Ryan Banks Academy is an independent and coeducational college-preparatory, residential, tuition-free middle and high school that will prepare motivated students from Chicago neighborhoods to graduate from college, enter into meaningful careers, and be the catalyst to bring positive change into their communities.
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Boarding School Education Made Me Who I Am
  2017-03-16  Valerie Groth  Uncategorized

Boarding school education made me who I am - it taught me to be fiercely independent, endlessly curious, extremely driven, and occasionally (when warranted!) stubborn. I left a tumultuous home life and fear of the unknown when I went to boarding school, believing the time to explore myself and my academic limits would teach me the tools I needed for success not only in school but also for my future.

    I wasn’t wrong. But, I was privileged. Despite the uncertainty and tumult in my home life, I came from an affluent family with the means to fulfill my request to leave traditional high school and attend a boarding school. I came from parents who believed strongly in quality education and the importance of self-sufficience. I came from a community that while my decision to decamp to the North woods was surprising, it wasn’t met with any real hesitance outside of who would make sure I’d shower. Ten years after my graduation, I’m even more acutely aware of the place of privilege that allowed my choice to attend a boarding school. Boarding school made me who I am, and I believe with the same level of passion I have for my experience there, that privilege should not be the defining factor for those attending a high quality boarding education like I did.

    Upon hearing about Val’s ambition to start Ryan Banks Academy, I knew instantly I wanted to be involved in some capacity. She had found a way to articulate what I only knew instinctively - high quality boarding education with an emphasis on every student’s unique version of success should not be only available to those who can pay for it. Her mission was rooted in heart and soul as well as practical, tangible goals for educating the next generation and those who are most vulnerable.

    The more Val and I spoke the more excited I became about RBA’s mission; it’s commitment to the highest quality curriculum, serving those who the traditional school system deem high risk, creating futures for those who have been told throughout their educational career there isn’t one. I am uniquely positioned as a supporter of RBA, knowing both what was done well and what was done poorly from my boarding school experience, and endeavoring to be an agent of change to see Val’s vision through to reality.

        I am so happy to have the opportunity to use my skills and excitement as a member of the Ryan Banks Academy Board of Directors. As a collaborative team player and spontaneous motivator I look to my fellow members for ideas and hope to aid in bringing them to fruition. RBA currently holds an extremely unique position in the overall education climate - a position to lift a generation of learners to their own future successes, using Ryan Banks Academy as their launching point. I am honored to be a part of it!