From the moment the balloons revealed that we would be adding a boy to our family, my heart skipped a beat and my mind raced with doubt. At that point, I only knew parenting in the form of a toddler girl whose main goal in life was to collect as many stuffed animals and baby dolls as she could. Trying to predict a boy’s influence to his sister and parents before he even made his Earthly debut was about as hard as trying to get an elephant to climb a tree. Gathering as many resources and tools as I could to prepare a two year old for the newness of not only a sibling, but one that probably wouldn’t wear the cupcake and princess outfits she donned as an infant, was my motivation to prepare our hearts and home for all the sweetness and goodness that stems from a baby boy.
Fast forward many years and countless learning curves later, the same little brother was quickly approaching his turn at a school experience, better known as Pre-K. With his older sister well rooted in her school environment, it was finally his turn to shine in a setting that knows and loves the heart, soul, and mind of a boy. This is not to say that her academic institution wouldn’t rise to the occasion of teaching to the boy brain (and I truly believe they do), but I could not pass up the opportunity for my youngest child to step out in his own shoes, surrounded by all boys.
For some parents, choosing a same-sex learning environment is not an easy decision. Questions may range anywhere from how will the absence of one gender influence the classroom atmosphere to will my child grow tired of the same sex settings, year after year? While it is of utmost importance for parents to regard, weigh, and take every detail into consideration, I found the treasures lie in the everyday elements that make a particular all boys school an extraordinary find.
San Antonio Academy is nothing short of spectacular. Some may boast of its historical presence in the Alamo City (dating back to 1886), many take note of the leadership positions the boys hold well beyond their Academy years, and others continue to be impressed with the boy as a whole, table manners and all. From learning sportsmanship in P.E. and athletics, to identifying composers and their compositions in music, to experimenting with the color wheel in art and tackling a new language in Spanish, the fine arts and physical parts of boys bodies and brains are strengthened on a daily basis. How lucky for us as parents to be reminded of the influences of Picasso, the works of Beethoven, the importance of working as team, and then the translation of those instructions in a foreign language.
The day to day academics are tailored to fit how boys learn in the classroom. Beginning with the smaller class size that allows not only for maximum learning to take place, but for each boy to have individualized instruction. With all boys in mind, that instruction comes in a myriad of ways and methods. I once witnessed boys jumping through hula hoops while counting by twos, while another group took to creating their footbridges whose pieces contained multiples of 5’s. Dramatic role playing showcased the use of puppets and the boys’ understanding of story elements. Each science lesson brings experiments to life that leaves the boys in awe and yearning for more while the social studies and history lessons take them places far beyond the books. The younger boys are introduced to the world of phonics, and quickly become believers of the intricate sounds that make up our words when they are independent readers and proficient writers. The philosophy of learning and the high caliber of teaching sets a San Antonio Academy education apart from other institutions and becomes a foundation for other aspects of life to be built upon.
Seeing my little boy run to his teachers in the morning and hug them at the end of the day should be all that I need to stand firm and confident in my school choice. However, that wouldn’t be a full SAA day if the warm fuzzies ended there. The experience comes with the theme of brotherhood ringing from the rafters when the “big boys” high five the younger ones after daily chapel; when the 7th graders find their buddies that they were paired with since Pre-K and run alongside them in the annual 1st Grade Bike Race; when their outdoor skills are put to the test to prove that there is no “I” in TEAM; and for the times when a classmate is hurting and needs the helping hand of a brother to see him through the end of a tough week.
These, among other experiences, are seen and understood by those entrusted to the care of our boys. The ones who carry out the mission, values, and principles that are mere extensions of our familiar unit. The ones who don’t bat an eyelash at the Pre-K mom tearing up in the car at first time drop off. The ones that cannot be prouder to stand and cheer for your son’s success. The ones who listen and take to heart the concerns you have as the parent, all the while reassuring you that throughout his great educational journey, they have your son’s best interest at heart. Finally, they are the ones whom you spot, through the Bondurant Gate during Commencement, who are secretly wiping a tear from their eyes for the young man your little boy has become.