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Perspectives: The Value of a BA Education

By Dr. Larry Pesch, Executive Director of Advancement

When discussing a school’s success, we often hear theorists talk about the importance of a strong school culture. Establishing values and beliefs that have the potential to create positive behaviors and actions are the foundation of a strong school culture.
The success of a Brookfield Academy education is due to a myriad of factors, including well-qualified and enthusiastic teachers, motivated students, supportive families, and high-quality facilities. However, underlying all these factors is the existence of a school culture that works quietly to support student success.  

Students at the Academy can succeed within an environment that emphasizes qualities essential to achievement. Whether those qualities are small behaviors, such as being on time or meeting deadlines, or larger ones, such as setting long-term goals and putting together a plan to realize those goals -- school culture can either support or squash one’s attitude or spirit. In the case of Brookfield Academy, students are surrounded by people who adhere to the same values and beliefs. This positively impacts the academic and extracurricular programs and the entire school environment.    

While it is not easily quantifiable, culture acts as a powerful force exerting a strong influence over all associated with it. The existence of such a culture certainly contributes greatly to the successful BA educational experience.

In 1992, William Beye Smeeth, Brookfield Academy’s first head of school, in response to a request from Dr. Nyle Kardatzke, our second head of school, wrote a letter detailing the thought behind the establishment of BA’s cherished Five Stars of the Academy: Intellect, Heritage, Truth, Individuality, and Character. In this letter, Mr. Smeeth detailed the intent and meaning underlying each of the Stars. In sum, he believed deeply that the Five Stars would be the inspirational foundation upon which the Academy’s culture would be built, exerting a powerful influence over the actions of our students, teachers, and families. 

Since the founding of Brookfield Academy nearly 60 years ago, families have continued to choose the BA educational journey for many reasons. Quietly underlying all these reasons is the value and purpose embodied by the Five Stars. The Stars have given profound meaning to the Academy Mission to “graduate students prepared for college and life, educated in the skills, values, and heritage of responsible, constructive, free people

We suspect Mr. Smeeth would be bursting with pride to know BA remains a school dedicated to keeping the “lamp of learning brilliantly lit.” He further explained, “with the young, each day sparks with sudden flares of knowing -- his ‘lamp of learning’ has a bottomless fuel supply.”

We invited several of our alumni to share personal perspectives about their educational journeys at Brookfield Academy:

Caitlin Connor, Class of 2019 (excerpted from her Valedictorian speech)
Some of us were around since we recited phonics rules, mastered number bonds, and learned to write in cursive on the chalkboard. Others of us arrived at BA later, when we were introduced to noun declensions and verb conjugations in our first Latin class in seventh grade. Still, others came onboard when we participated in the Dig in Western Civ 1 and learned how to write proper research papers freshman year. Each person brought their own individual assets as our class morphed and changed over the years, contributing to our grade in his or her own unique way. We have so much to be thankful for. At Brookfield Academy, we were fortunate to have access to a great education that has most definitely “prepared us for college and life,” thanks, most especially, to our dedicated and supportive teachers and administrators. They guided us, inspired us, challenged us, and related to us. We left Brookfield Academy equipped with the tools necessary to tackle life with an open and educated mind. We read books of all genres and styles, experimented with different theories and ideas, and consistently were challenged to step out of the confines of our comfort zones. 

On top of all of the valuable skills and information we learned in the classroom, we learned a lot about being part of a community. We proudly showed our school spirit in all places at all times, supporting one another on the fields, in the theater, on the court, and in the classroom. Not only did we have athletic stars and dedicated thespians; we also had talented artists, gifted musicians, and wicked fast Certamen players. We learned how to delegate and share, but also how to take responsibility for our mistakes. The future is exciting and a little daunting, but BA students count on character to do the right thing; our individuality to show who we are; that even though it’s hard, truth always seems to be the right way to do things; that intellect is not something to apologize for; and we realize how proud we are of our heritage coming from BA.

Alejandra Selinas-Reyes, Class of 2017
The education I received at Brookfield Academy was the education that my parents worked hard to provide for me, in hope of a better future. When my parents immigrated into this country, their sole goal was to provide a better life for their family. Now, my younger brother and I are living this out through our academic, professional, and personal journeys.
Brookfield Academy’s education continues to play a key role in my journey. When I attended BA, I was introduced to a wide range of classes that helped me become a well-rounded person. The professors at BA truly believed in me and challenged me to be the best version of myself. My peers became my second family and to this day, they continue to support and encourage me. 
But, most importantly, BA prepared me for the next chapter in my life: college. To my family, college was an unknown territory, yet BA helped me and my family enter this unknown territory with confidence and continue to live out the goal my parents had when they came to this country.
Ty Loomis, Class of 1989, BA Parent 
I spent 10 years of my childhood growing up at BA in the ’80s. I got the behind-the-scenes view of Level A, having watched my mom teach there for nearly 20 years. Our kids have been attending BA since 2014, and so far, two have graduated from BA. What we value hasn’t changed much over the years. 
First, the support is spectacular. Our kids have felt loved and supported by the teachers and staff inside and outside the classroom. 
Second, we value the size of the school. Brookfield Academy isn’t so small that it doesn’t have much to offer outside the classroom, and it isn’t so large that students get lost. 
Third, we value the standard of excellence at BA. When the coronavirus hit, we knew the kids would be in good hands;  the staff and administration worked hard to offer some alternatives. The transition was nearly seamless whether it was schooling at home in the spring, graduation in July, or the start of the 2020 school year this fall. 
This is the excellence we have come to know and love at BA.
Learn more about the value of choosing a private, independent school for your child’s educational journey. More information here.
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