A Few Good Men 7

Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders

The sun shines clear and bright on the well-manicured lawn as young men in crisp uniforms take purposeful strides toward classrooms dotting the sprawling campus by the sea. Cadet Gianromano Piconi readies for his first visitor tour of the day, but not the first he has hosted as a senior at the storied institution that is the Army and Navy Academy (ANA). Founded in 1910, this is a college preparatory, military boarding and day school for boys, grades 7-12. The school was established at its current 16.5-acre beachfront location in Carlsbad in 1936. While known for its JROTC program and strong athletic focus, it is the Academy’s designation as a Gurian Institute Model School, and one of only ten in the nation, that sets it a class apart.

Schooling the next generation of young men – 
The Gurian Initiative

“We understand how boys think and adapt teaching and learning according to this model. Students don’t “fall through the cracks” because we have a community committed to strong academic support systems including: tutorial period, homework tracking, mandatory study time, and full college planning services,” says Dr. Lisa Basista, Dean of Academics. She is referring to the Gurian method – an interdisciplinary, team-based approach to working with Cadets and to classroom practices that are developed with boys in mind. Through their partnership with the Gurian Institute, teachers are highly trained in classroom practices that are effective for boys, and proven through research. This includes hands-on learning experiences, competition, and movement in the classroom.

By examining CAT and PET Scans of both male and female brains, scientists have identified several differences that may impact learning. Social researcher and best-selling author Michael Gurian, founder of the Gurian Institute, explains that these brain-based differences help explain why boys learn better when physical movement is incorporated into learning activities or require sensory experiences in order to learn well. ANA targets the unique learning needs of boys and creates meaningful learning experiences that keep them engaged.

A case for single gender education – and the science to prove it

“Single gender education has been practiced for 106 years at Army Navy Academy but now there is the science behind it and a better feel for why it works – the importance and understanding of different learning styles by gender helps enhance the learning experience,” says MG Arthur Bartell (US Army Retired) President of ANA. Calling it the Warrior Way, he stresses the critical thinking, problem solving and writing skills taught to help the young men that enroll here to be successful, not only on campus, but in life outside of this educational institution.

As a boys’ military boarding school, academic life inside the classroom and Cadet life outside the classroom affect the overall experience at ANA. What other boys’ schools lack are the boarding and military components of the program, which provide additional avenues for leadership and character development. Research shows that boys are relational learners and the boarding environment gives them the opportunity to learn from positive role models and mentors across campus. The military structure is the vehicle through which good character and leadership in Cadets is developed.

People and programs inspiring 
leadership and learning

“When it comes to Cadet life, yes, there is the JROTC – the military side, the uniforms, the ceremony, but one of the highlights is our TAC officers,” says COL Wayne Ward (USMC Retired), Commandant of Cadets. “They are the trainer, advisor, and counselor – who act as mentor role models – the father or dad away from home teaching our boys life skills. They usually manage 30-40 Cadets daily.”

ANA also offers summer programs inspiring young men and women to learn, lead, and grow. Camp Challenge Leadership Camps are co-ed camps held in July offered over a 2- or 4-week period for JROTC Leadership, middle school and high school grades, accounting for almost 200 attendees on campus altogether at any given time. This experience is offered outside of the school year and structure, and serves as a way for prospective Cadets to determine if they are interested in attending during the academic year.

MG Bartell succinctly expresses the exceptional opportunity for exceptional young men that ANA symbolizes, “Ultimately everything we do is to support our Cadets. The passion here is palpable. We truly believe there is a need for what we provide – education, character, and leadership. Each Cadet epitomizes what we strive to produce here – a confident young man of character who is a leader.”