Editor’s Note: This article is in response to an annual invitation by LIBPA to each of the principals of the schools (public and private) on Lady’s Island to provide an article describing their school.
By Stephen Schools
Headmaster, Beaufort Academy
If you are reading this with your own high school education deep in the rear view mirror, then you will remember that when we were in school there were not very many choices.
Schools were created in the industrial age and modeled after factories: we put the youngest students in on one end of the building and they came out of the other end older, larger, and with more brainpower.
Curricula were fairly prescriptive: We learned to read in the first grade, to multiply in the second grade, state history somewhere in the middle grades, biology in ninth grade, and trigonometry at some point that most of us would rather forget.
In the end, this form of education served us fairly well. We were able to succeed in college if we so chose and we were able to succeed in the workplace.
We now know that our education also stamped out most of the creativity and original thinking that we once possessed.
Thankfully, the educational world has advanced, and we are faced with quite the buffet of options today.
There are many terms that describe different types of education these days: Paideia, Classical, Montessori, Experiential, STEM, and on and on. All of these terms represent legitimate and potentially rigorous academic environments.
At Beaufort Academy, our form of educating children is harder to describe with a single term or methodology. We cannot put our form of education in a box and label it.
At Beaufort Academy, we deliver an educational experience that is broad, robust and challenging for all of our students. We recognize that each of us learns in a unique way and with unique skills and unique hurdles to cross.
If you walked the halls of our classroom buildings and peeked in to multiple classes over the course of the day, you would see techniques that could be used in any one of the environments listed above.
Our goal is to prepare our students for their future not for our past.
Part of that goal is to produce students who have learned in multiple ways and who are able to understand different perspectives and a variety of points of view. We have Paideia-style discussions, traditional lectures, experiential opportunities and many other educational practices in our classrooms.
Through this multifaceted approach, we can reach every student and provide each student with the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.
In our small classes, we are able to know and understand each child, and we are able to guide them educationally, morally, and socially to be prepared for their next step in life. That next step may be first grade or a large university, but in any case, we will have aimed to prepare them well for all that is in front of them.
In addition to the usual five subject core academic offerings, we teach computer coding and critical thinking to grades 1-9, we offer a range of seven Advanced Placement courses to our upper school students, and we take advantage of the area in which we live and allow our students to experience the Lowcountry by visiting area attractions and by engaging members of our community to come to the school and share ideas and experiences.
Additionally, we allow our students to express creativity through various art, drama, and creative writing classes.
The satisfaction in knowing that we have reached our goals comes when our graduates come back to visit the school and consistently speak of their strong feelings of being well prepared for college level work.
We are proud of our variety of educational styles and lack of a specific label. The elements described above are the guiding elements of an independent school education. Beaufort Academy is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools and is accredited by the Southern Association of Independent Schools.
We are the only school in Northern Beaufort County that belongs to these organizations, and we take pride in studying and following their guidelines for best practices in developing a rich and rewarding educational experience in the classroom and beyond.