Today’s Boarding School Is a Very Different School

When thinking of boarding schools, many often conjure up the image of a stodgy, ivy-covered 1950’s institution mired in a strict, traditional approach to teaching.   (Remember Robin Williams in “Dead Poets Society”?) Today’s boarding schools are anything but.  

Educating our children is a universal parenting priority, and selecting the right school is a crucial part of this process. From public and private day schools to boarding, charter, and parochial schools and homeschooling, there are a variety of options available to families. This proliferation of choice has impacted all educational institutions, and boarding schools have responded by adjusting and enhancing their educational programming. Today’s boarding school is not your parents’ (and definitely not your grandparents’) boarding school. 

Why do parents consider having their child attend boarding school? There are a host of reasons including, but not limited to, increased academic challenge with a broader curriculum; robust arts and athletics programs; learning to be more independent and responsible; enhanced preparation for college; and more. As research from The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) shows, in addition to providing strong academic programs and cutting-edge facilities, boarding schools are deliberately focusing on community life, character development, and social-emotional growth. Additionally, TABS data notes that the average boarding school is substantially more diverse than many public schools. Boarding schools tend to have a more pluralistic mix of races and ethnicities, and this is certainly the case at The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, where students hail from more than 30 countries and over a dozen states.  

What has also changed is that more and more kids today are themselves choosing to go to boarding school. Social media and popular culture (think: Harry Potter) are a conduit to a plethora of information on boarding school and its ability to shape lives. There also exists a wide range of anecdotal and quantitative data supporting the advantages of boarding school.  

Another changing dynamic is that parents today want to keep their children home to enjoy and be part of their growth as well as attend games and performances. As a result, even families in favor of the boarding option will focus on schools that are closer to home. 

In response to these trends, as well as increasing demands from current and prospective families, The Masters School added new programming to its well-established seven-day boarding program and introduced a five-day boarding option. The five-day option allows students who live within a commutable distance to take advantage of boarding closer to home. Five-day boarders enjoy full-time access to residential faculty and school resources for extra help, a tight-knit community with after school hour, while gaining independence and developing lifelong friendships. 

Masters encourages families interested in learning more about its day, five-day or seven-day boarding programs to visit the campus for an open house on October 19 or a group tour on October 29 or November 7. Contact or 914-479-6420. 

Laura Danforth is the Head of School at The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, NY and board member at The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS). Before joining Masters, she was Principal of the Upper School at Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Riverdale, NY. Prior to that position, she served for 10 years as Associate Head of School at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Conn. 














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About the Author: Laura Danforth