Newark Academy faculty are consistently reimagining the educational rigor that the school is known for. Each day NA educators bring innovative, engaging and challenging experiences to students in order to help instill within them with a genuine love of learning. This focus on academic excellence is affirmed by NA’s supportive community – one in which students learn together while developing as confident individuals with integrity.
To recognize and express appreciation for these efforts, parents and students made gifts to the NA Annual Fund as part of Teacher Appreciation Week on May 3-7. Throughout the week, several of the gifts made honored the entire faculty and staff, but most were given as a special “thank you” to one or more teachers who made a lasting impact on the lives of the donating student and their family. Teachers and staff members who were honored with such gifts received personal notes of appreciation.
NA also celebrated longstanding faculty and staff who announced their retirement at the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year. These faculty and staff members include:
Math Teacher Scott Johnson (38 years)
Middle School Office Manager Chris Johnson (24 years)
Director of Library and Media Services Bob Mallalieu (39 years)
Director of Administrative Services Eileen Gilbert (37 years)
Humanities Teacher Amy Schottland (22 years)
As one NA faculty member noted, “There is no better gift to receive from a student or parent than hearing them say ‘thank you for your efforts.’ It really means the world to us.” Teacher Appreciation Week contributed a total of $17,235 to the Annual Fund – and a year’s worth of smiles on the faces of the faculty.
Students Explore Engaging Topics Through Master Classes
In place of the traditional end-of-the-year June Term, Newark Academy Upper School students in Grades 9 through 11 participated in Master Classes during the week of June 7, 2021. The Master Classes provided a week of experiential learning and engaging workshops for students to explore engaging topics through short, self-contained and activity-focused workshops that featured NA's "Six Cs" of skill development in action (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, character, cultural competency).
Through the generosity of NA donors, faculty were able to transform their outside passions into 40 unique and diverse Master Classes such as Game Theory; Forensics; Environmental Sculpture; Textile Upcycling; Absurdist Short Stories; Guitar 101 and Mindfulness, Yoga and Guided Imagery.
“The Engineering Epiphanies course, for example, challenged students to change the way they think about the technologies they use every day by reverse engineering common devices,” says Director of Studies Jeffrey Vinikoor. “In Mexican Muralism and Spanish Cubism, students learned about the historical events that shaped intellectual and artistic movements in Mexico and Spain and created their own works of art.”
Watch these videos to learn more about our Master Class experiences.
Community Service Efforts Create and Enhance Partnerships in the City of Newark
In light of Newark Academy’s approaching 250th anniversary in 2024 and renewed calls for social justice initiatives, NA’s community service program strengthened its existing partnership with programs and organizations in the city of Newark during the 2020-21 school year. These partnerships, which demonstrate the NA community’s generosity of spirit and commitment to service, include a multi-year engagement with Covenant House and a long-standing and evolving partnership with The Apostles’ House.
The Covenant House partnership includes an annual Solidarity Sleepout each November, with NA students raising awareness and funds in support of housing and services for young people who have experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment, homelessness and human trafficking. Although November 2020’s Solidarity Sleepout took place as a virtual event, approximately 180 NA students participated, garnering $15,915 for this important effort.
A two-decade partnership with The Apostles’ House in Newark is another example of NA’s commitment to community-based service learning. A source of comprehensive social services for homeless women with children and for families at risk of homelessness in Newark and Essex County, The Apostles’ House has continued to partner with NA despite having to shift to virtual activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NA community service program pivoted its traditional holiday party efforts in 2020 to have student volunteers distribute food and goodie bags and offer virtual arts and crafts events for Apostles’ House families.
The NA Reads initiative kicked off in November 2020, serving both The Apostles’ House and Newark’s 13th Avenue Elementary School. Through NA Reads, students read books over Zoom to Apostles’ House children, who read along with their own books. In early 2021, the program expanded to include NA students and parents recording story readings for families of young children who attend the 13th Avenue School.
Global Speakers Series & Feinberg Lecture Broaden Students’ Minds
Since 2008, NA’s Global Speaker Series Committee has brought distinguished individuals from around the world to address the NA community, enriching students’ understanding and broadening their intellectual horizons. One program in the series is designated as the Feinberg Multicultural Lecture which was founded in 2001 through an endowment gift made by Peter Feinberg ’78 and Margery Feinberg ’78. The Feinberg Lecture was created to bring thought-provoking topics to the Newark Academy student body.
In the winter of 2020, Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and Tony-nominated producer spoke with NA students virtually during the hour-long Feinberg Lecture, followed by breakout sessions. Vargas is a leading voice for the human rights of immigrants and founded the non-profit, Define American, which consults with television networks to humanize conversations about immigration in their narratives. Define America was named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Forbes. Vargas is the author of the best-selling memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen.
Another installment of the Global Speaker Series included a virtual visit from alumna Charlotte Alter ’07, who is a senior correspondent at TIME covering politics and social issues. Charlotte has covered the 2016, 2018, and 2020 campaigns, the Women’s March and anti-Trump resistance, the rise in youth activism around gun violence and climate change, the spread of conspiracy theories and disinformation, and the 2020 Democratic primary and general election. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Vox.
Charlotte, a Newark Academy lifer, talked to current students about her recently published book, The Ones We've Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America, offering compelling facts and information about politics and leadership.
“People don’t tend to change their minds that much. They may change their minds a little bit about one issue or politician, but actually big swings from far right to far left or far left to far right are fairly rare, so this is what my book is about,” she said. “Our lifelong political attitudes are shaped by the events of early adulthood.”
NA STEM Adapts to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many universities and organizations postponed or cancelled their internships for students who were seeking in-person science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experiences during the 2020-21 school year. While initially seen as a challenge, this change ushered in new and innovative virtual opportunities for NA students. No longer limited by geography, NA students were able to participate in virtual labs and cutting-edge research from across the globe while physically remaining at home.
“It’s been an adjustment,” says STEM Coordinator Charles Crosby, “but we were fortunate to be technologically and pedagogically prepared.”
During the 2020-21 school year, there were a greater variety of assignments and approaches to independent work and collaboration, including on Zoom. Virtual labs were introduced and have been effective. In addition to the natural selection simulations and chemical experiments found in the virtual labs, NA students were able to use technology to explore human anatomy and dissections without the need for gloves or scalpels.
“NA successfully adapted its STEM programs to give students interactive, educational and COVID-safe experiences,” says Juliet Bu ’23. Juliet’s honors chemistry class conducted a combination of hands-on labs and virtual simulations. During hands-on experiments, everyone had their own station and materials.
“I feel extremely lucky that NA is able to offer us these resources so our learning is not compromised during the pandemic,” Juliet says. “Our virtual simulations are great substitutes for when we are remote and unable to be in the lab. Although these new lab formats are different, NA STEM classes have continued to prioritize high-quality education for us.”
These reimagined classes and lab experiences were supported by gifts to the NA Annual Fund.
Board of Trustees’ Day of Giving Match Challenge
During Newark Academy’s eighth annual Day of Giving on March 3, 2021, the Board of Trustees challenged the NA community with a match pledge. The Board of Trustees pledged to match every $1 up to $150,000 donated to the Annual Fund, with those matching dollars going towards the school’s COVID-19 mitigation and relief efforts. The matched dollars also aided families financially affected by the pandemic. The Board of Trustees generously went above and beyond their pledge, matching a total of $169,350, which raised the Day of Giving donation total to $411,912.70 for the Newark Academy Annual Fund.
Developing lifelong bonds and staying connected after graduation are hallmarks of the Newark Academy experience. This was evident more than ever during the 2020-21 school year as NA alumni strengthened their relationships with each other through events that took place throughout the entire year, despite COVID-19 restrictions.
Through support from the Annual Fund, Director of Alumni Relations Evan Nisenson ’99 hosted 12 virtual events that brought the NA community together across the globe. The events ranged from a variety of workshops and a mixology class to a playwriting festival and inspiring panel discussions. The year’s full list of events included:
Mindfulness, Meditation and Metacognition: A Conversation with Former NA teacher Joe Ball
Resume Building Workshop led by Pamela Vichengrad '94
Creative Writing Workshop with Ben Purkert '03
24-Minute Playwriting Festival with former NA teacher Scott M. Jacoby
The Winning Streak: A Panel Discussion Featuring Ben Cohen's '06 book, “The Hot Hand” and NA Alumni Athletes.
Despite logistical challenges brought about by COVID-19 restrictions, Minutemen Athletics impressed on the field and on the court, finishing the 2020-21 school year with a total of 163 postseason honors.
Boys’ and Girls’ Swimming competed through virtual meets, made possible by new technology provided through the generosity of NA donors, in which each team competed at their home venue with an official present to record times. The times were recorded and reported to the state and then compared with opponents to determine a winner.
Boys’ Varsity Tennis went 25-0 to win its 14th all-time Tournament of Championships title in addition to state, county and conference championships. The Boys’ Varsity Golf team also concluded its season as state, county and division champions and Boys’ Varsity Cross Country won a state sectional title. Several NA teams won their divisions, including Boys’ Fencing, which was ranked No. 1 throughout the entire season; Field Hockey, which recorded its best start in program history; and Girls’ and Boys’ Varsity Track and Field.
During the fall, 47 student-athletes were recognized for a total of 52 postseason honors. Fifteen winter student-athletes were recognized for 39 post-season honors and 50 spring student-athletes were recognized for 72 postseason honors.
At the conclusion of the year, Minuteman Athletics celebrated six members of the Class of 2021 who committed to continue their athletic careers in college. These students were:
Will Charvala: Washington College, Lacrosse
Thomas Clancy: Cornell University, Baseball
Sam Goidel: University of Chicago, Tennis
Jordan McCray-Robinson: Fordham University, Track & Field
Katilin Weiss: Bowdoin College, Lacrosse
Andrew Zabelo: California Institute of Technology, Tennis
Two Newark Academy coaches were also recognized for their accomplishments during the 2020-21 school year. USA Fencing named Boys’ and Girls’ Fencing Head Coach Daniel Bailey-Yavonditte Coach of the Year. Boys’ and Girls’ Swimming Head Coach William Blomn was named Coach of the Year by NJ.com.
Innovation and Creativity Push the Arts Forward
Despite the constant twists and turns presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NA Arts faculty found creative ways to allow students to participate in performances during the 2020-21 school year.
While instrumental and choral classes were initially held on Zoom, the introduction of instrument covers and singing masks allowed the arts to resume in-person, with students performing under outdoor tents or spreading out in the Coraci Performance Hall — made possible through gifts from more than 140 donors to Rise & Flourish: The Campaign for Newark Academy. In some cases, faculty even utilized two separate rooms across from each other to space out musicians and conduct them at a distance from the center of the hallway.
Hybrid dance classes were held in the gym with students dancing in distant 12-foot boxes with masks on. Remote students were able to join via Zoom as 360 “Owl” cameras ensured they could follow the choreography from all angles.
Visual arts faculty adapted to COVID-19 restrictions by creating demonstration videos with document cameras and teaching classes on Zoom. For critiques, student artwork was photographed and shared for remote students to be able to view and join in for effective discussions. Although there were no art receptions in the Teiger Gallery for the Studio Arts during the 2020-21 school year, student art continued to grace the walls all year long.
With live performances on halt during the beginning of the year, the Annual Fund allowed student performances to take place through virtual recordings that were live-streamed and included chat functions available for the audience to show support for the artists. The fall drama She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms, was filmed and streamed virtually here. Students in the winter musical, Peter and the Starcatcher, filmed their performance on stage with a full set and props. The performance was screened virtually here. Students in the spring dance concert, Dancing Uphill, recorded socially-distant performances in the gym and Teiger Gallery and aired them virtually here.
In February of 2021, live performances returned as IB music recitals were held for small audiences in the Coraci Performance Hall. With the introduction of warmer weather, concerts were able to be held outdoors and a stage was constructed for the Middle School play and mini-musical. The NA concert choir utilized the OSPAC in West Orange, an off-campus, outdoor space, to perform Cabaret 2021: Under the Evening Stars.
Newark Academy was able to continue its commitment to excellence in the arts through virtual and outdoor events because of the generosity of NA alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends.
Reimagined Classroom Experiences
As Newark Academy committed to keeping its doors open to in-person learning during the 2020-21 school year, the classroom experience was reimagined in many ways to ensure the safety of the entire community, through support from NA’s Annual Fund.
In order to effectively social distance, non-traditional classrooms were set up in spaces such as the gyms, library and Great Hall. Gifts from generous NA donors provided the opportunity to equip these non-traditional classroom spaces with 18 large screen televisions on carts to ensure lessons were visible to all students.
Gifts made to the Annual Fund also supported the purchase of 50 “Owl” cameras with 360 degree lenses, speakers and omnidirectional microphones to maintain high quality learning experiences for remote students.
The sciences also adapted to COVID-19 restrictions by introducing virtual labs featuring natural selection simulations and chemical experiments. This technology allowed NA students to explore human anatomy and dissections without the need for physical touch.
Make your gift to Newark Academy’s Annual Fund here.
Keeping our Doors Open During the Pandemic
During a year in which most New Jersey students attended school remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, generous donations to Newark Academy’s Annual Fund allowed students to safely return to campus for in-person learning during the 2020-21 school year.
Newark Academy provided face masks and saliva test kits for weekly COVID-19 testing to students, faculty and staff. Gifts to the Annual Fund also allowed NA to purchase digital temperature screening kiosks at the school’s main entrances and add increased signage throughout the entire school to promote social distancing.
Through the generosity of donors, NA was able to spend $140,000 on HVAC maintenance to ensure there was clean and filtered air within the school. The Annual Fund also provided $250,000 in increased emergency financial assistance to NA families experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Make your gift to Newark Academy’s Annual Fund here.
E&I Initiatives are Strengthened through Community Connections
Following the open conversations that took place during Newark Academy’s Equity and Inclusion Summit of July 2020, Newark Academy identified key action steps for creating greater equity and inclusion at NA. Among these commitments was the addition of two part-time Equity and Inclusion Coordinators in both the Upper School and Middle School.
The new positions, made possible by the Annual Fund, were added to assist the Director of Equity and Inclusion in fulfilling the Academy’s strategic diversity initiatives and moving forward the key action steps for creating greater equity and inclusion at NA that were identified following the Summit.
In addition, new affinity groups for students, faculty and staff were created during the 2020-21 school year. Newark Academy Parent Association (NAPA) formed new parent affinity groups – the LGBTQ+ Parents and Allies Group and the Immigrant Parents Network. These affinity groups were developed using the Black and Latino Families Network as an example, and blossomed over the course of the 2020-21 school year. The success of these groups made way for the creation of the Diverse Abilities Group in Spring 2021, a new affinity group for parents aimed at supporting families with members of varied physical, mental and emotional abilities.
“As an NA parent of color, I am pleased with the direction that NA is going in as it relates to equity and inclusion,” says NAPA Vice President Leigh Slaton Mumford. “NA has been supporting the Black and Latino Families Network for a number of years. The increase of full-time NA faculty and staff of color as well as accepted families is noticed among the parent community.”
At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, the Newark Academy Equity and Inclusion Team partnered with several student clubs to offer a series of Open Equity and Inclusion meetings in the Upper School to address a variety of topics. In addition to these conversations, the Upper School affinity groups – NA LGBTQ Students, NA Students of Color, Young Men of NA, and Young Women of NA – offered greater opportunities and space for students identifying within those identity groups to come together and exchange notes on their shared experiences. By the end of the fall term, students of color in the Middle School and Upper School met separately with Head of School Donald M. Austin and NA administrators to discuss E&I at NA.
NA faculty and staff have continued throughout the year to participate in professional development on E&I issues in order to be effective facilitators of discussions and act as models of NA’s Community Commitments for Belonging. Many are also taking part in a thorough review of existing administrative policies at NA through a lens of equity and inclusion.
To view NA’s Equity and Inclusion Progress Report, click here.