BA: Teaching Kids First, Curriculum Second

When children learn in small-class settings, they tend to reach higher levels of achievement and develop strong social connections with their fellow students. While the average class size in schools across the country is 26.2 students, research indicates that children learn best when that number is 20 or fewer.

This is why Breakaway Academy emphasizes small class sizes, allowing for one-on-one interaction between students and their teachers. This leads to an environment in which educators can teach their students first—with a high-quality curriculum being a close second.

Why small class sizes matter

Small class sizes offer a range of benefits to children, and perhaps the most important is accelerated academic achievement. Although achievement is often also influenced by other factors, such as the experience of teachers and the value of curriculum, studies have shown that decreasing the number of students in a classroom can drastically improve achievement, starting from an early age.

One of the most notable studies was the Student Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR), first conducted in the 1980s in Tennessee. Researchers compared student achievement in class sizes of 15 versus 22 students and found that those in the smaller classes achieved at rates that were the equivalent to three more months of schooling.

It’s easy to see why this would happen. With fewer students in the classroom, teachers can spend more time working each learner individually to address his or her academic needs and interests. Children also tend to build stronger relationships with their peers, feel more confident and learn important life lessons when engaged in a small-class environment.

Teachers, meanwhile, don’t have to worry about managing a large number of students in their classrooms, which improves morale and allows them to offer a more supportive and personalized learning environment. They can spend more time getting to know their students and how they learn best.

When we consider all the evidence, we can see that fewer students in a classroom goes beyond the quality of the curriculum (which is certainly important, as well). Small class sizes help teachers impart in their students a high standard of critical and creative thinking. These lessons can have a major impact on young people as they grow up and learn how to navigate life.

Our mission to help students succeed

At Breakaway Academy, small class sizes allow students to connect with their teachers and engage in a truly supportive classroom environment. Quality time and positive connections help students harness their true passions and grow as young learners.  

To that end, we are focused not only on the curriculum, but also on the small things that make an incredible difference for children in the long term. It’s at the core of our mission to meet the diverse learning needs of all our students and dedication to academic growth.

BA Alumni Clay Hanus Commits to the U of Minnesota

Congratulations to BA Alum Clay Hanus, (a teammate of Gopher commit and also BA Alum ) Mike Koster on the Minnesota U16 Blades is considered to be one of the best MN-born defensemen in his age group. A left hand shot listed at 5’10”, 165 lbs, he is the son of former SCSU forward Tim Hanus (1988-1992).

Breakaway Academy’s Staff Continues to Grow— Two Trainers Join BA

Christian Burrus

Christian started his career at Harvard University as a strength and conditioning intern.  He began specializing in ice hockey in 2010 when he started working with the Chicago Blackhawks during their training camp, prospect camp, and NHL Combine.
In 2012, Christian became the Strength and Conditioning Coach at the Breck School, and in 2014 became the dryland trainer at Breakaway Academy. Since 2014 he has also trained NHL, AHL, and European pro hockey players in the off-season. In addition, Christian contributes his expertise through his website where he posts workouts, blog articles, nutrition and hydration guidelines, and recovery protocols. In July of 2016, Christian took a position as the Developmental Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Darren Lapic

Darren graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a degree in Exercise Physiology in 2016. He is dedicated to the development of young athletes and helping them reach their goals.  Darren is a former college hockey player for Gustavus Adolphus College, playing in the 2013-2016 seasons.  Previously, he was a strength and conditioning coach at Ignition Fitness and Sport and 1st Athlete. Besides being a dryland coach at Breakaway Academy, he works with the Minnesota Wild at their training camp to help test players for the upcoming season. His career goal is to be a strength and conditioning coach in the NHL.

Breakaway Academy students are off to a great start!


Check out all the great learning going on at Breakaway Academy at our Bi-Weekly Newsletter  – click HERE to view.

All BA students have written their first of 10 papers for the year! Topic one was on a MN Wild player, and now all of our students will be attending the MN Wild Training Camp on Friday September 23 at the Xcel Center.

Monday students were given a baseline test on skating speed. Our training this year will guarantee that their on ice speed will increase! Tuesday all the athletes were videotaped, so they can watch how to improve their hockey skills.  Wednesday students were taught correct off ice training techniques and will learn how to graph their improved results.  Thursday BA Skating coach Kathleen Gazich, Scoring coach Paul Ranheim, and Stick Handle coach Avi Friedman worked small groups Friday BA athletes watched NHL greats create space on the rink and practiced those same skills during their training time!

Congratulations to BA Alum Kaden Bohlsen

BreakAway Academy Alum and current Shattuck-St. Mary’s forward Kaden Bohlsen verbally committed to the Gophers, he announced on Twitter Monday, April 19th 2016.  Bohlsen, a Willmar, Minn., native, is the first 2001-born recruit committed to the Gophers. Though only 15 years old, he is listed at 6’0, 155-pounds and touted as a big-bodied physical presence.

“Kaden has  a great future in hockey ahead of him” says BreakAway Academy founder and teacher Dave Snuggerud.  “He was a great student while he attended BA, and we all look forward to watching him grow.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune article is here.

Hudson Fasching – Breakaway Hockey Alum scores in NHL debut

Breakaway Hockey Alum and Buffalo Sabres forward Hudson Fasching scored Saturday, March 26th,  in the first period of his first NHL game, a 3-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets

He beat Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson at 8:37 to cut the Sabres’ deficit to 2-1. He carried the puck down the left wing, fought through a check by defenseman Jacob Trouba, cut to the net and scored from in front.

Fasching, 20, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Sabres. He recently completed his third season with the University of Minnesota. He had 20 goals and 38 points in 37 NCAA games.

The goal was assisted by defensemen Mark Pysyk and Casey Nelson, the latter of whom also was making his NHL debut after finishing his third collegiate season with Minnesota State University-Mankato. Nelson signed an entry-level contract Tuesday.

Full article here. 


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