Many families know about boarding school, but they assume that this option is available only to students in grades 9 through 12. Junior boarding schools like Fay, where we have approximately 150 boarders in grades 7-9, offer younger students a boarding school experience tailored to their developmental needs that lays a broad foundation for the next steps in their educational journey.
1. A balanced approach
Many junior boarding schools employ a “whole-child” approach that addresses every aspect of student development, from classroom learning to physical and emotional well-being. Here at Fay, we focus on helping students learn how to be good students and good people
: the academic curriculum is complemented by daily participation on athletic teams, music and art classes, opportunities to lead
in community service and student government, and after-school clubs that include robotics, the student newspaper, songwriting, and contest math. Balance is a focus of the program. For example, personal cell phones are locked away for most of each day, and boarding students turn in their technology each evening so that they can fully immerse themselves in school life (and get a good night’s sleep!) without digital distractions.
2. Innovative curriculum and new perspectives
Junior boarding schools have the advantage of being able to design and implement a curriculum that challenges and inspires their students. In small classes, students learn to explore ideas from different perspectives, think critically, and develop their own interpretations of the material. Here at Fay, for example, our ninth graders have the opportunity to take unique electives like Diagnosing the Modern World
, a combined science and history class where students explore current issues such as global access to food and water from both historical and scientific perspectives. Our Upper School students find their voice in the annual Speech Competition, where each student writes and delivers a speech on a topic that is personally meaningful to them.
3. A diverse student population
Students who attend junior boarding schools learn side-by-side with students and teachers from a wide range of ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. At Fay, our boarding students come from 23 countries
and 15 states across the United States. Our students have regular opportunities to participate in meaningful conversations about identity through our Community Connections program. Beloved school traditions
like Taste of Nations give our students ways to celebrate the range of cultures in our community. Being part of an authentically diverse community at an early age helps children develop the empathy and understanding they will need to be part of an increasingly global society.
4. A Web of Support
At a junior boarding school, living on campus provides the bonus of allowing students to build meaningful connections with teachers, who also serve as their coaches, dorm parents, and advisors. Seventy-six percent of the faculty at Fay School hold master’s degrees in teaching or their subject area, and many are published authors and experts in their fields
. Furthermore, they are middle school experts and know how to support and nurture adolescents’ developmental needs.
5. Growing Independence
The junior boarding experience helps students become more responsible, well-organized, and independent with the support and supervision of dedicated dorm parents
and advisors. At Fay, our boarders rise to the challenges of living away from home. When they move on to secondary school, they often find that the self-reliance, independence, and confidence that they developed here makes them better equipped to thrive in a high school boarding community than their peers.
6. Weekend Fun!
There’s nothing boring about weekends at a junior boarding school. At Fay, our Residential Life Coordinator plans weekend activities on and off campus that take advantage of our proximity to Boston and our beautiful surroundings in rural New England. Whether students want to see a play in Boston, catch a New England Revolution soccer game, watch a movie, bake cookies, or spend the evening in the Art Studio with friends, there are plenty of options to choose from. Read more about our weekend programs here.
7. Expert secondary school counselors
After attending junior boarding school, many students go on to enroll in top secondary schools. The opportunity to expand their athletic and extracurricular talents, grow and learn in a multicultural environment, explore leadership opportunities, and develop strong academic skills make junior boarding students compelling candidates for selective secondary schools. At Fay, our dedicated team of four secondary school counselors works closely with parents to help them find schools that are a good match for their child. Our counselors also guide students as they write their applications and help them prepare for the all-important secondary school interview. (You can see the list of where our students attend secondary school here
The ultimate goal of any parent is to prepare his or her child for success, no matter what form that journey may take. Choosing to send your child to a top junior boarding school can be the perfect first step.