The Patriot-News recently posted an opinion piece by Harrisburg Academy’s Head of School, Jim Newman. This “As I See It” discussed the general goals of American education and the valuable results the Academy achieves. The result is a student who is successfully prepared for college and life beyond, who in their time here is supported by faculty and staff in an environment focused on outcomes and researched learning practices. The educational journey at the Academy is designed to produce outcomes that meet each student’s academic, social, and emotional needs. Small class size, a safe environment, and faculty who are involved in the daily lives of students are the successful ingredients to graduating well-prepared young Americans who not only often tutor peers in college, but who are self-aware and globally focused on the need to be a life-long learner.
In addition to the learning environment, the Academy’s academically focused students are key to the productive environment. High expectations for all students foster a positive peer culture where the norm for achievement, respect, and empathy is practiced. In part, the Academy’s independent school status enables us to search for and admit students who not only benefit from the school, but students who can positively contribute to the Academy’s learning community. When considering a new student for admission, the best match is a student who is motivated to participate in a program that supports and challenges him or her. In addition to academic transcripts, we refer to sources including teacher recommendations, conduct records, writing samples, academic testing, personal interviews, and evaluations from Academy teachers following the student’s visit day. The successful match between school and student is an important task and we view this responsibility as the first step in the mutual benefit between our students and the Academy.
Similar to the small teacher-to-student ratio and personalized learning that is Dr. Newman’s recipe for the success of a small school, I would add the importance of a healthy correlation between the expectations of the academic community and students’ desires to learn. We welcome students who are searching for respectful peers and a climate driven by high academic and behavioral expectations. Academy students value the high standards established by the school and take pride in being a part of a community of learners who is prepared to successfully collaborate and lead.