At 15, American Hebrew Academy Ready to Expand

At 15, American Hebrew Academy Ready to Expand

David R. Cohen

David R. Cohen is the former Associate Editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times. He is originally from Marietta, GA and studied Journalism at the University of Tennessee.

The world’s only international college preparatory Jewish boarding school is a five-hour drive from Atlanta in Greensboro, N.C., and last year celebrated its 15th anniversary.

Now with students from 26 states and 18 countries, the American Hebrew Academy, a nondenominational Jewish school founded in 2001, is looking toward the future.

“We started AHA with a totally new concept in Jewish education, which I will say most naysayers thought would never succeed,” CEO Glenn Drew said. “It clearly has succeeded 15 years later, best measured as the only international college preparatory Jewish boarding school in the world. Enrollment over the years has now grown to 50 percent students from the U.S. and 50 percent countries around the world.”

Sitting on a 100-acre lakefront campus, the school in Greensboro has a capacity for 400 students, but Drew said AHA is close to going forward with Phase 2 of its master plan, which will double the capacity to 800 students.

Students attend AHA from as far away as Russia, Moldova, Ukraine and Australia.

“International families still want access to the United States of America for their children,” Drew said. “Regardless of their success overseas, the U.S. is still a point of incredible attraction, particularly for Jewish families.”

The school draws students from Atlanta and from the Jewish community of Greensboro.

The nondenominational school has a kosher kitchen and offers multiple options for Shabbat services. Specialized programs in English are offered for international students, as are complete preparation and full support for admission to U.S. universities.

“Ultimately, all of our families come to the same conclusion,” Drew said, “and that is American families are seeking high-quality Jewish education that will gain their children access to the most prestigious universities in the U.S. But they also see the need for their children to be exposed to an international environment, given the economic and global reality in which we all live.”

In addition to the academic facilities, AHA has an 88,000-square-foot athletic center, a soccer stadium, baseball fields, softball fields, multiple all-purpose fields and a track. Since 2010, the grounds of the school have hosted the 6 Points Sports Academy.

The academy is also home to the largest geothermal energy facility in the United States to power heating and air conditioning. The school has a recently built center for plant science and ecology that is used for research in hydroponics, aquaculture and water conservation.

“The academy has always had a deep concern for tikkun olam,” Drew said. “Its campus was designed with an environmental focus in mind.”

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