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!
NSA students are beginning the quarter by planning for their continued growth with their SCAFA (which stands for Self, Community, and Future) Teams.
On the first day of each quarter, NSA has a special schedule that allows students to each meet with their Academic Advisor, Experiential Education Mentor, and Case Manager – who make up their SCAFA Team – to review their quarterly goal plans and set concrete steps to achieve those goals.
When not attending SCAFA Meetings, students are working to unpack from their home visits or Recreational Aventuras, organizing their iPads for the upcoming quarter, participating in community service in Atenas, and expending some adolescent energy on the basketball court, on the soccer field, or in the gym.
SCAFA Day is one way we work to set up our students for success this quarter!
New Summit Academy celebrated a very special graduation day this spring, as we proudly sent eight young men into the world, prepared for success.
This graduating class served as leaders and role models for our students, and every student graduated with honors – a feat never before seen at NSA!
These students have been hard at work this past quarter, writing and polishing their transition plans, working side-by-side with their families to come to agreements on their plans, and meeting with the Transition Team and administrative staff to complete a final review. The grads then took one final trip together, celebrating their accomplishments at the summit of Chirripo, the highest peak in Costa Rica.
Some of our recent graduates will return to finish high school, while our senior graduates will be attending Juniata College, The University of Denver, Lehigh University, and the University of Oregon.
Congratulations to these amazing young men; we look forward to their many successes!
NSA has always believed that non-traditional education is the most effective way to reach a greater variety of learners and to better prepare them for our rapidly-evolving world. We have spent the past 15 years engaging students in experiential, collaborative, problem-based learning, and now we are sharing it with the world!
This May, Heather Tracy and Martin Naffziger, our Executive Director and Director of Learning and Outcomes, traveled to Chicago to present: Why (and How) Non-Traditional Education Must Be the New Traditional.
The presentation, given in front of a crowd of diverse educators, outlined the trends in adolescents and the world we are preparing them for, and how a different set of skills must be developed to best set them up for success.
While in Chicago, we also had the chance to host a current and alumni parent meet-up, sharing updates and memories. Families of graduates from as far back as 2013 met and mingled with families of students graduating this May, so it was a truly special occasion.
Thanks to all of our families for your continued support!
Our May 2020 graduating class consists of nine young men who have left an indelible, positive impact on our community. That impact has been felt outside the walls of NSA, especially at our local children’s home Hogar de Vida.
These grads, and many of their peers, have dedicated afternoons and weekends throughout their stay to build connections with the children through play, sing-alongs, art projects, games and just having fun.
This week, the graduates carried ice cream and cake to the children for one final afternoon of fun. The children had plenty of hugs for our graduates, who have gained so much from their experiences with Hogar de Vida.
Many thanks to Daisy, who continues to facilitate our ongoing relationship with this tremendous organization!
This past week, students returned from Integrated Aventuras in the rainforests and cloud forests of Costa Rica with stories to tell. Some of the highlights of the trips included:
• Working hard on mangrove reforestation projects along the shores of the Golfo Dulce
• Learning techniques for finding the highest quality coconuts
• Developing the most efficient teamwork techniques for moving 4.5 cubic meters of gravel over two busy days to create rainy season-resistant flooring for new trails
• Having the wind and current at their backs and high tides that coincided with arriving and leaving camp which made loading and unloading gear much easier
• Seeing a pod of at least 30 dolphin at sunrise while crossing the Golfo Dulce
• Catching mackerel, red snapper and tuna, and spotting sea turtles, different sting rays and even a whale shark!
• Creating the perfect shelter in a two-hour “team-building” exercise (though it miraculously didn’t rain, so the final design unfortunately wasn’t put to the ultimate test)
• Celebrating two student birthdays, marked by setting an NSA record completing an excruciating 3km hike in just 37 minutes
• On the last day of Aventura, making a bonfire by the river and roasting s’mores Costa Rican style
• Students being vulnerable with each other about the bittersweet feelings of moving on, processing the great connections they’ve made during their time at NSA and preparing for the transition as graduation approaches
The recent student benefit concert and fundraiser, SummitFest, turned out to be a major success. Students have been volunteering at Caritas – a local soup kitchen that feeds up to 60 people per day. A lack of a freezer and needed supplies make their efforts challenging, and students recognized that need. Funds raised online and at the concert were used to purchase a new refrigerator, a deep freezer, and contribute to the ongoing food needs of the organization.
The delivery of the new appliances was overseen by our Experiential Education staff, Miguel, who also helped guide the students in organizing the concert. Great work, Miguel and NSA students!
Blog authors may be students, staff, parents or colleagues. We're all-inclusive! Just enjoy!