After 13 years of teaching at a public high school, I left to teach at Harrisburg Academy. Since then, many of my former colleagues have inquired about my choice. Am I happy? Is Harrisburg Academy “better” than teaching at public school? Am I glad that I left public education? The short answer to all three of these questions is: yes.
The Academy is different in so many ways. As a math teacher, I have a hard time verbalizing the differences. The environment is unlike any public school. The administrators, faculty, and students are the most supportive people with whom I have ever had the privilege to work. At the Academy, the focus is on the “whole student.”
The Academy’s holistic approach to education supports the adolescent learner and encourages students to find balance in their day and grow as individuals through a variety of team-building experiences, social activities, and personal connections. The daily schedule includes built-in breaks that allow students time to pause, socialize or get some fresh air. Similarly, the weekly schedule allows time for students to research something they are passionate about, but perhaps have never explored through our Centers for Experiential Learning & Innovation.
Academics are a priority; we don’t “teach to the test” here. The school doesn’t shut down for two weeks while state-mandated testing occurs. What you’ll find at Harrisburg Academy are small classes where all students have an opportunity to receive personal attention and have a better chance of success.
A key component of that success is the relationship between teachers, parents, and students at the Academy. Teachers at Harrisburg Academy foster open communication with students and their parents through a variety of methods. Teachers meet with parents for parent-teacher conferences at all levels – including Upper School. Teachers also meet with a core group of students twice a week to monitor their progress academically and socially. If a student has an issue, the doors of communication are wide open and concerns can get addressed quickly.
If these connections weren’t enough, teachers also meet directly with a core group of students twice weekly to monitor their progress academically and socially. If a student has an issue, the doors of communication are wide open, and concerns can get addressed quickly.
Finally, character counts at the Academy. Students hold themselves to high standards as learners and peers. Students feel safe here, in all ways. As a result, they express themselves without restriction and explore without the fear of failure. As a new teacher, it was intimidating to start the academic year at a school with such a reputation of excellence. However, the passion at Harrisburg Academy is infectious.
So was it worth it? Changing institutions? Without a doubt – yes.
Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.