Why I love Beaufort Academy

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By Julia Stewart Corner

As I face retirement, I want to share with you what these last three years at Beaufort Academy (BA) have meant to me.  As you may know, I came on board at BA in August, 2011, when the school had just faced the unexpected and tragic loss of one of the finest educators in Beaufort County, Dr. Randy Wall. Coming from a background in secondary and post-secondary educational management, I had never worked in the independent school field.  But hey, I was a long-time educator, so I jumped in with both feet. And maybe even more importantly, I did not drown.

When asked what it is that I love about this job, this school, and this community, the list is long.  Here are just a few of the many thoughts I would love to share:

1. First, I love the mission of Beaufort Academy because it matters. There are few causes as noble as preparing children for their future, which in our case involves college as the first step.  We prepare the students well, and it takes a village to make it happen.  Everyone on campus knows the mission, and lives it every day.

2. Core values cement a child’s ethical make up for all of their life.  The BA core values — pride, leadership, respect, integrity, and intellect — permeate this campus. From the 3-year-olds to the 18-year-olds, we remind our precious students every day how their actions and decisions need to support these values.

3. Faculty members make a school. Yes, administration supports them, but the rubber meets the road with strong, dedicated faculty. The BA faculty are gifted, devoted, and go the extra mile every day. They know each student’s strengths and challenges, and find ways to reach and challenge every student, every day.  The commitment the faculty makes to the students is visible from early, early morning to late in the day.

4. A school has four vital components: students, parents, staff (including faculty), and the Board of Trustees. If they are in concert, working towards the same goals, a school flourishes. We have this quad in place and that is one of the reasons our “eagles” soar.

5. Technology supports education, but there is no substitute for a creative teacher. At BA, there are iPads, mini-Macs, computers, and promethean boards all over the place, and the teachers have the incredible job of making it all come together, and making it fun. The wonders of technology never cease to amaze me, but what teachers do with it makes all the difference.

6. The greatest gift a parent can give a child is a solid education to build upon throughout their life.  Education is one thing that can never be taken away from you. I admire the diverse group of committed parents who bring their children to Beaufort Academy.  Every family here is contributing to the future of their child.  I am also very pleased that the BA Board of Trustees builds financial assistance dollars into our annual budget, currently contributing the education of one-third of the students at BA. Our hope is that if BA is the right place for a child, than finances should not stand in the way.

7. The Beaufort area has been served by BA graduates for almost 50 years. I meet people all the time who tell me they went to BA, their parents went here, their neighbors, etc. Upon graduation they went away to college, and many came back to raise their families here in Beaufort. What a wonderful testament to the beauty and safety of this community.  We are all one big family, and in this day and age of the focus on safety, this is a magnificent thing.

8. Finally, I love the wonderful people I have met throughout these three years at BA — students,  alumni, parents of alumni, administrators, former teachers, potential parents who are waiting until their children are old enough to enter, students from all over the world who want to come to BA, and business leaders who support our endeavors.  Everyone has been so welcoming, so friendly, and so much a part of the fabric of BA.  I have been truly blessed by this opportunity.

Thank you for allowing me to share these parting thoughts with you. It has been a privilege and an honor to be here at BA. Now, the school is on to a new chapter with fabulous leadership and vision under Stephen Schools, who began his tenure July 1. Please stop by and meet him, I know you will be impressed!

Editor’s Note: This column originally ran in the June newsletter of the Lady’s Island Business Professionals Association.