with learning issues or for those studying English as a second language (ESL). The program emphasizes organization, structure, the ordering of priorities, accountability, applied study skills, supervised study and multi-sensory instruction. The five-day boarding students usually live in Metro Atlanta or in towns in which they can go home on Friday afternoon and return on Sunday evening. The seven-day boarders usually come from throughout the United States as well as other countries. Enhancing the students’ education are excellent athletic and fine arts programs, clubs and community outreach programs. Brandon Hall’s proximity to transportation as well as to cultural, athletic, recreational, and educational opportunities provides an ideal location.

For more information, call 770-394-8177 or visit 1701 Brandon Hall Dr., Atlanta, GA 30350


Blue Ridge School
St. George, Virginia

Blue Ridge School
Technology makes learning exciting, challenging and relevant to the future at Blue Ridge School.
Blue Ridge School, located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, is a college preparatory boarding school for boys in grades nine through 12. For nearly 100 years, Blue Ridge has been helping generations of young men reach their potential. Founded in 1909, Blue Ridge focuses on Teaching Boys To Reach through learning practices that are boys-specific, personalized, structured, innovative and, most of all, engaging. Innovations in private education and financial assistance are hallmarks of Blue Ridge. A unique and extensive scholarship fund, restricted to middle-income families, helps make this quality education possible for many. Even the matchless location of the Blue Ridge campus has led to innovation. Located in St. George, Virginia (20 miles from Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia), on over 750 acres abutting the Shenandoah National Park, the campus provides a tremendous venue for the school’s comprehensive outdoor program, with both academic and recreational components. The program encompasses mountain biking, rock climbing, white-water rafting and Outward Bound experiences. With 35 dedicated faculty members, the current class size stands at nine. Blue Ridge also has a complete range of intercollegiate sports, from football to lacrosse, and offers wide-ranging arts programs, including fine arts, video and digital arts, theater, music and an award-winning choir. Blue Ridge School presently has 195 boys from 20 states, the District of Columbia and 14 countries.

For more information, call 434-985-2811 or visit 273 Mayo Dr., St. George, VA 22935

Brenau Academy

Gainesville, Georgia

Brenau Academy
Brenau Academy students enjoy international travel opportunities.

From the day Brenau Academy opened its doors in 1928, it has been a high school with a purpose: to prepare talented young women for college educations, successful futures and community involvement. Brenau offers small classes, a college preparatory curriculum and invested teachers. Living and learning on the campus of Brenau Women’s College prepares students for a confident transition into college. Advanced Academy students get a head start on college by taking courses at Brenau University, earning credits toward their college education. Academy students also benefit from a variety of clubs, athletic programs and international travel opportunities.

For more information, call 770-534-6140 or visit 500 Washington St. S.E., Gainesville, GA 30501

The Hockaday School

Dallas, Texas

The Hockaday School
The Hockaday School emphasizes Character, Courtesy, Scholarship and Athletics.
At The Hockaday School, over 1,000 students of diverse backgrounds and cultures are inspired to realize their full potential and to go on to lead brilliant lives. Hockaday is an independent, college preparatory day and boarding school for girls in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. The school prepares bright girls to define their place in the world, offering exceptional academics, athletics and cutting-edge facilities on a 100-acre campus in Dallas, Texas. Among the country’s finest college preparatory schools, Hockaday was founded almost a century ago and continues to build on its original Four Cornerstones: Character, Courtesy, Scholarship and Athletics.

For more information, call 214-363-0942 or visit 11600 Welch Rd., Dallas, TX 75229

American Hebrew Academy
Greensboro, North Carolina

American Hebrew Academy
The American Hebrew Academy campus includes collegiate-level athletic facilities.
Imagine a place that surpasses every expectation of what you’ve ever dreamed about high school. A global curriculum that includes a transformational educational environment where rigorous academics, experiential learning, world travel, leadership development and Jewish values form the foundation for success. The most technologically robust high school campus in America, collegiate-level athletic facilities and a pluralistic Jewish community that instills our international student body with the confidence, character and culture of the Jewish people. American Hebrew Academy is preparing students to change the future of the world, today. That’s the Academy Advantage. Get ready for the journey of a lifetime!

For more information, call 336-217-7100 or visit 4334 Hobbs Rd., Greensboro, NC 27410

Blue Ridge School
boarding schools

Brandon Hall
The Blue Ridge School

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