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June/July 2007

Brandon Hall School
Where Students Meet Their Full Potential
by Margaret Tate

Sometimes students who need extra help are the ones least likely to get it. Whether they have dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or have simply fallen behind, they hide out in the back row hoping the teacher won’t single them out for attention. But at Brandon Hall School, as Headmaster Paul Stockhammer says, “There are no back rows.” For students at this private college-prep school, individual attention is the rule, not the exception. With class sizes averaging four to five students and with one-to-one teaching, the emphasis is on multi-sensory instruction, structure and accountability.

Located in Dunwoody on a beautiful 27-acre wooded campus, Brandon Hall is an accredited, nonprofit, nonsectarian, co-educational school for grades four through 12, with five- and seven-day boarding options for boys only. The school currently enrolls 135 diverse students from 15 states and 10 countries, with boarders constituting about one-half of the population. The rest are day students who come from all over the Metro Atlanta area. Students may enroll at any time during the school year.

The school’s motto is ad renovandum ac florendum, which means “to begin anew and to flourish.” For many students who are not meeting their potential, Stockhammer says, Brandon Hall is a chance to start over. “There’s not another school like us really,” he says. “There are schools where you might go in and get some tutoring, but here, it’s intensive care, not a Band-Aid approach. That’s especially good for teenagers who may think, ‘If I don’t do well or I fail, I’ll never be able to do it.’ But here, we give them a chance to do it.”

To make sure that students stay on task and on track, homework is graded daily, frequent quizzes are a given and parents are emailed weekly. In addition to a full academic program, including English as a second language for international students, the school offers nine different sports along with art, music and drama.

Despite its focus on helping students work through challenges, Brandon Hall is not for mentally challenged students or those with severe behavior problems. “All of our students are average to above average IQ,” Stockhammer says, “so a student who’s not college material would be best served in another school.” Each student must be accepted to a college to graduate, Stockhammer says. “Even if you’ve made straight As and taken every course, you won’t get a diploma unless you’ve been accepted to a college.”

Brandon Hall does not water down the curriculum, Stockhammer stresses, but for students who have learning disabilities, the school teaches compensatory skills and makes arrangements for accommodations. “For example,” he says, “one of our seniors had a 35 on the ACT—36 is a perfect score—but he also had accommodations. He got the extended time he needed for his test.”

Some students come to Brandon Hall for a “jolt of intensive care to turn them around,” Stockhammer says. “Others come and stay.” He acknowledges that the school is expensive. “But what you get for that is an experienced, well-qualified faculty and very small classrooms. I could lower tuition if I put 15 in a class, but our focus is on quality.”

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