NFA Off to a Good Start
NFA kicked off the school year with a positive round of activities and meetings, for faculty, staff, students, and families.
Teachers headed back to school on August 25. The morning session recognized new, student, and intern teachers and honored faculty and staff who met employment milestones at the Academy. Receiving tenure were faculty Laura Dance, Thomas Dufort, Kristie Leonard, Brian Martin, Thomas Moran, Alison Orcott, Abigail Piacenza, and Jason Rosen.
Fifteen members of the faculty and staff received a granite keepsake apple recognizing ten years of service. They included Cary Barry, Sharon Bohara, Meredith Bolt, Bryan Burdick, Maria Crooks, Karen Davenport-Diaz, Chad Johnson, Bryan Lawson, Sharon Malouf, Anastasia Orsini, Danielle Riley, Bryant Sheldon, Sandra Soucy, Lyndsie Sumner, and Christopher Staley.
Carrie Longo received a crystal desktop clock in in honor of her 25 years of dedicated work at NFA.
The highlight of the morning was recognition of Patrick Kirker, NFA’s 2014-15 Teacher of the Year. A member of the English Department, Kirker, is a fourteen veteran in his ninth year at NFA. Noted for his kind, compassionate, and engaging way with students and colleagues, Kirker is a peacemaker, at heart a musician, who brings to his classroom each day a briefcase brimming with ideas, and a heart filled with kindness.
Kirker’s speech was a moving tribute to “the greatest job in the world.”
Kirker praised his colleagues, saying, “…today is a day of new opportunities, a new beginning, if you will. But there is also something else here that is quite remarkable…Each and every one us has returned willingly, to take on a task of challenges that at times can seem insurmountable. The responsibilities before us as educators are immense. What I find remarkable is that each and every one of us in this room did not sign up for this job thinking it was going to be easy. We signed up for this job knowing it was going to be hard. We signed up for this job knowing that our physical, mental, and emotional limits would be tested each and every day. We signed up for this job knowing that we will be working seven days of the week, and literally 24 hours a day. But most importantly we signed up knowing that each and every day provides us an opportunity to change the life of a child, and if we can change the life of one child...then we have truly changed the world...and once again, that is why you folks are incredible, and this job so amazing.”
Parents and students were off to a good start also. Approximately 535 of NFA’s almost 2,350 students are ninth graders, and of that number 68% had attended pre-school conferences the previous week to learn about being a Wildcat ninth grader.
Beginning on August 27, ninth graders ended the week with a pep rally, featuring games and competitions complete with a teacher hula hoop contest. All ninth graders donned their first Class of 2018 NFA red t-shirt, and returned wearing them to campus Friday for their first dress down day.
Teachers had meetings and activities before the official start of school. NFA has become an active site for teacher training. Each year new faculty, interns, and student teachers receive hands on, practical, field experience in education.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction Denise Grant and New Teacher Coach Henry Laudone have put together a teacher induction program that is a model in the field.
In mid-July, the year-long induction program began with a voluntary meeting outlining the overall orientation program, the organization of the Academy, the schedule, the calendar, the process of observation and supervision, and the state mandated TEAM Program.
New faculty, interns, and student teachers spent two days on campus in mid-August. The first full day included morning sessions with and introduction of the Administrative Team, an overview of Campus Safety, a nuts and bolts session about student attendance, and a discussion about NFA READS! A panel of Student Service personnel from the Medical Center and School Based Health Clinic, Special Education, and Guidance addressed collaboration between classroom teachers and student services faculty for student success.
The second half-day session included a review of key points in the faculty handbook, an overview of EANFA, and a work session to learn NFA’s computer network.
After Lunch, a "Fairly New Faculty Panel" discussed their first year at NFA. Participating were science teachers Megan Frayne and Rebecca McVey, English teacher Gretchen Philbrick, and world language teacher Nathan Wheeler.
New London County Civil War Round Table
Connecticut State Historian Walter W. Woodward and Hurzah!, present “The Contest for a National Anthem During the Civil War: A Lecture and Musical Performance,” Sept. 8,7p.m, in the NFA’s Ensemble Room in the Frank Center.
The combined Powerpoint Lecture and Musical Performance tells the story of the contest for a new National anthem at the start of the American Civil War and of the outpouring of patriotic music created during the conflict. Accompanied by Rachel Smith and Steve Bustamante ( Hurzah!), this is a toe-tapping, thought provoking account of a little known but important Civil War event. The event is free and open to the public.
NFA’s first open house/parents’ night for families of current students will take place, 6-8:30 p.m., September 18. It is an introductory, back to school format in which parents follow their children’s schedule of classes to meet teachers and learn about course expectations.
September 19, is NFA’s first home game under newly installed permanent field lights. Don’t miss this milestone celebration called “NFA Shines,” beginning with ceremonial lighting in pre-game programming beginning at 6:30 p.m. Kickoff between the Wildcats and the East Lyme Vikings is 7 p.m. Lots more details next week.
FINAL THOUGHT: Francois de la Rochefoucauld says, “We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.”