As I have stated in previous articles, I believe that Camden Military Academy (CMA) is one the premier educational experiences for a young man to be found anywhere. Prospective parents and cadets are always eager to ask, “Why Camden and what makes CMA different from other schools?” In today’s column, I want to attempt to answer that question.
First and foremost, the actual school day is different from what many high school students are accustomed to at their home schools. At CMA, our school day is very traditional. In other words, our classes are structured much like they were for anyone reading this column who is over 40 years old! You will see the same teachers for 40 minutes each day, every day. This allows the cadets to stay focused and receive frequent breaks. How many teenage boys have you met that could stay focused for nearly 90 minutes on one particular academic area?
We distribute grades to cadets every two weeks. I often compare these two-week grades with the traditional interim reports that public schools send home at the midpoint of their grading periods. With our system, they receive numerous updates on their progress. Gone is the worry and anxiety for the student who tends to ignore his grades until the last moment. In other words, it is far more difficult for a student to fail if he receives more frequent feedback from his instructors.
There are also a few other academic differences between CMA and other schools in that we have mandatory tutorials, a Learning Center, and a mandatory study hall each evening. Mandatory tutorials are for students who have not maintained a “C,” or better, in all subjects. The Learning Center is required of cadets who are receiving Ds and Fs. Both of these sessions provide extra face time with instructors. In my opinion, the key to success for many cadets have been the evening mandatory study halls. Prior to CMA, many students confess that they rarely complete their homework and turn it in on time. Not surprisingly, I often hear from parents who state that their son says, “Homework? Teachers do not give us homework.” Well, at CMA every teacher gives homework in every class each day. Teachers also monitor the study halls to assist cadets, if needed, but also to make sure that cadets are actually studying during this time.
I often like to brag about the family feel and atmosphere of our academy. Have you seen our campus? It is very “green” and inviting. It is not the stereotypical institutional-like feel of many other military schools. There are street lamp posts lining the entrance, beautiful landscaping and even faculty and staff’s pets roaming around the campus. Also, while there is a teacher shortage in South Carolina and much of the nation, our teacher turnover rate is very small. CMA has a number of instructors who have been on staff for more than 20 years. The headmaster has been on staff for nearly 35 years! Our small school setting of 302 cadets, allows the cadets and instructors to get to know each other outside of the classroom. All of our instructors are required to coach sports or sponsor clubs. This makes our instructors much more approachable than the standard calculus instructor. If you take a moment to think back to the most impactful moments a teacher had on your life, you will probably find that those moments did not come from what was taught in the classroom but from the life lessons learned outside of the classroom -- mine sure were!
CMA is all male and all boarding. I realize that being all male may not be very politically correct nowadays but there is scientific evidence that boys and girls just learn differently, and it is helpful to be surrounded by others who have a similar style as yourself.
For example, young men are traditionally more hands-on learners enjoying things like moving around the classroom and touching things which is why we try to incorporate a very active learning environment for our cadets. Also, let’s face it, girls are just better looking than guys! Therefore, with the absence of girls in the classroom, there is one less distraction to have to worry about! Since all cadets are seven-day boarding students, they are on the same schedule. Our cadets are not having to worry what their closest friends are doing because they are all doing the same thing. Again, one less distraction.
There are a number of other reasons that I believe CMA is a premier educational institution, but my column is running long. So, if you are still reading this, I invite you to our campus to discover them for yourself so that you too can help spread the good news of Camden Military Academy!