I was very happy to read the fitting tribute to Howard Hanger by Brooke Randle in the June 5 edition of the Mountain Xpress [“Fare Thee Well: Jubilee! Founder Retiring After 30 Years”]. I wanted to reinforce Vicki Garlock’s quote from the article: “Howard is … one of the people who really made Asheville what it is” and honor his role in the founding of the French Broad River Academy in Asheville in 2009.
The sidebar on Page 10 (“A School is Born”) describes Howard’s founding of Hanger Hall in 1999 — a reputable single-sex middle school that was already well-established when the idea of creating an all-boys middle school in Asheville actualized. The French Broad River Academy was the idea of co-founder Will Yeiser, an educator with the goal of starting an an outdoor-education-based middle school for boys. The original idea for FBRA was to be a publicly funded, single-sex charter school.
After FBRA was denied a charter from the state, Howard Hanger provided invaluable experience, wisdom and inspiration for the formation of FBRA as an independent, tuition-funded, nonprofit private school. Hanger Hall served as an impetus for and de facto sister school of FBRA, which opened in August of 2009. Today FBRA Boys is celebrating the completion of its 10th year in operation, with FBRA Girls about to begin its fifth year operating in the River Arts District. FBRA Boys and FBRA Girls now serve 144 local students each year in grades six-eight, and the schools employ more than 30 full- and part-time employees.
Howard Hanger deserves credit as the “Godfather of FBRA.” Without his trailblazing work in the realm of single-sex education in the middle school years, FBRA might never have come to be. We are so grateful, Howard!
— David Byers
Co-founder, French Broad River Academy for Boys