Summer is a welcome recess for all concerned, but the work at school continues in multiple arenas—refining student schedules, physical and property improvements, summer camps and teacher workshops, publications revisions, and general planning for the year ahead. Oh, I can’t forget the organic garden; there are vegetables to be watered and harvested.
I want to mention some of the things we will be working on during the coming academic year at Marist, things you will hear more about as they proceed.
We will be looking at the results of the time surveys we did with students and teachers in the latter part of the spring, an inventory of how student time is spent and what are perceived as chief occupiers of time or causes of stress. I can tell you from first observations that there is great consistency across all grades in the responses, as well as—and I’ll have more to say about this in the future—an unexpected similarity between the 7th and 12th grades.
As we examine a host of technology-related questions and hire a technology director, faculty will be visiting other schools and sharing perceptions of what might be a good fit for Marist and the way we conduct learning. Correlative to this endeavor will be determining what the Marist classroom of the future will look and feel like. We have new classrooms to be constructed and present classrooms to be redone in the next several years, thus it will be important to decide what the prototype will be, especially regarding equipment and technology.
Mrs. Montague has agreed to be our Coordinator of Academic Competitions, a new role that seeks to promote and even invent opportunities for student involvement in learning-related competitive activities, of which Marist already offers many. She will work closely with teams and coaches of a host of activities and will see that students are invited to participate in competitions for which they are particularly suited.
We are hoping to see more activities in the STEM areas—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—as we direct some of our attention to the strengthening of curricular and extracurricular offerings in these fields. We are pursuing conversations among these areas at Marist, looking to determine which additions can enhance student interest and achievement.
And then, the Event-funded broadcasting facilities will bring us new opportunities in that direction. In the fall, students will be offered the chance to be part of inaugural efforts in campus broadcasting.
This is only a limited preview of some of our areas of focus and development for 2011-12. There are the other 451 existing activities, courses, teams, and special events that we shouldn’t take for granted. Meanwhile, your voraciously-reading and ever-so-briefly vacationing children have been, we hope, sprawled out in the backyard or at the beach and now may be sprawled out in bed, tired and tried by the returning activities such as band, athletics, and leadership camps.
We have a number of new people joining our staff in the coming year. After 39 memorable years at Marist as a teacher in Religious Studies, Mr. Hoff retired this summer. We will maintain the tradition of having a member of that department from a Christian tradition other than Catholic. Stepping into the position is Mr. Drew Ditzel, Marist Class of 2001 (B.A., Davidson; M. Div., Columbia Theological Seminary). We are happy to welcome Drew, who was ordained just this summer as a Presbyterian minister. He will also coach wrestling.
In Modern and Classical Languages, replacing Spanish teachers Mr. Engel, who retired, and Mrs. Dominguez, who has gone to graduate study, are Ms. Erica Maier (B.A., M.A., University of Georgia) and Mr. Marcos Pérez (B.A., University of Oviedo; M.A., Univ. of Santiago de Compostela). Mr. Pérez will also coach soccer. Our German numbers are up, and so we will enjoy the assistance of part-time teacher Dr. Rosa Pohl (B.A., Longwood; M.A., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania).
Dr. Hand in Counseling was married over the summer and is moving to South Carolina. We congratulate her and will fill her vacancy with an altered arrangement in the Counseling Department (see elsewhere in this newsletter). Ms. Talia Silver (B.S., Florida State; M.S.W., Central Florida) will join the department as the fourth counselor in the social-emotional area.
Mr. Jeffrey Miller (B.A., Kennesaw State) will teach speech and debate and will coach debate. He has experience with both policy debate and Lincoln-Douglas debate. Mr. Kevin Moore, Marist Class of 2004 (B.A., University of Georgia; M.A.T., Mercer) will teach history and coach basketball.
After many years at Marist, Mrs. Powers retired this summer, and filling her role in Skills and Strategies for Success classes is Mrs. Libby Porter (B.A., Duke; M.A., Georgia State). Mrs. Porter will also be doing some groundwork on the possible establishment of a learning resource center at Marist. And Mrs. Colleen Lawrence (B.S., Concord College) will join our library staff and will also assist with the school’s archives.
In a matter of weeks, we will resume the frenzy we call school. In the meantime, I hope that you will let us know if there are questions we can answer or problems to resolve. I look forward to welcoming all students on August 24 and to seeing our new students and parents in the days before that. God bless you in the preparation for another school year.
Rev. Joel Konzen, S.M.