It Takes a Vision and a Village: Growing Blanco River Academy Middle School
It takes a vision and a village to bootstrap a private middle school. That’s exactly what the founders of Blanco River Academy have been doing since 2014. Blanco River Academy, or BRAc, as its families call it, was organized by parents interested in continuing an evidenced based and well-rounded curriculum for their kids. The majority of these students matriculated from St. Stephens Episcopal School’s 6th grade program. In 2017, the charter class of Blanco River Academy graduated and went on to three different area high schools where they just completed an enormously successful first year as freshmen.
From its inception, BRAc has specialized in differentiated, hands-on, evidence-based learning. The low student-to-teacher ratio and experiential learning sets the school apart. BRAc intentionally uses the TEKS as minimal learning objectives and employees only one standardized test each year, the Stanford 10. This test is used strictly to evaluate how students are doing as a group and individually in order to make adjustments in instruction as needed. Critical thinking and self-expression are encouraged, and service, community, and character are emphasized in the curriculum. BRAc purposefully sets tuition much lower than other independent schools in the area in order to remain accessible to all who wish to have smaller classes and a more individualized learning experience. And new for this year, BRAc will be offering limited tuition assistance.
At the close of this past school year, the founders were faced with some new challenges and new opportunities. Starting in Fall 2018, Blanco River Academy will include 6th through 8th grades and has relocated their campus to The Oaks at Blue Hole. Grateful to have had a space to start at the beautiful St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and School Campus, the School is looking forward to being fully situated within the community of Wimberley.
Aside from privately paid tuition, Blanco River Academy embarks upon a few select fundraisers per year in order to cover operating expenses. Their largest and most successful event is their annual Blanco River Songwriters Festival. This year’s event was held on April 29th at the iconic Fischer Dance Hall. The lineup featured local favorites like Susan Gibson and Jimmy Davis as well as Tip Jar who joined us all the way from The Netherlands! Well-known icons Emily Gimble and Johnny Nicholas rounded out the show. Blanco River Songwriters Festival is truly a family friendly event and the entertainment is exceptional! Stay tuned for the next festival, happening in Fischer late Spring 2019.
Coming up on December 2nd, the school will host their 3rd annual Winter Craft WORKshop at the Wimberley Community Center. Attendees enjoy a day of crafting and fellowship as families and friends create high-quality holiday decorations and gifts such as handmade soaps, ornaments, handcarved walking sticks, gnome dolls and more. Mark your calendars for this fun event!
Financially, these fundraisers are a big success and account for one sixth of BRAc’s annual budget. Planning is already underway for this year’s events and like any great fundraiser, sponsors and volunteers are always welcome!
To learn more about the Blanco River Academy curriculum and community, go to blancoriveracademy.org. Enrollment for Fall 2018 is underway now.
NOTICE OF NONDISCRIMINATORY POLICY AS TO STUDENTS
The Blanco River Academy admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It doesn't discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.
Article published in the Wimberley View and the Dripping Springs Century-News, August 9, 2018