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Q&A with: Jim Power Ed.D, Head of Schools, Culver Academies, Culver, IN
This is the latest of a series profiling schools from different regions of the country. Culver Academies is a college-preparatory boarding school in the Midwest with a focus on leadership and whole person education.
Where do Culver students come from?
Our 815 students hail from 41 states and 28 countries. Students and families come to Culver because they seek a school with strong character and academic focus. At Culver students have the opportunity to be known for who they are and how they affect other people. The chance to define themselves is a powerful motivation.
What makes Culver Academies unique?
Steeped in a history that dates back 122 years, Culver Military Academy offers a structure to cultivate in young men personal responsibility, a sense of services, and leadership. Boys share classes, service programs, social activities, and some athletic sports with the Culver Girls Academy, which has its own prefect approach to fostering leadership qualities in young women. We also offer a comprehensive summer program that provides a six-week immersion into the Culver experience.
Our focus is on helping all Culver students understand how autonomy is balanced with service to community. Culver is as intentional as you can get in the building of leadership. Our students first learn about followership—cultivating self-discipline, humility, and a habit of thinking about the greater good. Older students mentor younger students, and the language of leadership becomes an integral part of daily life.
How does Culver’s setting connect to the school’s program?
Our students come from across America and around the globe, and our school culture is deeply rooted in the classic virtues and a can-do attitude. Our students are unpretentious, earnest, and focused on substance over image. We challenge students to explore what they really stand for.
We have a passionate alumni community, and through its support, we have a generous budget for financial aid. Nearly 48% of Culver students receive financial aid, including both need-based assistance and merit scholarships; this is a significantly higher percentage than most peer schools.
How are academics unique at Culver?
Our classes set high standards that inspire students to reach their fullest potential, and our faculty support students in building the resilience to bounce back when they encounter difficulty. Our students understand that aspiring to true success means achieving individually and as part of a team. Every year students have an academic class exploring leadership, along with many opportunities for public speaking. Our unique programs include on-campus opportunities and classes where students explore entrepreneurship and global studies, as well as a variety of meaningful student travel opportunities.
What is special about extracurricular activities at Culver?
We have a requirement that students educate themselves spiritually by being exposed to a collection of spiritual life programs, some of which are denomination-based and some of which explore meditation and philosophy-based conversations. We want young people to explore the big questions of life on a regular basis because finding the balance of mind, spirit and body is the foundation of character.
Because of our size, we also offer a diverse program of traditional activities, ranging from horseback riding to fine arts and more than 60 student-led clubs. Our boys’ lacrosse team is among the top in the country and our hockey team also reached the national playoffs. The co-curricular area is the easiest place to see leadership in action. It’s tempting to confuse leadership with position. Culver students, however, understand that leadership is not about ego. It is about building consensus and focusing on goals. They understand leadership becomes its own reward because sometimes it is comprised of actions that go unrecognized but are nonetheless critical for success.