The FMS Advantage: Personal touch guides cadets on college path

A group of young men in military fatigues are amassed outside Dan Baranik’s office. He has test scores to share.

“I got a 90?” one said in obvious surprise.

His comrades didn’t do as well. One said he “still has some work to do.” The others focused their energies on the cadet with the high score.

“This is every day for me,” said Baranik, the guidance director at Fishburne Military School, whose mission, as the job title would suggest, is to guide cadets at FMS on to a path to a successful, productive adulthood.

The advantage that Baranik has over counselors in public-school settings is part and parcel to the culture at Fishburne.

“I can see them at breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Baranik, who makes it a point to break bread regularly with cadets in the mess hall, where the social interaction gives Baranik a much better feel for the cadets who come to his office looking for academic guidance.

“There’s a trust, there’s a confidence, there’s a personal relationship there that develops,” Baranik said.

The personal relationship between cadet and counselor develops in the mess hall and in the guidance office and is cemented over time. The focus on what will be up next for cadets at FMS begins in their freshman year with the first of a series of required standardized tests that will prepare students for the important SAT and ACT tests that will come up later on.

The end goal is a lofty one. “We want every student that leaves Fishburne to have a college opportunity,” said Baranik, noting that the 2012 senior class has already had 65 acceptances for the college Class of 2013.

With more and more jobs requiring a college degree, it’s clearly essential that the students of today get that leg up to be able to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.

“For parents, for students, that creates anxiety. My job is to say, We can manage this, we can get through it. But we’ve got to plot it. This is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. But there are things we can do to get your son into position to be able to compete. Now, let’s get to it,” Baranik said.


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