No One Path
Although achievements are important, the Burroughs experience is more than simply reaching goals such as letter grades or admission to predetermined colleges. It’s about setting and working toward the right goals for each individual guided by a corps of caring and attentive professionals. Our size and informality are critical. Burroughs is just small enough that students are well-known and yet large enough to support many different sports and activities that enable students to determine their individualized paths, driven by their talents and interests.
A collaboration of teachers, coaches, principals, advisers, counselors, administrators, class sponsors and parents form a support network. Parents are actively involved and visibly present, lending their own support through volunteerism and school governance. The faculty interact with students in multiple ways. Most teach at several grade levels, virtually all are advisers and many assume roles beyond teaching, such as college counseling, coaching or class sponsorship. In addition, we have an academic support department that helps students with different learning styles successfully meet the Burroughs challenge.
A Culture of Excellence
The Burroughs experience is designed to help students achieve a balanced education that embraces academics, athletics, activities and the arts. We provide a broad education through a scaffolding of knowledge and skill building. Students are challenged through broad exposure to term papers, expository writing, geometry with formal proof, orchestra (elective), varsity coach instruction of grades 7 and 8 physical education units and required courses in fine, performing and practical arts. Our 7th and 8th grade students explore a broad curriculum without the worry of formal grades. We do not rank students at any grade level.
Our students perform exceptionally well by standard measures—National Merit, SATs, APs and college placement. In fact, for the past 12 years, Burroughs students have claimed the highest percentage of National Merit semifinalists in the State of Missouri. Yet our students' success is not because they’ve been specifically trained to perform well on standard tests, but because they are talented in their own right and our approach to curriculum design helps students attain the knowledge and skills to excel.
At Burroughs, students flourish under the instruction of masterful teachers in a highly interactive process. This student-teacher interaction is the core of a Burroughs education — in the classrooms, laboratories, studios and workshops as well as on the playing fields and performing arts venues.
Though our teachers are encouraged to use a variety of methodologies and technology, as they determine what works best for each class, our model for academics is the graduate seminar. Students learn to question each other and the teacher, solve problems together and learn the critical thinking skills most people associate with the liberal arts.
One of our former students put it well, “In ten years, twenty years, I might not remember the facts that I learned in history or how to solve a certain problem in math, but I will always have the knowledge of how to learn and how to be a student.” And this is our goal. As students grow, Burroughs helps them become increasingly independent and responsible for their own success. Students learn to embrace challenges, accept risks, overcome obstacles and achieve their goals—all with a support network of friends, faculty, coaches and parents.
The founders of our school established core principles on which a Burroughs education should be based: an appreciation and commitment to service, nature and the strength that derives from our differences.
Over the course of six years, students are actively engaged in voluntary community service projects in the St. Louis community and beyond. The average graduating class contributes more than 10,000 hours. Burroughs as an institution models service through two programs which bring youth in need to our campus. Aim High is an academic-enrichment program run by student volunteers and faculty for middle school kids. Summer Days is a two-week camp, run entirely by students, for grade school-age children.
Students gain a greater appreciation for nature through their visits to Drey Land, our Ozark campus, and as sustainability and outdoor education are woven into the curriculum and student activities. Our evolving campus also models this commitment through our single source recycling program, our bio-retention systems and our commitment that all new buildings be LEED-certified.
We prepare students for the future by maintaining an open and democratic culture. Burroughs values and fosters simplicity enriched by a diversity of backgrounds, thought, talent, interests and experience. Individuals with varying perspectives each have a comfortable place to express themselves.