Passing the torch at a Black boarding school: A case study of the Piney Woods Country Life School

Shirl Renee Burns, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to examine how an historical Black independent boarding school responded to the educational needs of Black students. This study was conducted to address the apparent void in available literature on Black boarding schools as an educational alternative for the minority population. Key issues for examination were: (a) the experiences of Black students in a Black boarding school as they relate to academics and social development, (b) the values and beliefs of students and faculty within the institution, and (c) the educational philosophy of administration that impacts on the culture. A quantitative case study methodology was used to render a holistic description of this bounded experience. This method provided the means to effectively interpret, rather than measure, the findings from collected data. Qualitative inquiry was also employed, which allowed for an intensified understanding of the values, beliefs, and the behavior of the school culture. The methods used featured naturalistic inquiry through participant observations and interviews. The dilemma of obtaining quality education for Black children has plagued the Black family for centuries. Both public and independent day and boarding schools have been viable options for the Black family, offering different educational experiences. Black parents have continuously striven to improve the quality of education provided by public schools. An intensified need to select alternative choices has become an imperative strategy to ensure the best available preparation for their children. In search of an educational alternative, the Piney Woods Country Life School has emerged as a viable option for a small segment of the Black population. The academic achievement of Black students is obtainable in institutions that provide support for academics, social development, and high teacher and student expectations. Based on my findings, the residential model at Piney Woods contributes greatly to the success of this school. However, this institution must aggressively address the issues of additional resources and programming to further enhance the education of its students. This academic and residential model of education should be investigated within the public school realm to accommodate those students considered to be at risk of academic and social failure.

Subject Area

School administration|African Americans|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Burns, Shirl Renee, "Passing the torch at a Black boarding school: A case study of the Piney Woods Country Life School" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9808996.