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Megan GuttersohnJanuary 11, 20244 min read

How Corlears Instilled Lifelong Values and Self-Confidence

"Corlears helped me grow into the type of person that could do so many things," says Max Bremner, '13, currently a junior at Duke University. "Looking back, I don't think I would be the same if I had attended any other school.”

At Corlears School, we follow a whole-child approach to learning that is not limited to grades, homework, and achievement. Part of what makes Corlears graduates so successful in their school journey beyond fifth grade is our commitment to social emotional learning in the classroom. As students develop skills including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and how to have healthy relationships, they are empowered with the confidence to reach their fullest potential. 

In an interview with Max Bremner, a Corlears alum from the class of 2013 and current junior at Duke University, we had the opportunity to delve into the profound impact that Corlears had on his personal growth and educational journey thanks to the school’s unique approach to learning.

Fostering Curiosity and Building Self-Confidence

When Max was at Corlears 10 years ago, the school nurtured his diverse range of interests and instilled in him a sense of curiosity that has lasted into his college years. Math, music, politics, computer science, psychology — they were all in the running when he considered college majors.

Ultimately, Max landed on becoming a public policy major with a minor in computer science, marrying his academic interests in a meaningful and impactful way.

He credits Corlears School's multidisciplinary approach – where units of study and themes are integrated across subject areas – with his ability to develop a passion for many subjects.

"Corlears helped me grow into the type of person that could do so many things. Looking back, I don't think I would be the same if I had attended any other school,” he says. 

Max emphasized the importance Corlears placed on independent thinking and valuing the exploration of the "why" behind things, noting that his experience here encouraged him to be an active participant in his own education.

Being an engaged learner is the result of feeling comfortable asking questions, making mistakes, and having the freedom to pursue interests without fear of judgment or competition. Developing this sense of self and resilience as a learner at Corlears has served him especially well in a highly competitive academic environment such as Duke.

“One of the things about going to a very competitive institution is that many of the students here are achievement-oriented — they’ve never received a B in their life. In some ways, they aren’t as well-rounded,” he explains. “I always think about how Corlears played a role in helping me figure out my priorities in life, who I wanted to be, who I wanted to look like in 20 years. I really valued more than just my homework and more than just a grade.”

Max as a student at Corlears School.
Max's graduation photo from 2013.
Max today as a student at Duke University.

Where Academics Meets Values

Max excels in numerous subjects and consistently demonstrates strong academic performance, which has led to his enrollment at Duke University.

In addition to the academic foundation he built at Corlears, one of the standout aspects of the school, according to Max, is the strong sense of community that students develop during their time here. The caring teachers, supportive friends, and inclusive environment create a safe and nurturing space for personal growth. 

“The sense of belonging is hard to find in a lot of ways in the world,” he says. “Corlears kids go out and find it and want to contribute to their own communities.”

Max emphasized that Corlears greatly influenced the way he interacts with others and approaches social situations with compassion. The school's focus on empathy, understanding others, and building meaningful connections has shaped Max's ability to not only communicate effectively and establish genuine relationships, but to today study public policy as a way to make change in the world.

“Community is a big pillar in my life, and that is definitely because of Corlears,” Max shares. “It was the way community is valued. You’re growing up a part of the community. Everybody knows each other and wants what’s best for each other.”

The Corlears Legacy

Corlears has instilled in Max a sense of confidence and ownership over his education that will stay with him throughout his life. He looks back on his time at Corlears fondly and regards it as a place where students can develop their identities while also receiving a high-quality education.

Today, Max continues to embody the values instilled in him at Corlears. He spent his most recent summer volunteering with an advocacy organization that helps nurses and midwives enter politics and run for office, hoping to make change in healthcare and specifically women’s healthcare.

“I want to help people and I want to create some form of meaningful change,” he says. “Our political climate makes it apparent there’s a lack of empathy in politics right now.”

Max's experience leaves no doubt about the enduring influence of Corlears School on its students. From individual learning styles to fostering curiosity, building a strong sense of community, and promoting lifelong values, the Corlears experience shapes students into engaged, empathetic individuals.

"My time at Corlears was an influential time in my life," Max says. As his journey continues, he carries with him the invaluable lessons and experiences gained at Corlears. His story is a testament to the power of an education that values each student as an individual and embraces their unique talents and passions.

Share your Corlears story!

We are proud of our alumni and their accomplishments! Whether you're an alum who has special memories of your time at Corlears, or you now have an interesting career that was inspired by what you learned here, we want to hear it. Email us to share!


Megan Guttersohn

Megan Guttersohn is the Communications Director at Corlears School. She has a Bachelor's in Journalism. Prior to Corlears, she worked as a reporter and nonprofit communicator. Since she joined Corlears in 2019, her ultimate mission has been to connect our families with the timely, clear, and consistent messages they need to be informed and get involved.