Moving Forward As A Family

What's Your Why?:  Family Stories

What does Harrisburg Academy mean to our families?  Read more to learn why our families choose the Academy for an unparalleled Preschool through 12th grade education and submit your story below.



Bernstein FamilyKatie Bernstein
Parent of Joshua ’32

Our son's confidence has grown immensely and he is eager to share his learning with others. He is learning how to problem solve through conflict (at five years old!!) and when learning new concepts. He is more comfortable trying new things.


Photo: The Bernstein Family


Michelle Lewis
Grandparent of Teddy ’31 and Margaret ’33

My husband, Don, and I are the proud grandparents of a grandson in Kindergarten and a granddaughter in early learning with the three-year-olds. It has been a wonderful and nurturing environment for the children. They are having a very good year.


Bob Bell


It's the best place to work ever! Prior to arriving here in 1999, I was 23 years in corporate America, where nothing mattered but the bottom line dollar. Within just a few months of beginning my work here, I was thrust into a teaching assignment I had no idea I was ever qualified to do, and there has been no looking back. The thrill of watching young minds expand and absorb knowledge has no comparison to previous work assignments. I wish I had found the Academy much sooner than I did.


Crownover FamilyJoe Crownover ’85

Coming from a family with limited financial resources, it was a stretch to come to HA starting in 7th grade. My family made sacrifices and I received financial aid. I felt connected to and challenged by my teachers, became involved in drama, newspaper, quiz bowl and was class president my junior and senior years.


I would never have had these opportunities had I remained in my large, rural public school.


Most importantly, I knew college was always my dream but was worried about the cost. My parents did not graduate from college and we didn’t know how to navigate the process and the options. I was restricting my exploration to less expensive schools. Dr. Lee March was my English teacher and college advisor at the time. She encouraged me to dream big and the resources would follow.


I ended up attending and graduating from Haverford College, again with an incredible financial aid package. Dr. March believed in me and assured me that the right school would want me as a member of their community and make it possible for me to attend. She was right!


After Haverford, I moved to Texas for a Masters’ degree program in Latin American Studies (fully funded plus a stipend – thank you again, Dr. March) and then worked for ten years with Amigos de las Americas, a non-profit organization that sends student volunteers to collaborate with Latin American communities on health and development projects.


Having lived and worked in multiple countries in Latin America, plus several years in the Netherlands, I am now writing this from a work trip to Kazakhstan. Now working for Shell Oil for over 18 years, I have visited around 30 countries and opened up amazing opportunities for my now teenaged children.


Not bad for a boy from Perry County who never flew on an airplane until the age of 19… I truly credit HA and the many teachers who supported and inspired me to believe I could do anything if I worked for it.


Photo: Garrett Crownover, Jennifer Langdon, Taylor Crownover, and Joe Crownover


DillmanMary Virginia and Sandy Dillman
Grandparents of Gretchen ’28

As demonstrated by her 1st quarter 3rd grade report card, our granddaughter, Gretchen, is growing in depth and breadth of interaction with the world in which she lives. She has been there since pre-K and says, "I LOVE it!"


Photo: Mary Virginia and Sandy Dillman with Gretchen ’28


Mary Alice Horner
Parent of Marilyn Jean Horner Knox ’76 and John Horner, III

The Academy means a lot to me as my husband, John A. Horner, Jr. (Jack), was headmaster from 1968 to 1978. Our daughter, Marilyn Jean Horner Knox ’76 graduated from the Academy and our son, John Horner, III attended Kindergarten through 3rd grade.


Lisa Haywood


I am a teacher and for me, the Academy allows me the freedom to share all of my interests and gifts with my students. Where else can I share my love of the written word, ancient civilizations, and drama all in one place? I love the students and the love of learning they bring to the classroom. The administration is supportive but allows me autonomy. Harrisburg Academy is a wonderful work environment and it makes me smile to come into work each day!


Markovitz FamilyMindy Markovitz ’87

Although I was only at the Academy for 10th, 11th, and 12th grades, I felt very welcomed. Immediately. In those few years, connections were made, friendships were formed, and it felt like a family. The faculty was like family – maybe it was because a lot of my classmates were children of faculty! My father passed away tragically when I was in 11th grade and I felt SO MUCH love and support.


Photo: The Markovitz Family


Kathleen Jones
Grandparent of Adrian ’25

I value the learning experience my grandson receives at Harrisburg Academy. It means so much to me to see how he is growing there. He started in Junior Kindergarten and now he is in 6th grade. I appreciate the diversity, the moral principles and excellent education.


Gene Davis
Grandparent of Parker ’19 and Alexa ’21

We believe the Academy has given our grandchildren a valuable educational experience in preparing them for the next step in their lives.


Duncan FamilyAmy Duncan
Parent of Samantha ’25 and Alana ’26

As a military family, we understand that school transitions can be challenging. Our experience as a new Harrisburg Academy Middle School family has been amazing. The staff, students, and parents have made every effort to make our entire family feel welcome.


Photo: The Duncan Family


Venkat And Nandini Kapa
Parents of Shriyan ’27 and Nitya ’30

We as parents appreciate that we have Harrisburg Academy to educate our children in every aspect. We love its diversity, respect for all cultures and teaching methods. We believe that children should be provided with the best education possible. Thank you.


Donna Lofland Brahms

Grandparent of Sophie '26

I love Harrisburg Academy!! My granddaughter Sophie has been a student since she was three-yrs-old. On a daily basis, Sophie learns to protect, to share, to learn, to serve, to commit, and to be a well-rounded student. The Academy offers a wide variety of subjects that give each student the opportunity to reach new goals. Each teacher strives to have their student succeed. The older students share with the younger students to promote family and strength.


Heather Blanchard


Teaching at the Academy is so much more than a job-it’s a true community. There are countless reasons why I love teaching at the Academy, but my number one reason has to be our amazing students who make me smile every day. They are kind, generous, funny, creative, smart, dedicated kids who understand and embrace the balance of character, hard work, and play in their lives. I am so lucky to get to teach them!


Photo:  Heather Blanchard with students


Wu Hongxing

Parent of Youyou '19

Thank you to Harrisburg Academy’s faculty and staff!  Youyou is very happy at the Academy, not only to learn scientific knowledge, but more importantly to learn the truth of life, to cultivate independence, self-decision, self-reliance, self-confidence, and love!  Thank you very much for your support and dedication to Youyou!


Kimmel FamilyJackie Kimmel
Parent of Reese ’26

We chose the Academy for many reasons. I wanted Reese to be in a safe and loving environment and I feel the Academy provides that. Each of our children has special talents; the structure and values of the Academy help nourish those strengths.


Photo: The Kimmel Family


Nadine Meyer
Parent of Chloe ’23

My daughter has been at Harrisburg Academy for a little over a year, and I have seen tremendous growth in her happiness, her confidence, and her academics! Thank you for everything you do.


Lynn Davis ’60

As a student graduating in 1960, I had wonderful teachers, and the extracurricular activities were outstanding, even then. I enjoyed the phys ed classes and sports programs as a cheerleader, and my small group of classmates were terrific people!


Newman FamilyJim Newman
Parent of Peter ’08

I’m the parent of an Academy alum.


Our alumni, my son included, consistently report that they are exceedingly well-prepared for college. They can research and write effectively. They’ve learned how to organize their workload and study efficiently.


That kind of news is very affirming to our faculty and staff. So is the joy in learning that we readily see every day in each division. So are the smiles, the laughter, and the feeling of belonging and being safe.

But, there is more to my “why.”


During my second year at the Academy, I became very aware of what faculty and parents had told me: that Harrisburg Academy transforms the lives of students in a most positive and unique way. This transformation occurs over time. Sometimes the change is easy to see. Students develop new interests, which often become passions: French, chemistry, coding, basketball, writing poetry, swimming, or acting, to name just a few.

They respond to and process questions in a more considerate and analytical way.


Sometimes the changes are less visible and take more than just a few years to occur. Students begin to think more critically and debate more effectively. They become more confident. They understand differences among their peers and as a result, they show empathy and care for others. They take more responsibility and are increasingly accountable.


Educating students is an inherently transformative process. It is much more than training students to learn fundamental skills or score high in SAT exams. Along with growth in learning should come greater self-understanding.


Our faculty and staff support students as they transform within an environment of challenge, understanding, and equity. The metamorphosis, the becoming, is the Academy at our best. It’s at the core of our school community. It’s to be cherished and advanced long into the future.


Photo: Jim Newman with Peter '08


Shary FamilyTim Shary ’86

I was a scholarship student who graduated in 1986. I earned my Ph.D. in Communication by 1998, became a college professor, and have published eight books in the field of film studies. I will be forever grateful for the formative start the Academy gave me.


Photo: Tim Shary '86 with his daughter, Olivia


Maribel Torres
Parent of Lissette ’19

My daughter has been at the academy since she was three years old and is currently a senior. She is a well-educated and well-rounded individual who is applying for colleges and already got accepted to Penn State. I am looking forward to her bright future.


Robyn Cutchall

HA is like having a second family. I have spent the last 20 years forming bonds not only with my students, but with the families. Over the years, as the students (and families) progress through Middle School and Upper School, I always enjoy seeing the students in the hallways or having them come back to help in my classroom. When seeing parents in the building or at special events, it is a pleasure to reconnect by sharing stories about our pets, favorite sports' teams or family stories. Lastly, I have developed close relationships with my peers that make them feel like family to me. We have been there for each other to share our family's joys or sorrows and even just to listen or give advice. They have become my second family.


SmithJason Nathaniel Smith ’91

I was a poor kid, but a smart and sassy one. I won a merit scholarship to the Academy and found a family that (largely) accepted my unique personality... and enabled me to pursue what interested me. Those interests grew into the business I run today.


It was a quest of mine to "escape" public school, somehow. I used to even wear a prison shirt emblazoned with my "student number"! When Harrisburg Academy approached me to compete for a merit scholarship, I jumped all over it.


Though small, the Academy offered opportunities — and intellectual freedom — everywhere I turned.


  • I loved the field of architecture and was connected for an internship with a member of the board who owned an architecture firm.
  • I had a knack for bending wire so art teacher Mr. Bowie connected me with a fancy boutique that sold my wire-sculpted face pins for wild sums of money.
  • I was terrible at Latin but was allowed to write a computer program on the Gaelic Wars for extra credit.
  • I loved politics and was elected to student council and also ran for council president.
  • I enjoyed words and poetry; Dr. Lee March encouraged me to consider the field of English for college (I never had her in class, but that did not limit her reach)!

Now, when I look at my life SINCE the Academy, I see that much of my life is a reflection of my Academy days. I completed a degree in English and got a job as a copywriter (thanks to Dr. March). I founded Fathom Studio, a design firm (modeled in part after the firm of John Butler Davis, architect — and fueled in part by Mr. Bowie's entrepreneurial encouragement). I ran for mayor of Harrisburg against steep odds (thanks to my early political bouts at the Academy). And I have launched an online giving system ( to help nonprofits raise funds (thanks in part to Ms. Harwood, Latin teacher, who understood that computer programming is a language, too!).


It is easy to think we are all self-made people, that those we encountered along the way were just scenery. But again and again I see specific individuals associated with the Academy that had transformative effects upon my life. Thank you Harrisburg Academy for welcoming me to your family!


Photo:  Jason Smith '91


Lindsay Bowman


Dr. Newman has shared that his favorite character flag is “thankful.” Now in my sixth year at the Academy, I can confidently say it’s mine, too. When I began teaching at the Academy, I realized that I needed to become a student again, too. I felt I owed it to my students, the Academy, and to myself to do and learn as much as I could. The atmosphere at this school made that easy and I feel lucky every day to work here.


Almost all of my trips have involved professional development, which has allowed me to meet many other amazing educators from around the country. They often work without the full support of their administration and their stories make me thankful that I work at a school with a mission that speaks to the importance of being globally minded, and partnering with families who believe in the advantage of a Harrisburg Academy education. Many of my new friends fund their own participation in workshops or seminars because their schools don’t have a professional development budget and/or won’t supply a substitute. The stories that I used to think were embellished are true, and I often sit in stunned silence, because I have no basis for comparison; I can take my students on field trips, I always have the supplies I need, and our school is a safe haven for our students.


Photo:  Lindsay Bowman in Finland






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