The “value-added” in boarding school
When King’s Academy opened its doors in 2007, many Jordanian parents were skeptical of the boarding aspect of the school. They thought boarding was appropriate only for international students who had no other choice, and they were reluctant to send their own children as boarders, preferring to have them attend as day students.
Now, 10 years later, that situation has changed, and local parents are enrolling their children as boarding students in great numbers. Of the 660 girls and boys attending King’s Academy in 2017-2018 from over 40 countries, 70 percent are boarders for whom the school is home. Of those, 57 percent are Jordanian. King’s Academy explains why there is so much added value in the school’s residential life program, and why parents are keen to buy in.
King’s Academy believes that boarding school is an ideal way for teenage students to optimize both their academic learning and their social development. Maturity, confidence, lifelong friendships and an understanding of others are all the outgrowth of the boarding school experience, and there are many ways that the school seeks to help its students achieve this.
“To start with, every student is assigned an advisor who acts as the point person for families and students to work through all kinds of academic, social, physical, and family issues,” says Deputy Headmaster and Dean of Students Julianne Puente. “Our teachers provide almost a ‘pastoral’ care, and feel more responsible and connected to their students.”
At King’s Academy, all students are assigned to a residential house, or dorm, where they learn to live alongside others with different backgrounds, viewpoints and interests, and to understand and respect their differences.
Boarding students use their extra time on campus to pursue their passions and participate in more activities; they also interact more with their teachers, receiving additional academic and moral support. Jordanian students also have the option to spend time with their families over the weekend, while making the most of the school’s residential life program during the week.
According to The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), there are various advantages to boarding school life: the promise of better education; the ability to participate in more extracurricular activities; the ability to lead by cultivating self-discipline and independent thought; and better preparation for college through mentor guidance and greater personal responsibility.
King’s boarders tend to report having a more meaningful experience than day students, are more invested in their academics and feel more connected to their school, teachers and peers, says Puente.
At King’s, teachers do not disappear when the bell rings at the end of the day. They live on campus and in the dorms; their doors are open seven days a week. This provides an environment in which teachers can be mentors; and as mentors, they have the potential to change a student’s life. They can give students the confidence to reach higher than they ever thought they could.
“I would never have had the courage to study in New York City if I hadn’t gone to King’s,” says Zarqa native Omaymah Harahsheh ’14, who attended a Jordanian military school before joining King’s in 9th grade as a boarding student. A graduate of the Class of 2014, Harahsheh now studies at Barnard College. Recalling the person she was before enrolling at King’s, she says, “The school not only taught me that I had a chance of getting accepted into Barnard, but it also taught me confidence, courage and independence.”
In the words of English teacher Lilli Audeh: “As teachers, our role is not to simply teach students a subject or the skills attached to that subject. We need to teach them life.”