We look at one of the area’s most renowned boarding school facilities: Brandon Hall School. read more
Educational options abound in metro Atlanta, which is home to top-rated public schools and outstanding private schools. Yet there is another category that also provides students and parents with unparalleled options: boarding schools. These institutions take the school experience to a different level, blending first-rate academic and extracurricular opportunities with a truly unique student living environment. Some boarding schools also offer day school options, allowing young learners to take advantage of their superlative offerings while maintaining a more traditional day-to-day experience. Whichever option is chosen, students benefit from the incomparable educational and personal foundation provided by these academies. Here, KNOWAtlanta looks at two noteworthy schools right here in metro Atlanta.
1701 Brandon Hall Drive, Atlanta, GA 30350
According to Dean Fusto, President and Head of School, Brandon Hall School in Sandy Springs, is a co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school that resides on a beautiful 24-acre wooded campus along the banks of the Chattahoochee River. It is small by design, boasting approximately 140 students in grades 6 through 12 who represent more than 20 countries. Those students enjoy small classes size, with a teacher ratio of 8:1, which allows students to make strong connections with caring teachers, coaches, advisors and dorm parents. What’s more, Brandon Hall offers an Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate curriculum, as well as a wide variety of clubs and activities so students can “pursue their passions and find their voice.”
“Boarding programs provide opportunities for students to learn life skills and independence that they will need for college and beyond,” Fusto notes. “Our students are part of a strong community of learners who thrive with the structure and design of our programs. We provide real world opportunities to serve the greater community as well leadership skill development.”
Brandon Hall’s curriculum includes all of the basic areas, from math and English to science and social studies, as well as modern languages, fine arts and physical education. The school also offers students the chance to participate in extracurricular activities like sports, robotics, art, theater, music production, a sustainability club and more. Additionally, Brandon Hall facilitates access to more than 20 community service partnerships, a Model United Nations chapter and a student-led Leadership and Diversity Council. During the 2020-21 academic year, three student leaders created the school’s first student-led entrepreneurial farm on campus called The Homestead. All of this combined prepares students for life beyond the classroom and the campus. And everything the school offers is available to both boarding students and day students, the latter of which comprise 50 percent of the student population.
“Every child learns differently and has unique needs and interests,” Fusto says. “Boarding demands a high level of independence and autonomy. Research demonstrates that often boarding students have a leg up on the demands of college life for having lived in a dorm and experienced a high degree of independence. Additionally, boarding schools typically matriculate students from across the globe, which fosters community, intercultural understanding and collaboration. Day students’ lives also are enriched by the perspectives and worldviews of students from across the globe while also being able to have their home base in Atlanta.”
Brandon Hall’s community is in fact marked by global diversity, and the student body is encouraged and taught to become successful and community-oriented global citizens who have the social skills they need to flourish in today’s world. As Fusto concludes, “Every student’s voice matters, and providing a safe environment for students to pursue and explore passions is our hallmark.”
2001 Riverside Drive, Gainesville, GA 30501
Riverside Military Academy (RMA) is a transformational school for boys in sixth through 12th grades who desire structure, accountability and leadership education. The campus is located on 206 acres on Lake Lanier in Gainesville and offers both a distinct middle school program of project-based learning and signature high school programs that include aerospace engineering, cyber security, dual enrollment and college prep academics.
“For over 100 years, RMA has been producing leaders of character prepared for success in college and beyond,” says Amanda Willis, Vice President of Strategic Communication. “Our mission is not to produce young men prepared for the military, though a small number each year choose that career path. Our mission attracts a diverse, international and highly competitive student body of scholars, athletes and leaders who learn from faculty and staff who embrace RMA’s core values of integrity, loyalty, respect and duty.”
RMA offers both boarding and day options for students. Each school year averages 540 cadets, with 96 percent of those students taking advantage of the boarding aspect of the campus. In terms of academics, classes are small and diverse, allowing cadets to interact with teachers and classmates in a welcoming yet challenging atmosphere. Outside of the classroom, RMA offers Georgia High School interscholastic sports, intramural sports and teams and clubs ranging from robotics to chess to fishing. And for those students who choose the on-campus boarding experience, RMA gives cadets a home away from home that provides an immersive experience “from the first bugle call until lights out,” as Willis notes. Students who live on campus with their peers develop deep friendships and have access to outstanding leadership opportunities. What’s more, Willis adds, “The boarding option also nudges boys into maturity and accountability as they are more responsible for their daily activities and outcomes.”
Riverside Military Academy provides an all-encompassing and gratifying experience that has changed the lives of countless young men since the school’s founding in 1907. RMA teaches students the values of honor, patriotism and selflessness through discipline and structure and gives them the opportunity to develop rigor, grit and confidence while learning lifelong skills of working together as a team. Without a doubt, students of the renowned private military institution receive a completely comprehensive experience that stays with them for the rest of their lives.