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Fork Union Military Academy Receives $10.1 Million Cash Donation

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With it's largest enrollment in years (approximately 500 students), Fork Union Military Academy is beginning construction on a new dormitory for upper school students. To be named Jacobson Hall in honor of Jerry and Laura Jacobson of Sugarcreek, Ohio, the  three-story building- almost 100,000 square feet- will have 250 two-man rooms and be almost double the size of current facilities.

FUMA began fundraising appeals for the project back in September; by December, slow donations put the project into question. Then, the Jacobsons- parents of two FUMA students- made the largest ever cash contribution to the school, $10.1 million.

As Jerry Jacobson told the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

'It was just a heartfelt thing I wanted to do to help the future generations of young men in the country.  It was hopefully a building block to help keep Fork Union up and going for many years in the future."

I've always been a fan of promoting from within; it tells so much about an organization and its people. The Daily Progress published a story about Blue Ridge School's (St. George, VA) coming transition at the head's position. These transitions occur all the time. Blue Ridge's confidence, perspective and understanding make this one a worthy story.

Blue Ridge knows who they are, what they do, and, it seems, the faculty internalize the Blue Ridge way. The school announced that John O'Reilly, the school's assistant headmaster for academics will replace Dave Boulton at the end of the school year. His promotion is part of " a succession plan put together by the school's board and administrators to pick existing staff members for the right jobs."

As outgoing head, Mr. Bouton told the Daily Progress, "When you promote from within, you not only get people ready to hit the ground running, but you provide a sense of security. We're growing our own leaders."

"A Change of the Guard at Blue Ridge School"

Blue Ridge School is an independent, all-boys, all-boarding, college-preparatory school offering grades 9-12.
Today's Memphis Commercial Appeal includes an interesting story covering school single gender classrooms in the Memphis public school system. This article makes a good addition to the vigorous discussion surrounding single gender education.

Much like The Webb Schools, about which we've written, Memphis has seen learning and test score improvements since providing lower school (9th and 10th grades) boys and girls with their own spaces beginning in fall 2006.

Like Webb, Memphis bases their decision to offer single gender classrooms on the research of Dr. Leonard Sax who points out that single gender classrooms have historically been the province of private schools and those who can afford them. Dr. Sax argues single gender classrooms and their benefits should be a public school choice as well.

Moving to single gender classrooms is not without its risks.  As Dr. Sax told the Commercial Appeal:

"...simply putting girls in one room and boys in another accomplishes very little and can lead to disaster...One danger is reinforcing gender stereotypes by teaching algebra to girls based on shopping analogies or packing lessons for males with football.

  Not all boys like football. You end up disadvantaging children who don't fit the stereotype"
Effective single gender classrooms require thought, planning and understanding. The single gender classroom is a means, not an end.

Memphis is enjoying great success with the understanding and tool provided by the single gender means.

Our previous commentary on single gender education was prompted by a spirited exchange between Lenora M. Lapidus, Director & Emily J. Martin, Deputy Director of ACLU Women's Rights Project- New York and Meg Moulton, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Girls' Schools.

A Special Player Finds a Different Route to Stanford and NCAA BCS Football

Don't miss the Sports Illustrated story about Trinity Pawling School student Shayne Skov and the international route he's taking to Stanford football.

Suffice to say, the story begins in California, moves to Mexico, back to California, to New York, and back to California. Include international living, personal growth, academic ability, athleticism and the serendipitous connections between boarding school faculty members and you have quite a story.

Read about Shayne Skove journey in Sports Illustrated.
I recently came across an exchange between the authors of blog posts published in USA Today, Lenora M. Lapidus, Director & Emily J. Martin, Deputy Director of ACLU Women's Rights Project - New York and Meg Moulton, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Girls' Schools.

Ms. Moulton wrote a spirited defense of single gender education that focused more on science. My defense of single gender education will be simpler. Single gender education benefits some kids and not others. In my opinion, the benefits of single gender education depends on the student.

Lapidus and Martin argue in their short piece that the voices and choices of single gender education are driven by shoddy science, "hype," and the notion that "Sex differences are sexy." To some extent, they're right. Incomplete science makes it's way into the world and sometimes shouldn't be used to shape decisions.

But, the underlying assumption of their article is just plain wrong. They present and posit the relationship between incomplete science (coupled with social and popular hype) as a causal relationship. The ideas of boys and girls brain/developmental differences are in the public arena therefore a push for single gender education exists.

This is not a causal relationship. The authors miss the point here and the answer is simpler, disconnected from popular culture, and more complex at the same time.

Some students, boys and girls are more comfortable and may perform better in a single gender environment. The school environment choice grows out of what's best for this particular child. A coed environment or a single gender environment? Families and students may arrive at their school choice through an infinite number of avenues (assuming the student has a choice).

In the end, single gender education- like all school choice- is just a different way of going to school and where & how to go to school depends on what's best for each individual student.

There is no causal relationship behind choosing or, inherent evil in, single gender education. It is, simply, a different way of going to school.

Hillside School joins a growing roster of schools incorporating energy efficient green technology into their newest generation of buildings. The common thread among these schools is a growing dedication to environmental responsibility and stewardship.

Hillside's Academic and Health Center features "specially tinted glass to better manage solar heating throughout the building; the implementation of recycled materials in the center's flooring, ceiling tiles, window blinds and acoustic tiles; and the use of environmentally sound materials in the manufacture of classrooms, student desk and chairs and lab stools."

The building achieves even greater efficiency by using a geothermal energy system that pumps cool water, stored in wells below ground, throughout the building's piping system.  Additionally "green roof" technology allows for growing grasses and other greenery on the roof, which can further reduce heating and cooling needs.

"In many ways, the new Academic and Health Center is representative of Hillside's continuing growth and commitment toward achieving excellence in junior boarding school education."  Hillside Headmaster David Beecher explained.

You can read more about Hillside's Academic and Health Center in the Community Advocate (Westborough, MA).

Photo credit: Hillside School

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