Captain Bo Korpman '12

It’s a gift to be able to reflect upon one’s life and pinpoint a truly-formative experience. As I look back on my thirteen years at Franklin Road Academy, however, it’s clear that the molding and shaping I underwent there spanned not just a singular moment but an entire childhood. Now fully committed to a military career, it’s no surprise that I find myself mirroring the value of service that FRA embodies so strongly. In my volunteering, it’s only fitting that I now strive to invest in our nation’s youth the same way dozens of exceptional teachers invested in me. A decade after graduating, I cannot help but notice the pattern of FRA bettering itself as an independent school and continuing to shape its students into exceptional young people.

After FRA, I attended Vanderbilt University, where I majored in political science and philosophy. The writing and critical thinking foundation FRA gave me were instrumental in my success there, and I was privileged to have no qualms about my ability to speak publicly after more than a decade of FRA opportunities to engage in public speaking while pursuing student council opportunities, performing with the choir, and helping lead our hockey team to a championship in 2012. Following a quick master’s degree, I went through Air Force Euro-NATO pilot training, taught combat pilots from all over Europe for three years as an instructor after that, and am now preparing to join America’s oldest fighter squadron as an F-22 pilot. There’s no doubt in my mind that my time at FRA was instrumental in getting me into the most capable fighter jet the world has ever seen.

FRA empowers its students and prepares them for life after their college preparatory years. And while I owe so much of the success I found to my time in the university and beyond, what keeps me coming back to visit the school and engaging with the FRA community runs much deeper. Academia is only one part of the equation, and it’s the extra mile of arts, athletics, character-building—and, most importantly—individualized consideration that sets our school apart. A contrarian by nature, there was never a moment at FRA that I didn’t feel seen; there was never a teacher who, regardless of the difference in belief or thought, didn’t go out of his or her way to understand me and challenge me to deepen my understanding and push the boundaries of my learning. No one embodies this more powerfully than M. (Monsieur) Climer.

M. Climer is-—after college, grad school, and half a decade of Air Force schooling and instruction—the best teacher I have had and will ever have. In my first Air Force assignment as an instructor pilot, I strove to embody his uncompromising commitment to excellence, mastery, and polymathic character. As a testament to the quality of his teaching, I use my French to this day for special military assignments. His teaching isn’t a job but a service, and he serves with a commitment and selflessness that would be at home in the most demanding of military specialties.

FRA is, indeed, an institution of service. Service projects, community outreach, and serving the students growing up within its walls define how I have seen FRA invest in each generation of young people. Beyond my flying duties, I volunteer weekly with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), the civilian arm of the USAF. Somewhat like Boy/Girl Scouts but with a military flavor, I’ve had the privilege of leading, flying, and shaping youth across the United States.

No other program allows kids to fly planes, lead, and pursue STEM opportunities like CAP; frankly, the time I spend volunteering there is the most rewarding part of each of my weeks. Though my “kiddos” go on to pursue diverse career paths, I am always proud to impart the meaning that military service has upon a young America that is awash with an overwhelming number of opportunities and a search for self-actualization that is uniquely difficult in an age of endless internet connections and awareness. Two of FRA’s defining qualities, leadership and service, are invaluable in every walk of life

The military has asked me to move four times just in 2022. After a career of moves and travel, the word “home” has taken on a very different meaning. A wise old fighter pilot once told me, “It’s not places that make a home; it’s people.” FRA isn’t merely a place. It's people, while very different now from when I was a student, define the school and make it the home I return to every chance I get to come back to Nashville. The investment FRA made in me is one that I now try to pour back into each one of the airmen I lead. It was a true honor to speak at the Veteran’s Day ceremony in November; and despite the gravitas of the moment, the speech was effortless. This country’s love and respect for service is part of what makes the US extraordinary. I learned that at FRA, and I’m proud to know that the next generation of Franklin Road Academy students are following in that legacy. 

Captain Ralph "Bo" Korpman '12 is a United States Air Force F-22 pilot currently assigned to the 43rd Fighter Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Captain Korpman previously spent five years supporting the NATO combat pilot training mission at Sheppard Air Force Base, where he amassed 1,000 Air Force instructor pilot hours and was recognized in 2019 as the top instructor officer in the Air Force's 60,000-person education and training branch.

Captain Korpman attended FRA from kindergarten through 12th grade before receiving an Air Force R.O.T.C. scholarship and continuing his education at Vanderbilt University.  During his time at FRA, he served as vice president of National Honor Society, was a member of the hockey team, vocal ensemble, newspaper, and the 12-Year Club, and was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" by his peers.