The planning process for NSA’s first-ever professional development week involving members of all departments began more than a year ago, when a need for an integrated approach to training was identified. Staff members from all departments not only participated, but collaborated in the identification of themes for workshops and the development of engaging, hands-on learning opportunities.
Some of the themes of these important community-building workshops included: Communication, Work/Life Balance, Leadership Development, Diversity, and Supportive Immersion – the foundational approach which has guided our success at NSA from the start.
The week wasn’t all work, however, as each workshop integrated fun, relationship-building activities that promoted experiential learning. Faculty and Staff also dedicated an evening to further develop their interpersonal relationships at a celebratory all-staff dinner. The week was extremely valuable, and is certain to become a regular part of our professional development at NSA.
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.
Teachers and all of our staff work very hard to help students develop real skills for success. Every once in a while, one of our graduates reaches out to say thanks and to help make our jobs even more fulfilling. The message is important for our families of current seniors, as well as an example of college application success.
From a 2016 High School Graduate:
“I just wanted to write to tell you how much I appreciate the time you devoted towards helping me and my family during my college process over a year ago. That was a stressful, exciting and crucial time in my life where you did an impeccable job of helping me stay organized, write concise essays, and choose a school where I can continue to be academically successful. Not only that, but I am truly grateful for the academic skills that I learned while in Costa Rica and the curiosity of mine which was utilized in and out of the classroom like never before while at New Summit. As time continues I only appreciate these things more and more. From the bottom of my heart, I want to write to say thank you to you and all of the other teachers who have impacted my life and academic career in such a positive manner. I am also proud to say that I finished with a 3.46 GPA freshman year. I am continuing to expand my mind and curiosity here at Fordham inside the classroom.
Anyways, I hope to visit NSA soon but for now, I say hi and send my regards to the academic staff!" - Robbie
This past week, the NSA community – faculty and staff, students and families – gathered to celebrate the high school and NSA program graduation of two beloved students. The day was bittersweet, as both students became important contributors to our campus throughout their stays, helping guide their peers, developing a healthy milieu, and achieving amazing academic and personal growth.
These young men are each setting out for very different, but equally exciting, paths after graduating with honors. One will return home to continue working on his college applications with the plan to enroll in the fall of 2018. The second embarked with NSA on an adventure to South Africa and plans on joining our Bridge program to investigate internships. We are very proud of both young men, and excited for their certain future successes.
An integral component of all facets of the New Summit Academy program is the development of student empowerment and a feeling of student ownership of their community and processes. NSA’s Student Council exemplifies one of the many opportunities that students have to advocate for themselves and develop their executive functioning skills, all while making their community a better place to live!
Students campaign for Student Council, and are voted by their peers into positions that include President, Vice President, Activities Coordinator, and Proposals Coordinator.
Once in position, the President guides his peers in choosing and scheduling weekend activities and club outings, including the very-popular Running and Climbing Clubs. Students are also involved in decisions on how to spend the quarterly student budget for community improvements, and in writing proposals for making changes or additions to the student handbook. Through these activities, students see real, positive changes in their day-to-day lives as the rewards for investment and action!
Mother’s Day – and moms – are taken seriously in Costa Rica. Every August 15th is a national holiday, when families take time off from school and work to honor the mothers in their lives. With the help of Daisy, our Cultural Immersion Coordinator, our students and staff were able to thank our special community of moms, both those who work with our students every day as well as our wonderful homestay mothers.
Daisy and her team organized a special Mother’s Day dinner, where students not only sat with and entertained their NSA moms, but were in charge of serving fresh fish with shrimp, cleaning up, and even washing the dishes so that these mothers didn’t have to lift a finger. The evening culminated with students and all of our moms dancing into the night. Happy Mother’s Day to all of our moms!
- Students spotted a female Puma resting on the base of a tree, and have photos to prove it!
- Our guide alerted us to a shark in the water, which emerged and began walking toward the group. The “deer shark” has now entered into Aventura legend.
- Students learned about biological relationships and forest succession deep in the Costa Rican rainforest.
- Students and staff tested the limits of their physical abilities, which served as a reminder of strengths and capabilities even in the most challenging situations
- An incredible experiential learning experience! Students gained first-hand knowledge about cloud forest ecosystems by being IN a cloud forest, and about water currents by swimming through them.
- Kayak students experienced true integration as one of our amazing Case Managers and resident sage, Marcel, taught about mangrove ecosystems, watersheds, and the tides on pristine beaches
- Students built important peer connections by vying for prizes in the Tent Partner Olympics
- A full moon, spectacular sunsets, and impressive rains punctuated this once-in-a-lifetime journey
- Our newest students and staff engaged in the busiest round of turtle egg relocation in recent memory, according to the Turtle Conservation Director, Manuel. Seven nests were located, with over 700 turtle eggs placed in the hatchery.
- Students who exceeded Aventura expectations earned the opportunity of a night patrol, and were rewarded with finding a giant turtle nesting on the beach!
- In an amazing cultural-immersion experience, NSA students and staff put forth a valiant effort but ultimately were defeated 3 to 0 by the rubber boot-wearing team from our community service partners at Finca Osa Verde and Osa Conservation.
Blog authors may be students, staff, parents or colleagues. We're all-inclusive! Just enjoy!