SJA Summer Educational Symposium

Welcoming Summer, Looking Ahead

June 11, 2021

Message from the headmaster

 

 

The events St. Johnsbury Academy put on for seniors last week—the Virtual Academy graduation, Senior Breakfast, Class Day, the parade through town, the Prom outdoors on Brantview Lawn, complete with fireworks, and outdoor Commencement—were fairly magical. After the year we’ve had, these final days felt liberating. We were being transported, finally, to a world in which we can see each other again.

 

What incredible work the St. Johnsbury Academy community has done this year to fulfill our mission. I will ever be grateful to these faculty and staff who have given so much of themselves; to these students who were so resilient; to these families who partnered with us as we faced so much uncertainty; and to alumni and trustees who offered unwavering support.

 

We are poised to be thoughtful as we look to the fall, and how to re-engage students with Academy life and with the best aspects of its culture with the insights we’ve gained. Inequities and challenges for students and families have been in sharp relief during COVID, as has the importance of relationships to motivate students to succeed while staying healthy.

 

We also know we need to re-assess the standards—of character, of inquiry, and of community—to which we hold students and ourselves. Work has begun on an immersion course for first year students where we can lay some foundations for being successful students early and intentionally. Our common read this summer is Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle, which we hope will get us thinking about how to relearn conversing, discussing, and paying undivided attention to each other when we begin again.

 

But the campus is quiet now as faculty do their spring cleanings and have final meetings, and staff shift into summer mode. All feel, I think a profound sense of relief and real pride for having served students the best they could this year. And every one of us needs a rest. Later this summer the campus will buzz again with academic sessions, summer campus, enrichment programs and special orientations for middle-schoolers, Operation Creation, and offerings for teachers.

 

But for now, the pause of summer is most welcome. Take the best of care, and we will see you in the fall.

 

Dr. Sharon L. Howell

Headmaster

 

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