Our newsletters often highlight the cool activities that our students experience week to week at New Summit Academy.
But it felt important to also highlight the PEOPLE that our students get to experience and interact with on a regular basis. Everyone who visits our Atenas campus expresses how amazing it is that our team functions like a well-oiled machine.
Yet, we’re not a machine. We are a network of hearts and souls dedicated to making our community a better place - one where students feel seen, heard, challenged, and supported to be their best self -- a self that opens their mind to experience, learns from mistakes, and sets goals and achieves them.
What makes this possible isn’t great leadership or air tight protocols (although we have those too). It’s the people who make NSA their home - day in and day out - and give their energy, intelligence, and hard work to make New Summit Academy, approaching its 15th year, what it is today.
We hope you enjoy some stats about NSA staff:
--Total number of Employees: 49.5 (the .5 reflects a couple of part-time employees)
--Youngest 25, Oldest 73
--6 under age 30
--20 age 30-40
--18 age 40-50
--6 age 50-60
--1 age 60+
Again, what a beautiful balance of age and experience to guide our students through what often feels like a difficult stage of life - adolescence!
--28% of our Employees have worked for over 10 years at NSA (14) - Yes, that’s right! Almost 1/3 of our staff have been at NSA for over a decade!
--28% (14) Employees have worked for 5-10 years at NSA
--16% (8) Employees have worked for 3-5 years at NSA
--28% (14) Employees have worked for under 3 years at NSA
We are very proud that we have such great retention of employment -- 56% of our staff have been working at NSA for over 5 years!
We have such a mix of experienced veterans and new professionals who bring creative ideas and lots of fresh energy to our campus.
And 32% of our Employees are female, which lends a nice balance to an all-male school.
These statistics may not mean much to you, but they mean a lot to us. Our future newsletters will be highlighting some of these wonderful people who make NSA what it is - an amazing growth experience for our students!
Each year, NSA has the rare opportunity for all of our faculty and staff to gather in one place to improve our efforts of supporting our students and promoting their growth. This September, staff met for a full week of workshops and trainings in topics that included:
• Student Areas of Attention
• Safety and Confidentiality
• Emergency Protocols and Drills
• Organizational Sensitivity
• The Self, Community and Future Teams and Processes
After a long but successful week, our staff gathered once more to watch a video put together by Stephen, our photography and documentary film teacher, filled with expressions of thanks from graduates and their families with whom we have worked throughout the years.
Many thanks to those who sent in letters and videos, and a special thank you to all of our team, who continue improving the good work that we do!
This month, the team at New Summit Academy will gather for our yearly all-staff workshop and training week in our efforts to continue to improve the services that we offer to students and their families.
As part of that week, we thought that hearing from our families who have graduated from NSA and sharing those communications with our staff would help them to realize that they are doing and continue to do great work, and that their efforts make real changes in the lives of our students and their families.
We couldn’t help sharing a few of those communications:
--- “When we brought (our son) to you, and sat in the cafeteria space meeting everyone for the first time, I became filled with hope that he would find the help and support he needed to sort out and heal from his confusion. NSA felt safe and warm to me; I felt at home from the first.”
--- “Rarely does a day go by where I don't think about NSA. In fact, today I was wearing my NSA t-shirt while at the gym! Every person I met at NSA and got to know, impress me. This is very unusual for any organization. NSA has been important for (our son) and our family. I believe he was at his best there with you all. This has been a true gift for us. Bless each and every one of you. We love you all! ”
---- “(Our son) let go of the old, sad, negative self-image and tried and accomplished something new!! THANKS!!! I believe you ALL are the TRUE teachers of this world!! These are not adequate words to express my gratitude to all of YOU!!! Much love.”
--- “As I sit here thinking of special memories from our time at NSA, I feel warmth and love for each and every one: pulling the most delicious mangoes I’ve ever eaten from the lush trees, watching boys struggle to overcome their demons, connecting with parents who were in as much pain as we were and having no idea how we got there or what would come next, feeling silly trying to dance with Diana while full of joy at watching my son participate, sitting in awe of the leadership of NSA with a clear vision and passion for helping lost boys become confident young men. We learned how we got there and how to heal and to move forward with the tools and support of every person at NSA, including the staff, faculty, and even the other students.”
--- “Magic is happening at NSA and we are so grateful to have been touched by it."
by Dr. Danny Recio & Andy Myers (Oct 2016)
Check out this great presentation by Dr. Danny Recio and Andy Myers - given at the Young Adult Transition Association conference in October 2016 in Idaho, USA. You will learn a lot about the psychological and social benefits of an appropriate, supportive cross-cultural immersion experience on growth and complexity.
"Therapeutic Educational Experiences" (similar version published in We Are NATSAP newsletter October 2016)
by Dr. Heather Tracy, Ed.M., Ed.D., Executive Director at New Summit Academy & The Bridge – Costa Rica
During the admissions process at therapeutic boarding schools, there is no shortage of educational symptoms listed: Grades declined. Skipped classes. Suspended. Fell into a negative peer group at school. Bullied. Whatever the case may be, what happens at school is often framed as a symptom of a deeper clinical issue that is the true reason for seeking treatment. What is often not highlighted is just how integrated an adolescent’s educational and personal development experiences actually are. The up side to all of this is that education does not solely serve to alert us to symptoms needing clinical attention, but
rather educational experiences can be important facilitators of healing and growth as well.
What could be more therapeutic than...
Each and every one of these examples is representative of how New Summit Academy is not just filling up students’ days with scores on tests and credits on transcripts. NSA's teachers and administrators work tirelessly to create “therapeutic” educational experiences for our students. We do this believing that someday soon other schools will catch on to the idea that therapeutic education is not just healing what has “gone wrong” for our students; instead, it is what education is meant to be at its core – an experience that facilitates learning about ourselves, each other, and the world around us so that we might meaningfully contribute in our own unique and positive way.
The staff and students – led by our Experiential Education mentor and health advocate Jaime – are engaged in a campaign to bring more mindfulness to the foods we eat at NSA. Our chefs have always prepared wonderful meals and are excited about the new opportunities for learning healthy, balanced recipes that include whole grains and brown rice, more plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils and garbanzos, and limiting meat to once a day.
Ecological Stewardship is our Global Citizenship focus this quarter, and students have been able to witness putting this into practice, as phase two of our solar panel installation was completed.
Modeling Eco-Stewardship is an important facet in our mission to develop global citizens, and this project – developed in two phases – is a big part of those efforts. Phase one consisted of installing solar water heaters on dormitory roofs. Water is traditionally heated in Costa Rica with electricity, and since our students love their long, hot showers, these solar heaters have cut our monthly electricity usage by some 35%.
Phase two of the project was the installation of dozens of solar cells on the roof of our Academic Building. The power generated by these panels should cover nearly all of our campus electrical needs, dramatically reducing our carbon footprint!
New Summit Academy is continually working to innovate and provide the best possible experiences for all of our students, parents, staff and educational partners. Each year, the Academic, EE and Personal Growth departments all set goals for improving our program. 2015 was a fantastic year for the New Summit Academy community – with achievements including:
2016 is looking to be a banner year for us as well, and as we develop our goals – guided by our organizational values – we would like to thank our community of students, families, educational consultants, faculty and staff, homestay families and the community of Atenas for the support and dedication they have provided to make New Summit Academy the amazing program it is today.
Blog authors may be students, staff, parents or colleagues. We're all-inclusive! Just enjoy!