Nestled inconspicuously inside of one of Buffalo’s glorious 19th century mansions, built when Buffalo was booming, resides an organization that you might not expect to find occupying a mansion.
The Buffalo Academy of Scholars occupies the first floor of this magnificent piece of the city’s history. In stark contrast to the wistful splendor represented by Buffalo’s still standing architectural cornerstones, the Academy of Scholars doesn’t look at their surroundings, and wish for what was; they look at their inhabitants, and envision a better future.
Executive Director of the Academy of Scholars, Alan Hibbard, is part of the growing trend of Buffalo’s youth taking charge, taking risks, and making a difference in the lives of people right here in our community.
“It had been my dream to start my own school,” Hibbard explained, “it happened a lot sooner than I thought it would.” In his second year in his position as Executive Director, Hibbard is already creating his legacy.
“Everyone has the power to change the world for the better, and if I go through life without making the world better in the ways that I know I’m capable of, I will feel like I squandered life. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it is worth it, every day.”
This diminutive private school is trying to fill some big shoes, and make sweeping changes. Up against a daunting landscape of school standardizations, charter school options, and century old private institutions, the Academy of Scholars isn’t just fighting to help students discover the power of their own education, they’re fighting to change conventional educational practices. With a total current enrollment of only ten students, they offer a significantly different educational program, and experiences for those who choose this school.
“Awareness is our biggest challenge. Not many people know we’re here, or that they have an option in their high school education,” Hibbard stated as we examined what it takes to make a new, private school successful. “People think high school is something they have to do, but most people don’t understand they have a choice in where they go to school. I’m a believer that you’re not given an education, you have to take an education. We want to give students control over their education so they can take charge of it. Funding is another problem. Most private schools get funding from a healthy alumni base. We don’t have many alumni, and since we’re a private school, we don’t get any public funding, or taxpayer funding.”
But on top of those typical business challenges, there is one other unique challenge the Buffalo Academy of Scholars faces: Challenging the accepted standards of how an education is delivered.
All images are copyrighted and provided by Living In The Buff by Paul Fanara