The Academic Year, Officially in Motion

Dear Academy Families,

With first quarter grades and comments now in and reviewed – by students, parents, advisers, and full faculty discussions – the 2012-2013 academic year is officially in motion. Often this first quarter “reality check” confirms what everyone had already assumed, and a student continues with no marked concern. Sometimes, however, one or more courses are not going as well as had been hoped or expected, and then some recalibration is in order.

I want to stress that these first quarter results are not officially put on the transcript, and are meant more as indicators to help the year to improve. The conversations they generate are the real purpose of the exercise, so that each student can learn what is going well (to continue) and what needs attention (to improve). This almost always results in a stronger second quarter to wrap up the fall semester on an upward trend.

We prefer that the students learn to take the lead in such conversations, but we also appreciate the ongoing role that parents play. Therefore, we schedule the adviser conferences at this point in the year to be sure everyone is “on the same page” moving forward.  It’s a pleasure both to listen as the teachers discuss students in difficulty (we have an impressive amount of aggregate insight about each individual, a sign that “crowd sourcing” works!), and to see parents in our building to visit classes and to confer with advisers. By and large, this system works well to support each student’s growth.

Of course, should long term or more serious issues be hampering a student’s improvement, we encourage families to work with Michelle Cannon, our Assistant Head of School, who oversees the academic support team (school counselor, peer adviser, team of teachers and adviser). Adolescence is a rocky road, but the Academy has “been there, done that” for many students over the years. Please let us know when you want our best thinking for your student.

Warm regards,
James S. Berkman
Head of School

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