Photo above: Dr. Dan Durbin was the principal at Beaufort High School before being named headmaster at Beaufort Academy. Prior to that, in Evansville, Ind., he was appointed as the managing director of the Signature Learning Center. That school has since been recognized as one of the most successful charter schools in the United States. Durbin is married to Angela Durbin and they have three children. Photo by Bob Sofaly.
By Aileen Goldstein
Beaufort Academy’s first day of the new school year, Thursday, Aug. 17, is quickly approaching. And along with a new year, this school’s long history will be revitalized with new leadership — in more ways than one.
Beaufort Academy, known simply as BA, welcomed a new headmaster last spring, Dr. Dan Durbin. He will begin his first full academic year at the school with the 2017-2018 year.
According to Durbin, “both Beaufort Academy and I are old relics.”
There is a noticeable twinkle in Durbin’s eyes as he talks about the changes that will be happening on BA’s campus this year.
“Now our focus is preparing leaders for tomorrow,” he says. This direction came when he questioned what makes Beaufort Academy different from every other school. And while all schools prepare students for the future, for college and for life in general, the question Durbin came back to each time is, “Why BA?”
According to Durbin, leadership will be the backbone of the curriculum and the essence of the entire school.
Teachers will participate in training upon their return to begin incorporating a leadership focus into every level of the curriculum. The largest focus will be throughout the higher grades and will include four years of core classes for high school students.
The first of these classes will be a Fundamentals of Communication and Leadership for ninth graders. This class will focus on thinking critically and developing persuasive skills and will include a wilderness team- building activity in late winter.
Sophomores will learn about ethics and values and visit the capitol for hands on experiences. Juniors will be focus on community leadership and will complete a community service project.
Finally, seniors will be matched up with a mentor in the community and complete a year-long internship that will cumulate with a senior project pertaining to the experiences acquired throughout the internship.
In addition to the core leadership courses required, students will also have the opportunity to take advantage of new electives offered this year.
A new vocal music program, lead by Vic Varner, will be available this year. The school will also offer a Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program and an international studies and leadership class.
As for changes to the campus, construction is set to begin in January to add a performing arts stage to the gym.
“We want to make sure our art students feel as honored as our athletes,” says Durbin.
The addition will also incorporate a hall of fame to highlight the important contributions alumni of Beaufort Academy have made throughout the years.
Students can also expect the daily schedule to be different this year. Durbin says the school will use a block system that will include alternating days of classes for students.
According to Durbin, students will also have more of a voice this year through a student advisory committee. This committee, alongside a parent advisory committee, will allow and encourage site-based decisions.
The community will also be able to take part in the changes happening at Beaufort Academy.
The school will offer multiple community programs beginning this year, including after-school programs for students and continuing education classes for adults.
Local children will be invited participate in a new sports development program, in addition to a variety of theater, music and art programs.
Adults in the area will be able to take advantage of six weeklong classes that will be offered at the school on a wide variety of subjects taught by local members of the community.
Durbin’s excitement about the upcoming school year is palpable, his love of kids is obvious and his eagerness to begin is evident.
Durbin sums up his entire philosophy with this: “We figure out what is best for our students, what will give them the best advantage, and then use that to develop our program.”
According to Durbin, Beaufort Academy is committed to one thing: developing leaders.
About Beaufort Academy
Beaufort Academy is a coeducational independent college preparatory school of 250 students in grades pre-K through 12.
It is governed by a Board of Trustees whose members represent the various constituencies of the school, as well as the community.
Beaufort Academy is an independent, nonprofit, Judeo-Christian school, which admits students of all races, nationalities, creeds and socioeconomic backgrounds.
The campus sits on 24 acres on Lady’s Island.
Average class size is 16 with a student-faculty ratio of 7 to 1. More than 50 percent of the faculty holds advanced degrees.
In each of the last five years students have received combined college scholarship offers in excess of $1.5 million per year; 100 percent of its graduates are accepted by four-year colleges and universities.
Call 843-524-3393 or visit www.beaufortacademy.org.