By Jim Gehman, Player Engagement Insider
A nine-year veteran, four-time Pro Bowler and key member of Baltimore’s Super Bowl XXXV championship team, former Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware chooses to share the credit for his gridiron success.
“I had great parents (Raleigh and Melba Boulware). They taught me the value of hard work and respecting adults and coaches,” Boulware said. “And I had great coaches. In college (Florida State), I had a great coach, Bobby Bowden, and then when we got to Baltimore, I had some great coaches there with Marvin Lewis, Jack Del Rio and Brian Billick.
“And when it comes to teammates, I couldn’t have played with a better group of linebackers in Ray (Lewis) and Jamie Sharper and all those guys. So, I just had a lot of help and a lot of good people surrounding me. I think that’s a recipe for success.”
In 2009, Boulware and his wife, Kensy, who had made their home in Tallahassee, Florida, began searching for a recipe that would successfully strengthen the outlook of their children’s education.
“I’ve got five kids (Sommar, Jordan, Peter Jr., Christy and David) and I wanted them to have the best possible education they could get,” Boulware said. “I was in the community and saw a need in education. But even more than an education is putting kids in a situation where they learn leadership skills and learn how to be great people.
“We don’t have bad schools, but my goals were a little bit different. Not only should the schools teach these kids academically, but they should teach these kids how to be leaders and to have moral standards and values. These are just some of the things that the schools didn’t focus on. And so, I thought, you know what, my goal for my kids and the kids that I see; I want them to have more than just academic success. I want them to be well-rounded leaders. And to me, that’s more than the public schools were offering.”
While searching for a school that offered the educational and life skills criteria they wanted for their children to model, the Boulwares came across the Harvest Community School in Jacksonville.
“We visited that program and fell in love with it,” Boulware said. “We liked what they were producing. We liked the spiritual aspect. We liked the moral aspect. We liked how the kids responded to the teachers. Respect. Yes, ma’am. Yes, sir.
“We saw that and we were like, ‘Wow, this is absolutely incredible. This is what we want for our kids.’ Thank God, we didn’t have to go out there and try to reinvent the wheel or try to create something out of thin air.
“We were homeschooling our kids and realized that they needed a little bit more than just being at home with us. They love being around other kids, they love being around the classroom environment.
“The homeschooling was great because we could individualize the education, but we couldn’t provide the group environment that a classroom provides. So, we looked for this program and found it in Jacksonville and we brought it back to Tallahassee.”
In what began as a meeting with neighborhood parents in the Boulware’s living room became the Community Leadership Academy.
“I was pitching to these families about a private school. We had no track record, I just wanted them to kind of believe in the vision that we had, which is our vision statement: to raise the next generation of godly leaders,” Boulware said.
“We found a church that had a couple of rooms that were available and we just kind of went at it. Within three or four months, we put it together. It was a month before school was starting and we had promised all these parents, but we couldn’t find any teachers that would buy into what we were doing. And at the last moment, we found a few teachers that would do it.
“So, it was a rough beginning. It was a humble beginning. We did a lot of things wrong, but we can look back nine years later and say, you know what, thank God, we’re still here because our first year we made a lot of mistakes and it was pretty raggedly. But we’ve got a story to tell.”
That, they do. A Christian school, the academy opened in 2009 “with about 30 kids” and now has nearly 200 students in grades K-9. They’ve tweaked a few things now and then over the years and offer a unique combination of classroom and at-home schooling.
On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the academy operates like a regular school with all of the students being taught in classrooms. However, on Thursdays and Fridays, parents of the elementary students use a lesson plan prepared by the teachers and work with their children at home. In the middle school program, students have the option to attend the school four days a week and work at home with parents on Fridays.
“For those parents out there that say, ‘I like the concept of homeschooling, but I’m afraid of it. I don’t know how to pick out curriculum. I don’t know how to keep myself accountable. I don’t know how to pace myself.’ In our program, we say, ‘Look, if you’re willing to homeschool your kid on Thursdays and Fridays, we’ll put the tools and resources in your hand. We’ll provide the accountability,’” Boulware said.
“A lot of parents like it because they can take their child through that plan at that child’s pace. If that child needs a little bit extra in math, you don’t have to wait for the classroom. And if your child is a little faster or a little smarter in that subject, you can supplement that lesson plan.
“The goal for us was not just to teach the kids academically, but to teach the kids spiritually and morally. And teach them how to be incredible leaders. That was my passion.
“I never thought in a million years that I would be in private education, but I’ve been doing it for nine years and I love it. I love seeing kids grow, grow their faith, grow their leadership and also grow academically. It’s just been a great journey for us.”