Ask An Academy Expert: Ed Ellison, pt. 1

Shedding light on the value added by an independent school experience, Cape Fear Academy’s Head of School Ed Ellison offers these thoughts in the first of a series of blogs presented by CFA and authored by several experts in their respective fields.

Ed Ellison, CFA Head of School
Ed Ellison, CFA Head of School

Value Added: Why Parents Choose Independent Schools, Part 1

Sometimes, I get asked why I decided to become a teacher in my late thirties, especially since I was “doing well” in business at that time. The short answer is simple: I was looking for something more. Namely a career that would give me the opportunity to do more and be more. In teaching, coaching and advising, I found exactly what I was looking for. I haven’t looked back.

Just as I was searching for my purpose all those years ago, parents are looking for something more when they consider an independent (not just “private”) school education for their children. With free options available, why invest in an alternative like CFA, as thousands have done for over 50 years? Because it’s about more than the numbers (whether referring to affordability, class size, or SAT scores); it’s also about the irreplaceable experiences and the undeniable independent school outcomes. Time after time, alumni recall with fondness the benefits they enjoyed  — experiences and outcomes rooted in a focus on academic excellence, personal opportunity, strong character, and a caring community. This is what students embrace and value, and why parents invest in this irreplaceable experience for their children.

At Cape Fear Academy, one way we offer proven value and benefits is through a dynamic  educational program that integrates arts, athletics and wellness, and languages — both spoken and technological — as co-curricular, not as budget-expendable extra-curriculars. Precisely because we are an independent school, we have the freedom to choose, modify, and implement the best-researched curricula and the most-effective instructional methods. Moreover, our school size and our academic independence provide us with the flexibility and nimbleness to adjust quickly and respond to those who make up our vibrant learning community — the adult professionals and the student peers  —  while doing all this in a place strategically designed to optimize learning and personal growth.In independent schools like ours, talented faculty and staff must have both the skills and mindset suited to the ethos of a school community where adults of character are not only subject experts but also mentors, coaches and models of lifelong learning. In a similar way, student and parent cohorts from backgrounds diverse in culture, abilities, and interests inspire each other because they believe in a common mission  — discovering and developing individual potential and preparing for success in college and life  — as well as in the shared principles of excellence, opportunity, character and community. Surrounded by inspiring teachers and peers and nestled in our secure environment, students benefit from low student-to-teacher ratios. These factors, in turn, allow for personalization and depth of instruction in a setting where students can be known, loved, and challenged. What greater value could a parent hope for?