Southeast Private School Molds Boys into Men

Barrington M. Salmon | 3/22/2012, 3:23 p.m.

Gowan said much of what she imparts is centered around teaching the boys how to express themselves, and helping them work through challenges and problems in constructive ways.

Woody agreed, saying that this element is a critical part of what the staff is trying to teach.

"We help the boys free up their emotions. We teach them about the value of making good choices. We're letting them be boys but training them to be gentlemen."

Woody said the boys, while getting a $20,000 a year, tuition-free education, are exposed to the best that D.C. has to offer and more.

"They have been to the White House three times and toured the Capitol with Congresswoman Norton. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is the head of our advisory committee. To have him read 'God's Dream' to four- and five-year-olds - they don't understand it yet but that was special."

The students tend garden plots where they grow vegetables and flowers. They enjoy art and music twice a week, after-school programs of chorale and African dance and drumming with noted musician and drummer Lesole Maine, and the boys play lacrosse at St. Albans, a sister school in Northwest.

One of the great benefits, Woody said, is the relationships his school is forging with St. Albans, St. Patrick's in Northwest and other Episcopal schools.

Bruce Holmes is an anomaly. He is a young black male teacher, a rarity in most schools. He grew up in Southeast, has been teaching for eight years and is in the midst of his fifth year at the school.

"It been cool and very interesting to see the transition," said the 29-year-old Northeast resident who teaches junior kindergarten. "We started in the basement of a child development building. But we have blossomed. We have new staff, our own playground. By being at this school, I've realized my worth as an African-American educator. I'm from this community. It's great to be able to give back. To be in an all-boys school and have this setting is important. I see myself in them. I give them direction, that's why I'm here." (There is a lot more to this story. Read it online at washingtoninformer.com.)