Mission and Philosophy
We specifically focus on helping boys reach their potential through personalized, structured, innovative learning practices in a college-preparatory, all-boarding community.
The Blue Ridge School faculty believe that:
- A structured, systematic approach to learning, which emphasizes study skills, time management skills, and organization skills, and which provides time and resources for help and improvement, will motivate young men to try to achieve, and to prepare for the challenges of adulthood.
- An all-male, all-boarding environment facilitates bonding and focuses on learning and developing leadership skills with minimal distractions.
- A regular program for worship and/or reflection promotes spiritual and moral awareness and growth.
- The educational program should be student-centered; that students should be active participants in the learning and assessment process; that students are responsible for their learning.
- The most important role for our faculty and staff is to serve as advisors or surrogate parents for the boys. The advisor-student relationship sets the tone for participation in, appreciation of, and buy-in to the total Blue Ridge experience.
- Our Code of Conduct is the linchpin and ethical compass upon which Blue Ridge stands.
- Residence life is the centerpiece around which every other aspect of the Blue Ridge experience revolves. The human dimension and quality of life surrounding each boy’s personal space determine how disposed he is to learning and wanting to be a member of our community. Communal life provides fertile ground for learning responsible decision making, organizing time, developing skills in empathy and acceptance of differences, and becoming team players.
- A comprehensive co-curricular program is an essential part of the learning and growth experience. Sports, the arts, clubs, service learning, outdoor programs and social activities are all valuable vehicles for developing the unique array of gifts and/or interests that are part of every young man. Such programs build self-esteem and foster an appreciation for and development of skills in leadership and teamwork.
We work to move the Blue Ridge Boy through this continuum of beliefs:
I can complete this learning task. I will complete this learning task even if it is so late it does not count for much, because it is worth my time to learn this material and it is my responsibility to do so. I will not give up.
- I can work to complete this learning task well. I will not give minimal or thoughtless answers.
- I can plan ahead and ask for help before the deadline so that I can complete the learning task well and on time. I can be a stronger self-advocate.
- I can independently complete this learning task well and on time and I can connect what I am learning now to prior learning.
- I can be assigned a broadly defined learning task and be left to do it well so that I may learn from it and help others to learn from it.
To help our students reach the highest level of belief and achieve the learning and character objectives we have set for them, our faculty are committed to:
- Researching, sharing, and implementing teaching and assessment practices that have been shown to work well with boys. Documents we already share with each other include:
- A booklet developed by BRS faculty entitled “Teaching Boys: A Desktop Reference for the Faculty of Blue Ridge School”
- The boy-friendly lesson plan template
- A one-page summary of best practices entitled “When Teaching Boys”
- In addition, BRS faculty are frequent participants in the annual conferences of The International Boys’ Schools Coalition; boys’ education is always a major element of faculty summer reading and in-service work; and local experts on boys’ education provide us feedback and guidance on our curriculum and instruction.
- Maintaining a structured, supportive, and responsive learning environment not only in our classrooms but in our evening study halls and co-curricular programs.
- Frequently checking for understanding, using one-question quizzes, brief discussions, think-pair-share, or exit cards to gauge which concepts and skills are mastered and which need further review.
- Taking time to model and discuss study skills, time management skills, and organizational skills in all of our classes to provide the boys a chance to develop a skill set that will lead them toward success in college and in their chosen careers.
- Recognizing that while our boys often learn best from non-traditional methods of instruction, much of the world they encounter is still dominated by text-based material (books/lectures/notes/blogs). In response, we create an intentional mix of non-traditional and traditional methods of instruction to ensure our boys become skilled, analytical, and critical consumers of information in all its forms.
- Taking advantage of Meeting Periods and evening study halls to provide extra help to the boys outside the classroom several times a week.
- Never giving up on the boy – encouraging (and when necessary nagging, nudging, and pushing) him toward improved achievement so that he begins to make the connection between sustained hard work and eventual success.
The support that our son received from Blue Ridge School was breathtaking. The teachers cared for Darryl as if he was their own son. They all did a great job preparing him for the real world. I thank them all for bringing out the best in him. - Marsha Smith (Darryl ’13, graduated from Cornell University.)