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About Grand River Academy

Nationally recognized as one of the few remaining boarding schools of its kind in the United States, Grand River Academy offers a non-military, nonsectarian, all-male college preparatory education. The academy celebrated 175 years of education in 2006! Since 1962, the academy has upheld a mission to develop and foster the emotional and academic maturity necessary for its students to graduate and launch successful college careers.Head of School Blog

When education is mishandled in America, it seems to be the boys who suffer most. Boys are more likely to be enrolled in special education classes, held back a grade, referred to school psychologists, and drop out of school. Overall, they are less committed to school and are less likely to go to college. Boys are punished more often and more severely. Schools have fundamental control over these results, but not all schools are willing to be accountable for them. This is the key difference between Grand River Academy and other schools, both public and private.

Boys in the Public School System

Public schools are given a hard task: to take on more students than their staff and facilities can handle. Often because of overstretched resources and educational regulations, teachers adopt a cookie cutter approach to teaching, particularly where it concerns boys education. Students develop fewer and shallower relationships with instructors as they are directed through lessons rather than being encouraged to explore topics on their own. This can result in the school’s failing to meet the needs of all students.

Noncompliance in schoolwork or behavior often gives rise to conflict rather than discussion or adjustments to teaching methods. This is a major reason why boys receive the majority of failing grades, disciplinary actions, and other forms of negative treatment.

The Mixed Bag of Traditional Private Schools

Private schools have more flexibility regarding resources and how to organize class time, but not all private schools are created equal. Not all private and college prep schools are willing to invest the extra time in students to ensure that they understand the material being taught in classrooms. In these cases, boys may not just face the challenge of falling behind in their schoolwork, they may also face rejected entry applications or expulsion if the school feels its reputation or ratings may be damaged by keeping on “low-performing” students.

How GRA Makes a Difference in Boys Education

Grand River Academy provides students and parents with a solution to the problems present in other schools. The teachers and staff at Grand River know that every boy is capable of succeeding in school, but not every student fits into the same learning mold. GRA classrooms are flexible and open learning environments where students are assured that they will be heard and get the attention they need.

Grand River is not just a private boarding school, it is an independent boarding school. This means that a board of directors holds the school accountable for its educational standards. Private schools may be run by a single person operating without accountability. Our board provides a series of checks and balances, ensuring that every decision is thoroughly weighed by a team dedicated to preserving the educational integrity and compassionate nature of our school.

Psych class at Grand River


Teaching teaching student


Boys Education

Q: What are the learning differences between girls and boys?

A: Boys education relies heavily on active learning, where boys are actively engaged in lessons. Unfortunately, traditional classrooms employ a lecture-style structure in which a teacher presents information and students are passive recipients. However, boys do disproportionately worse in this type of learning environment, evidenced by how they receive 80% of ADHD diagnoses and 90% of disciplinary referrals.

In an active classroom, teachers instruct students in learning strategies and guide them through the course material, but the students choose their own projects, pursue their own research, and have an overall more assertive role in their education. This not only gives them learning tools they’ll be able to use in all forms of education, it also helps them focus on their assignments and hone in on the parts of the lessons that they are most interested in.

Q: Why are boys falling behind girls in education?

A: There seem to be many reasons that contribute to boys’ poor performance in school despite demonstrating similar mastery of subject matter in standardized tests.

Research on developmental differences between girls and boys is ongoing. However, there is strong social pressure for boys to act a certain way and value certain activities. This can lead boys to resist communicating problems with learning or even never develop a strong interest in it. Additionally, some studies suggest that a majority of teachers, particularly at lower grade levels, favor female students, who conform to lecture-style classes more quickly.

Whatever the reason, boys are at a disadvantage in public schools, and no significant action is being implemented to address those issues.

Q: How do you motivate young boys in education?

A: GRA’s approach to motivating its students is to engage with them through tight-knit classes, individualized attention from instructors, a variety of exciting courses, educational field trips, and a host of extra-curriculars.

Public schools do not always provide everything that boys, especially teenagers, need to thrive academically. We make every effort to holistically connect with our students so they can succeed academically, develop their individual identities, and find their passions.

Private School

Q: How do private boys schools compare with public co-ed schools?

A: Private boys schools are peerless in their ability to engage with young men and help them find value in their education. Private schools for boys give every student the chance to succeed academically as well as gain important life skills. Public schools, on the other hand, have a discouraging record with boys education. In public schools, boys account for the vast majority of failing grades, disciplinary referrals, and dropouts.

Private school systems are adaptive, making sure that every student can learn and grow. Public school systems, though, marginalize students who need more stimulation to learn, which actually impairs their education.

Q: What should I take into account when looking at private high schools?

A: Above all, private high schools should meet your child’s needs. Whether your child has a learning disability, is unmotivated in school, or simply wants the chance to meaningfully pursue a specific set of courses (science, art, etc.), the private school you choose should be able to engage your child and fulfill all of his educational needs.

Q: Why should I consider sending my son to boarding school?

A: Boarding schools have the unique ability to not just shape a student’s classroom experience, but the environment they live in. All boy boarding schools give students the opportunity to explore the courses they love, form deep social bonds, and develop a profound sense of responsibility – all before graduating from high school. Young men who attend boarding school are also uniquely prepared for college, readily able to handle the increased independence and responsibility.

Q: Why do boys at boarding school wear uniforms?

A: There are a few benefits to having students wear uniforms. It creates a less competitive environment so that the focus remains on engaging with classwork. Uniforms also hold students to higher expectations, which consistently lead to higher achievement. Finally, uniforms help build the school’s sense of community, promoting camaraderie among the students.

Grand River Academy Logistics

Q: What type of programs do boarding schools offer?

A: We offer a rich curriculum that includes engaging core classes and uncommon electives to excite students no matter their passion. This includes classes like Robotics, Psychology, American Wars, Web Design, Videography, Creative Writing, Sculpture, and more.

View current course offerings on our Curriculum page.

Q: What is the average class size?

A: We create an intimate environment where students form close bonds with each other, and teachers have time to get to know the learning needs of each student. For GRA, this means maintaining an average class size of 8 students.

For an overview of our facilities and student population, refer to our GRA At a Glance page.

Q: Is GRA a military school?

A: No, GRA does not have any military affiliation.

Q: Is GRA a religious school?

A: GRA is a nonsectarian school, and so it is not affiliated with any religious group. However, we are proud of our diverse community, and students who choose to practice any faith are welcome.

Q: What grades does the school offer?

A: As a high school, we offer grades 9-12. Our summer program also offers courses for grades 9-12.

Teaching Faculty: (Updated May 28, 2014)

  • None


  • Weekend Campus Supervisor


grand river history

Grand River Academy is one of the oldest private schools in Ohio. Its history dates back to 1831, when benefactor Dr. Orestes K. Hawley endowed a school with a building and several acres of land on the banks of the Grand River.



Grand River Academy

3042 College Street
Austinburg, Ohio



board room

Grand River Academy is thankful for the dedication and loyalty of its Board of Trustees. Our Board strives to make a difference in each students education; made up of community leaders, alumni and alumni parents the Grand River Academy Board of Trustees is the foundation of the Academy.


birch trees

The Academy’s curriculum is college preparatory, with an emphasis on helping those students who can benefit from the extra attention offered in a boarding program.


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