Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship: A Bonnie Experience

May 21, 2019

by Barbra Payne, Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship Parent

It’s been about Bonnie. Not to minimize the hard work and dedication of all the staff of the Caroline D. Bradley (CDB) Scholarship and Institute of Educational Advancement (IEA) to whom we are eternally grateful, our appreciation for the life-changing generosity of the program or the support of the amazing community. But when our family thinks about CDB, it is about Bonnie.

A little background: our son was seven years old when he rocketed out of his first Academy lecture, never before so engaged and excited about a class. He spoke animatedly about Higgs Boson, van der Waals, Schrondinger’s cat… topics for which we ‘muggle thinking’ parents were only vaguely familiar and could barely understand.

But IEA understood. They understood what exceptional kids needed – high level learning. They understood what the parents needed – a setting where they could talk about their kids without the ‘eye roll’ upon mention of the word gifted. Prior, we struggled to find that place – an outlet for his ever-expanding mind and our need for resources and community. We consulted with teachers, moved schools, skipped grades but all these tacks, however helpful, were never the answer. IEA was. With instructors like Dr. Rose and Dr. Travouillon, who never taught down, who always met these minds where they were – beyond.

And so. IEA was there when we needed it in his younger years. We wondered, what for high school? Of course this is where CDB, and Bonnie, enter the story. What seemed like the miracle of the CDB scholarship – four years of a funded high school education of his choice, the inclusion into a select and supportive community – became other worldly when Jake began the process of his high school search. Only then did we realize the kind of advocacy that came along with the experience. It is to say the least that through the daunting task of disentangling the myriad of choices, Bonnie became a lifeline. Not just in terms of the invaluable information she imparted, but the way in which she made us feel less alone in the process; she let us know that she (and CDB as a whole), had Jake’s back. There was nothing generic in her feedback, it was always with Jake in mind – who he is, what he needed – and always with an unconditional voice of kindness and reason. If music soothes the savage beast, Bonnie calms the angst of many teens (and their parents) as they pivot into an essential phase of their lives.

It was no surprise then, upon attending the Bradley Seminar, we heard the familiar refrain of The Bonnie Experience (as I have now affectionately dubbed it) in the senior speeches – the acknowledgement of the many who had the luck to be taken under her wing. How many people are capable of making each and every child feel so uniquely seen? I highlight Bonnie because this does indeed, encapsulate our experience with CDB: one that wraps an unimaginable opportunity in a package of warmth and unparalleled care.

We are thankful to the entire CBD community – staff, scholars, families – for their generosity of spirit and friendship. We look forward to our ongoing relationships, and to giving back, in the years to follow.

For more information about the CDB Scholarship and to learn how your child can apply, visit the CDB webpage.