A School Within a School: The Glenbrook Academy

Students in a unique academic program at the Glenbrook schools discover community after a summer of grieving.

The following story was provided by District 225.

Across District 225, on August 23, students filled the halls of and high schools for the first time after a particularly challenging summer. 

The months usually consumed with vacations and relaxation had been broken up by a handful of inexplicable events that touched the lives of many in the Northbrook and Glenview communities — , , and .

So on the rainy Thursday morning, as students of the Glenbrook Academy of International Studies gathered in the Student Activities Center at GBS, they were greeted with a personal story from the program’s director Matt Whipple about the strength of the Glenbrook community.

"I’ve spent more than half my life here and it took me 28 years to have a tough (year),” he said while speaking about the recent loss of four of his family members.  “And the beauty of being here during that time was I had a lot of good friends in this building… people I knew well. I also had a lot of people I didn’t necessarily know well, but I developed a respecting relationship with them. And I could count on them even if I didn’t call them my closest friends.”

Founded in 1981, the Glenbrook Academy of International Studies is a nationally recognized program that links the teaching and learning of English, foreign language and social studies to help provide students with a more global understanding of international issues.

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Much differently than other programs in the district, the Academy combines students from both GBN and GBS who, in eighth grade, are selected as qualified applicants. They begin their freshmen year and remain in the program throughout all four years of high school.

It is here that they are exposed to different type of academic rigor, standard and learning experience. The Academy is also a place that brings students together to form a unique bond.

And, as Whipple touched on, it is these types of relationships that become essential during difficult events.

“…I found myself having to do some leaning on others, which was an uncomfortable place to be. It was an awkward thing to do — to say I might need you to help me a little bit because things are a little tougher than I am prepared to deal with,” he said. “And I made it through last year because of the kindness, compassion and caring of the people around me."

Tracy Katz-Muhl, an Academy graduate of the class of 1994, who works as an attorney in private practice, further expressed this message of togetherness while addressing the group. 

She spoke fondly of teachers who changed her life, shared stories about her peers who have carved out their own places in American history and her drive to make a change in the world, particularly around issues of equality, which began early on in the Academy.

To Katz-Muhl, the Academy was a program that truly helped shape her future. And with more than 100 students enrolled this year, she encouraged them to take advantage of the unique experience that likely will extend beyond high school.


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