NDA: A Year-End Reflection

NDA: A Year-End Reflection

By Randall Adams, President of the Academy of Notre Dame
By this time in the year I am always exhausted, but it is a satisfying exhaustion that comes with the knowledge of all that we’ve accomplished as a school. The gratitude that I feel for my administrative and faculty teams, for the students, parents, alumnae, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Board of Directors is immense as I think back over this past year and all that we have gone through together. It has been a pivotal year that has seen us come together on curriculum mapping, campus beautification, and admissions functions and has seen us challenged by enrollment fluctuations, class schedules, and strategic vision. While the presence of the Catholic School Management (CSM) consultants this spring was intense to say the least, their expertise and objectivity has produced a report that will help navigate a future of prosperity for the Academy. 


The consultant report was delivered to me on June 1st and I have shared it with key personnel, board and corporation members. As a result of the recommendations in this report you can expect to hear more about short term operational changes that will be instituted rapidly in an effort to affect outcomes for the 2018-19 academic year. Our goal continues to be the health and vitality of NDA for generations to come. 


While there is much work to do over the course of the next three years, it is important to take this time to reflect back on all that we have done in the past year. What follows is a list of some of the more notable accomplishments for 2017-18: 

Accomplishments 

Students/Faculty 

  • Three Zaner-Bloser handwriting contest state winners (grades 2, 6, 7)
  • Juniors Taylor Martineau and Annabelle Fandozzi are accepted into Art All-State 2018
  • Keely Ford ’18 becomes 2017-18 Voice of Democracy winner for VFW Post 662 in Lowell; Kathryn Tarantino ’18 places 4th 
  • Achievements of Class of 2018
    • Fifty-four graduating seniors earned more than $13 million in renewable merit scholarships
    • 100% college acceptance and matriculation
    • 50% report pursuing STEM related fields
    • 74% received one or more scholarships
    • Accepted to 143 colleges and universities in U.S. and Canada
  • Elizabeth O’Connell, Lower School Principal, awarded the St. Julie Alumna of the Year Award

Strategy

  • An immediate action operational plan was implemented.

Staff Professional Development

  • Rubicon Atlas software was used to begin curriculum mapping.
  • A Curriculum Mapping Core Team established consisting of faculty from both the Upper and Lower Schools, administrative staff, and technology staff to drive the curriculum mapping process.
  • First orientation session for new faculty and staff was held. 

Admissions and Marketing

  •  “I Chose NDA” billboard campaign was launched featuring alumnae.
  • Shopping mall signage was used to promote the Academy.
  • :30 ads were used in a local movie theatre to promote the Academy.
  • A professional photographer was hired for a two day shoot in the spring to obtain images for fall collateral.
  • A pre-printed box and video card playing the acceptance video were new elements used for the Acceptance boxes for high school freshmen.
  • A director of admissions was hired.

Mission/Community Service

  • All faculty and staff participated in a retreat lead by Sisters of Notre Dame in August 2017 as part of our back to school activities which included discussion of our mission and Catholic identity. 
  • The Academy became the grand prize winner for the Coats for Kids coat drive sponsored by Anton’s Cleaners.
  • All-School Lenten project donated 10 beds for “A Bed for Every Child.”

Academics/Programs

  • A capstone Science Fair was established for 8th graders.
  • A new summer camp for teens was launched.
  • A Spirit Point competition was held in the Upper School to promote school spirit and attendance at athletic events.
  • The NEASC Interim Evaluation Report was submitted in March.
  • The Upper School formalized the cultural exchange between our international and domestic students by creating the “Bridges Across the Ocean” program.
  • Upper and Lower School math and foreign language faculty met to discuss curriculum across grade levels to ensure students have a seamless transition from grade to grade. 
  • The Lower School appointed curriculum heads to ensure that standards are maintained and that the grade levels continue to excel and progress.
  • The Lower School hired a Technology Integration Specialist to support teachers in the integration of technology in core classes, as well as teach computer fundamentals to students in grades K1 - 8.
  • A Lower School Learning Specialist was hired to work with Lower School students who may be struggling with the rigorous curriculum.

Events

  • First ever Alumnae Reunion tent event was held in June.
  • The SNDdeN Congregational Leadership Team visited NDA in May.
  • Family Fun Nights were established to welcome the community on campus.

Technology

  • Enrollment was done entirely online for the first time. 
  • A new design was launched for Veracross portals.
  • An upgrade was purchased for the portable sound system consisting of a powered portable speaker, sound board, microphones, mic stands and cabling.
  • The Cisco Umbrella, a cloud-based DNS, content filtering and front end protection for improved secure internet security, was implemented.
  • Thirty Chromebooks were purchased for the Lower School including charging carts and cloud based management.
  • A Mobile Device Management solution for iPads was implemented.
  • Our printing supply vendor was switched to Conway Printing, a contracted supply and printer services/support company.

Athletics

  • Upper School 
    • Varsity Volleyball becomes CAC and Division 3 North Champions and advanced to the State Semi-finals. 
    • Alexis Kirkland was named the CAC League MVP for volleyball for the 3rd consecutive year, the Lowell Sun Player of the Year and was named to the Mass Girls’ Volleyball Coaches Association Div. 3 All-Star team. 
    • Kate Scarano and Emma Thompson were named CAC Volleyball All-stars 
    • Lauren Bradley, Katie Curran and Annika Hanson were named CAC Soccer All-stars.
    • Samantha Fisher, Grace O’Connell and Caitlin Ryan were named MVC Swim All-stars.
    • Indoor Track team competes in CAC league championship (3 all stars)
    • Eileen Leach, Kate Scarano, Sydney Bradley and Mya Shanahan were named CAC Indoor Track All-stars.
    • Kate Scarano ’18 set new indoor track school record for Shot Put
    • Basketball team advances to state sectional tournament
    • Sam Adamczyk, Natalie Kelleher and Alexis Kirkland were named CAC Basketball All-stars.
    • Lauren Bradley and Coach Wally Armstrong received awards from the Gr. Lowell area Basketball Referees Association.
    • Tennis team wins the MVC Div. 2 Championship.  
    • Senior Emma Thompson was undefeated in 1st tennis singles in the MVC and was named MVC MVP.  She also advanced to the semi-finals in the MIAA State Individual Tennis Tournament.
  • Lower School
    • Girls JV basketball team wins Ecumenical League Championship
    • Girls Soccer team wins league championship
    • Boys Soccer team competes in league championship


Challenges

With the CSM report now in hand, we must turn our attentions to implementing the recommendations contained in the report. This will be a time of change and we will all have to become more comfortable with moving away from the way things have always been done to a new model that will help propel us forward as an institution.

The Road Ahead

We will begin the 2018-2019 school year with great optimism. As we begin the summer we look forward to continuing our initiative to revitalize the aesthetics of our buildings and grounds with the help of a generous donor.  Improvements are planned for lamp posts along the drive, front signage, and more. We plan to offer teacher training to support the new hybrid block scheduling and hire a middle school principal and a director of institutional advancement. Elizabeth O’Connell will be the principal of the Lower School with Melissa Janes reporting to her as the Director of Early Childhood Development. Pam Bernazani will serve as an interim principal for the Upper School.