Despite Losing Boarding School, Sandy Springs Still Offers Many Educational Options

Former Sandy Springs resident Michael Friede waxes nostalgic about the years 2011 to 2014 when he attended Brandon Hall School not far from where he lived. “The school was great for me. I needed the structure it provided. All the staff and teachers knew how to work with students who had learning issues. Many kids came in with serious behavioral problems and left as mature adults,” he said.

Former Sandy Springs resident Michael Friede said of his alma mater, Brandon Hall, “Many kids came in with serious behavioral problems and left as mature adults.”

Friede counts himself among those who greatly benefited from attending the private boarding school that announced earlier this year that it was closing its doors, after more than 60 years. A small school that enrolled about 200 students while Friede attended, Brandon Hall served its enrollees partly as a boarding school and partly as a day school. Friede believes that fewer than 50 percent of the students were from abroad, and of those, many were from China.

Of course, during the pandemic international students were stymied from entering the U.S., but Friede believes that only exacerbated an existing problem. “After I graduated, the number of students dropped,” said Friede, now attending graduate school in New England. He believes Brandon Hall was “bleeding money for years.”

When contacted for its explanation for the closure, the school said it had “no other comments at this time.”

Brandon Hall was “never good at giving information,” said Friede. “They still don’t share much information even to alumni.”

The Galloway School

It may be impossible to know exactly where students already enrolled in Brandon Hall, or interested in attending the school, might choose to go instead. The Galloway School, another private school in Sandy Springs, reports “business as usual. We haven’t seen a huge increase in interest, but most of our families are domestic, from either Sandy Springs or Buckhead,” said Meghan Stauts, director of marketing and communications.

Opened in 1969 and located near Chastain Park, The Galloway School has 750 students from pre-K three-year-olds through 12th grade, with about 100 faculty members.

Atlanta International School

Given that a number of Brandon Hall enrollees were international, it could be assumed that at least some might relocate to Atlanta International School, located on North Fulton Drive. Currently, AIS has about 1,300 students from pre-K through 12th grade. According to Emily Hands, director of marketing and communications, “You are right to say that for families with an international background, AIS is a natural choice due to our full International Baccalaureate curriculum, specialized high quality language programs and our inclusive intercultural community.”

Hands emphasized that “it’s important to note that around half of our students’ families are American.” On the other hand, “our community of students, parents and employees represents over 90 countries, with over 60 languages spoken.”

Hands added that AIS offers rolling admissions throughout the year to local and international families. “We understand that people’s circumstances often don’t fit into a rigid school admissions timetable, so whenever possible – where we have space and if a student meets our entry requirements, we will try to accommodate a family’s educational needs. So this could apply to any former Brandon Hall families.”

Other Options

Sandy Springs families interested in top-notch private or public schools don’t have to travel far to find what they need. Within Sandy Springs, there The Epstein School and Davis Academy, both Jewish private schools. Not far out of Sandy Springs, are the private schools of Fulton Science Academy in Alpharetta and Pace Academy and The Westminster Schools in Buckhead.

Along with seven public elementary schools and two public middle schools, there are also two public high schools, both charter schools, in Sandy Springs. North Springs Charter High School on Roswell Road is the only magnet school in the Fulton County School System that offers both arts and sciences. Riverwood International Charter School is one of Fulton County’s four magnet schools, offering international studies and international Baccalaureate programs.

While other both private and public schools in the Atlanta area are open to Sandy Springs’ residents, one could argue there are enough educational options nearby.