When deciding on the next steps of her education, 17-year-old Kari Teglia sought a place where she could build meaningful relationships. Culver Academies delivered just that — and more. “The Culver mission of developing character through mind, spirit, and body resonated with me,” says Teglia. “I took a leap of faith to come here and am glad I did.”
Located on the north shore of Indiana’s Lake Maxinkuckee, Culver offers a co-educational, residential experience beyond that of the typical boarding school for students in grades 9 to 12. Through integrated programmes that emphasise the cultivation of character, the values-based, mission-driven, vision-inspired institution transforms students into leaders. From the classroom to the field or in residential life, Culver students are preparing to become contributing key members of society.
The Leadership Education Curriculum challenges Culver students to understand the power of building teams to accomplish goals and to reflect on their roles as members and leaders within those teams. In the second or third teams of their senior year, for example, they are given time to pause, discuss, reflect, and write about what they have learned about leadership through their experiences as leaders.
Seniors meet weekly with other seniors and a Leadership Mentor (faculty in the Department of Leadership Education and other leaders from across campus) to discuss three elements of their engaged leadership on campus — responsible citizenship, team leadership, and community building.
For Teglia, responsible citizenship meant focusing on serving others and her community. “I began to understand how important it is to direct energy outward instead of inward,” she shares. “I started joining clubs, doing service, and taking time to be an extra helping hand in times of need.”
A highlight of her time at Culver includes becoming a Senior Prefect at the Culver Girls Academy (CGA), made possible through the academy’s prefect system — a structure that provides girls with opportunities to exercise their voice and practise how to lead.
“Earning this leadership position was a huge honour — it took three years of building respect and trust with my peers and adults,” she enthuses. “I worked my way up in the leadership system like all CGA girls do. Freshman and sophomore years are followership years where the girls watch the leaders in action and learn what it means to lead.”
Starting as a Hall Prefect, Teglia quickly rose through the ranks and received positive feedback from her dormmates. Today, as Senior Prefect, she works alongside Dean Caren Standfast and her committee of eight dorm chairs to “set the goals and theme for this year and communicate consistency across CGA.”
Over at Culver Military Academy (CMA), young men mature within Culver’s military system — assuming greater levels of responsibility. “At first, they are consumed with leading themselves, ensuring they aren’t the ones marching to the dining hall like a baby giraffe,” shares Culver’s Commandant of Cadets, Col. Mike Squires. “They grow to take care of others and ultimately lead entire units, ensuring their community (their unit) functions effectively.”
This includes teaching younger cadets to master military tasks, such as wearing a uniform properly, loading and firing the M3 105-millimiter howitzer cannon in the proper sequence, conducting the proper 15-count manual of arms in unison with an M14 rifle, and many more.
Jonathan Jimenez, 17, is a prime example of CMA’s impact. By facing a board consisting of military personnel and counsellors who interview six seniors elected from around 200 seniors in the Corp, he passed his interview to become a Regimental Commander, the top student leadership position in CMA. “I wanted to lead the school that has given me so much. I have made great friends, learned so much, and achieved so much that I wanted to do the most I could to give back to my school by serving as Regimental Commander,” he says.
To Jimenez, the academy is the best military school for aspiring leaders because of the strong relationships within it. “By living with each other, we not only see the real side of everyone but also how we grow throughout our years. One thing you will hear a lot by students and alumni is that it truly is the people that make Culver special and I know I firmly believe that,” he says. “Everyone is here to help you grow and build your abilities as well as your confidence to lead and serve in whatever field you wish to pursue.”
Throughout this journey, there’s a lot of fun and camaraderie to be had too. “In the winter, I participate and run the Culver Futsal Club, where we gather girls and boys of Culver from all experience backgrounds to play indoor soccer,” Jimenez shares. “I learned not only how to communicate with adults by reserving space but also how to motivate people to play well and enjoy the sport we love.”
In the classroom, dedicated faculty members inspire, challenge, and encourage students. Whether it’s learning Western Perspectives or Chemistry, Teglia enjoys the hands-on activities and group collaboration. Most classes offer time for students to discuss various topics related to their coursework.
“I often went into a discussion thinking one thing and a classmate opened my mind to think differently,” she shares. “This is a valuable lesson in life because we learn so much more from listening to other people.”
If you seek a unique educational experience while your child can focus on finding, developing, and using their voice, learn more about Culver Academies here.