Hudson Valley Private Schools

Discover all the unique educational opportunities the Valley has to offer with this comprehensive guide to the region’s private schools



(page 6 of 7)

A structured environment that fosters leadership skills

NEW YORK MILITARY ACADEMY

People have many misconceptions about a military school education, says Major Jeffrey Coverdale, superintendent of New York Military Academy in Cornwall-on-Hudson. “Parents call all the time and say, ‘My son or daughter wants to come to the school, but I’m not ready for them to go into the military.’ Actually, only about 13 percent of our students go on to military service, either through a service academy or on an ROTC scholarship.”

The day and boarding school’s primary focus is on college prep for its grade seven-through-12 students, he says. “We’re essentially doing that in a military-structured environment. The bulk of our kids are aiming to get into top-tier colleges, and many receive major scholarships.”

That helps dispel another common misconception: that academies like NYMA are full of unruly kids who have been “sent away to military school.” Explains Coverdale: “We go to a lot of school fairs, and sometimes we hear parents say to kids as they pass by our booth, ‘See, if you don’t get your act together, that’s where you’re going to school!’ But the truth is, if you don’t get your act together, you can’t come to this school — we don’t take discipline problems.”

“The military structure and tradition really helps students with organizational skills, time management, and responsibility,” adds Director of Admissions Alisa Southwell. The school implemented a new, expanded college curriculum during the 2010 school year. “Academically, we’re teaching at honors level or above,” she says.

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The academy’s students — last year they came from 10 states and six different countries — take a full roster of classes and participate in athletics and community service programs. And a brand-new “tracks of intention” program allows cadets to focus on specialized subjects, ranging from classical studies to research and green technology.

“The military structure means that students follow a very regimented schedule,” says Southwell. “Cadets know what they’ll be doing on a daily basis.” That begins with six a.m. wake-up and ends with lights out at 10 p.m.

What makes NYMA different from other private schools, Coverdale adds, “is that we’re a real-life leadership lab. Not only do we focus on subjects that make students academically strong, but with the military structure, students are put into leadership positions on campus. The corps of cadets is literally run by the students, under adult supervision. Our cadet battalion commander is a 17- or 18-year-old student who’s in charge of the day-to-day workings of every other cadet on campus — what uniform they wear, their schedules, their activities. They’re not only charged with making sure everything runs smoothly, but they’re also tops academically.”

NYMA — its alumni include real-estate mogul Donald Trump and composer Stephen Sondheim — came perilously close to closing for financial reasons in recent years. But thanks to local investors and alumni who have rallied to its aid, the school has bounced back, according to Southwell. “We will continue, very strongly, into the future, thanks to their support.

“One of the best things about the education here is that, when students leave, they’re well-rounded,” she adds. “They’re organized, structured, and confident. This makes them well-equipped to succeed in any university environment. We’re very proud of our cadets.”

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