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!
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!
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
This month, NSA’s newest club – the Birdwatching Club – took it upon themselves to organize a weekend trip into the cloud forests of Costa Rica.
The trip coincided with the nesting season of one of Central America’s most stunning and most elusive avian species: the Resplendent Quetzal.
Students and staff departed for the forested mountains on Friday, with the plan to rise early the next morning for the best quetzal spotting opportunity.
After a sunrise yoga session led by one of our Case Managers, Andrea, the group began scanning the lush foliage for their prize.
They identified dozens of different species and, in the end, their efforts paid off with a male quetzal displaying its iridescent plumage to the group for over 20 minutes. Nice work, birders!
This February’s round of Integrated Aventuras engaged students in hiking, rafting, swimming, service work, and other amazing opportunities. While the physical challenge and natural beauty of NSA’s Aventuras are often highlighted in stories and photos, these experiences offer our students so much more.
These reasons, combined with the physical challenge and connection with nature, are why NSA’s Integrated Aventuras are some of the most meaningful and impactful experiences for all of our students, and why our alumni continue to speak about them 10 years after graduation!
With challenging and enriching academic days, Honor Council, SCAFA Team meetings, physical education, evening therapeutic groups, and nightly homework, NSA students certainly look forward to some fun and relaxation on the weekends.
Our Experiential Education team works closely with Student Council to design and schedule a variety of activities over the weekends, ranging from outdoor pursuits to cultural activities, and from trips to the movies to community service. Here is a sample of activities that our students have enjoyed in just the past two weeks:
This month, students visited a cacao plantation to join in on the chocolate-making process and also spent time learning about Costa Rica’s indigenous past at the Gold Museum.
A nearby river filled with pools and natural rock slides is always a hit for our students!
Students often look forward to action-packed days on the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica, where they can be found body surfing, playing soccer on the sand, and flying kites!
Our students and staff recently pitched in at Hogar de Ancianos, our local retirement home, helping for the day in the laundry room.
Pure Go-Karting and Paintball Fun
Competition gets fierce when NSA students get behind the wheel or on the paintball field!
Weekends may be just as busy as weekdays at NSA, but these student-driven activities let the young men recharge and be ready for each coming week!
Blog authors may be students, staff, parents or colleagues. We're all-inclusive! Just enjoy!