About Us Blog

The following is a memoir written by Kathleen Evans Tumminello from the Academy's Class of 1965: "I rubbed my thumb over the inscription. There it was: my maiden name in the center of a delicate gold Maltese cross; a graduation bestowal for every graduate of an Academy of Notre Dame in the world, we were told. I had packed it away many decades ago. I was six years old when I first saw the school—it was summer."

As parents, we want our children to have the best possible education available. Since every student is an individual, with unique strengths, challenges, passions, and goals, where this “best possible education” can be found may also vary. Finding the right fit can be daunting, but when the “right fit” comes with a tuition fee, it is always good to be reminded about why that investment delivers such incredible dividends for students and for parents.

Serving in the field of education as a teacher, administrator, and coach for more than three decades has been a continually inspiring as well as tremendously rewarding experience for me.  My varied experiences with the independent school world have allowed me to grow significantly in both personal and professional ways and have also helped strengthen my commitment to the welfare of children and to independent school education.

My career in Advancement began when I was a freshman phone-a-thon caller raising money for my College’s Annual Fund. Now, as a development professional and volunteer with a couple of decades under my belt, I am never surprised when constituents have questions about the mysterious “Annual Fund.” It can be difficult to define, even for a practitioner like myself, because the Annual Fund is interpreted differently by each institution and can support a host of initiatives.

In the early years of my career in the world of independent schools, it was very clear as students moved through school that their parents were the ones who made the decision on where their children would enroll for high school.  I recall that students had input in the process, but they were not the decision makers.  Over the years, that paradigm has shifted significantly for a number of reasons, and today more students than ever before appear to be driving this decision process.

I often hear the following from parents of students in various grades, “My child used to love reading when he/she was little.  Now I can’t remember the last time he or she read for fun.”   This parent isn’t alone in expressing the concern about his/her child’s diminishing interest in reading as he/she grows older. As a teacher of English Language Arts, I have discovered that the main motivation for avid readers is their love for it!  This passion is the main ingredient to creating become lifelong readers.

While the obvious main priority and focus in a school should be on providing a top quality education for its students and instilling a love of learning, there is also an opportunity and an obligation to establish meaningful and impactful engagement with parents. Research shows that having regular communication and a strong partnership between home and school benefits everyone, especially the students.

College admissions season is upon us and a frequently asked question to our counseling office is what to do about standardized testing results. Many years ago, in order to apply to college, one would take the SAT once and that was it. Then the ACT made its debut as a different way to measure potential college success. But nowadays are schools that do not require standardized test submissions at all.

While last year much of the Academy’s summer work was visible outside the building, this year’s work moved indoors. From office and classroom moves and food service area renovations to a focus on our Catholic identity, the facility and administrative staff members worked throughout the summer to stay on track with strategic and operational plans to move the Academy forward.

From grounds maintenance and facility improvements to office moves and new hires, the Academy of Notre Dame is nearly ready to kick off a new school year! Are you? Here is a list of things to do to get your family ready for the start of school:

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.

In today’s society in seems as though educational competition is higher than ever and students start worrying about college acceptances at a much younger age. As a parent, there is also the challenge of sorting through all of the information to prepare your child for high school and then college. Preparing middle schoolers for high school involves a team effort involving, students, parents, and faculty.

Having worked with adolescents and teens for more than thirty years, it has become alarmingly obvious that a change is happening in the students we care about so much.  About five or six years ago educators and school counselors noticed a concerning rise in student anxiety levels and depression.  Educators are asking, “What is causing this change in our students?”

Let’s face it, politics have become emotional. Some of us love a good political debate and are comfortable voicing dissenting views, while others worry about raising the ire of someone they respect and paying a price for it. Despite the emotional burden, classrooms are a logical space for young people to forge history with politics and social justice.

Before any instruction and learning can begin, a school must design and develop its curriculum, essentially building a road that paves the way for the student to advance from one skill or concept to another and from one grade to the next. It is imperative that the curriculum be monitored during implementation as well as reviewed and evaluated.  As we all know, roads are not permanent.

Choosing a school for your children is a much more difficult task these days than it used to be. Many would say it’s a good problem to have because it reflects the fact that more school options exist than ever before. Predominantly parents look for “the right fit” for their child/family based on curriculum, learning style, values, and cost. However, one aspect of the school fit choice that can often be overlooked is that of grade level configuration. What sort of grade level community does the school provide for your child?

By Pam Bernazani, Upper School Dean of Students and Guidance Counselor: As a guidance counselor, I encourage freshmen to get involved in school activities.  It can ease transition anxiety entering into high school, and help a student acclimate to their new surroundings more quickly.  We ask them to pick one thing (a sport, a club, an arts program) and see where it leads.

By Randall Adams, President of the Academy of Notre Dame: I would not dare to profess an in-depth knowledge of public school accountability and the impact on student learning.  However, given my thirty year career as a teacher and administrator in the private school setting, I would say that private schools may arguably be the most accountable schools in our nation.

What an exciting summer here at the Academy! We start the 2017-18 school year off with a brand new look that is both refreshing and inspiring. It all comes as a result of changes outlined in the Operational Plan developed by my senior staff and me at the direction of the Board of Directors and with funding from generous donors. The goal of the plan was to initiate projects that would enhance our appeal to both current and prospective families.

A Year End Reflection

June 9, 2017

As my first full school year here at the Academy comes to a close, I am filled with gratitude for this community of students, parents, faculty, staff, alumnae, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and board members who have welcomed me, inspired me and provided me with guidance and support. To each of you I offer a sincere thank you. You have made my transition into the world of NDA as smooth as possible. I am happy to announce that as of this week, the Board of Directors has extended me a contract which I have signed. Even before the official offer was extended, my wife Debbie and I purchased a new home in Nashua. We are settling in now and making plans for the future.

In today’s society, a large focus for students is to be a “well rounded individual” when applying for college. When asked what “well-rounded” means, the majority of people would list someone with high academic achievement, numerous extracurricular activities (sports and clubs), and a commitment to community service. However, this list is very static and generic, unless there is a true passion behind it. Being passionate about something can take seed as a young child and be fostered throughout adolescence and adulthood, leading to a lifelong commitment and dedication to truly making a difference in the world.

The search for the right balance in curriculum is a constant endeavor in education. In the 21st century we have seen a constant increase in schools shaping their curriculum around the four disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Over the years, the focus on these disciplines and the practice of teaching them in an interdisciplinary and applied approach has become known by its acronym, STEM. There has been a great deal of discussion and debate regarding the pros and cons of STEM and the possible negative effects of focusing primarily on the sciences and pushing the arts to the background.

We hear about it, we see it, and we experience it as we work to raise the next generation. The “it” in our lives is the rising stress level. This growing phenomenon should be the focus of the team of administrators, teachers and parents working to prepare our children for a new and challenging world. As we grow concerned about the future, it is important to look to the old adage from an unidentified woman, “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.”

What feelings does the phrase “Annual Fund” elicit when you see or hear it? It seems most people would say it evokes negative feelings because of the expectation of having to dish out more of their hard earned cash. Advancement professionals, on the other hand, would likely respond that, in fact, the phrase should create feelings of hope and gratitude.

David Vitter wrote: Catholic schools prepare every student to meet the challenges of their future by developing their mind, yes, but also their body and their soul and spirit.  Vitter’s statement gets to the very core of the value of Catholic education and why so many parents choose a Catholic school for their children. There are 10 characteristics that are traditionally woven into the educational philosophy of a Catholic School environment: