Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the Academy’s annual Spring Benefit. This year’s theme was “Starry, Starry Night,” and indeed, it was a beautiful night under the stars. As is often the case, members of our school community — trustees, administrators, and students — will come forward to provide their “take” on what makes the Academy something more and something different… and something we are all proud to support. This year was different, however. A current parent (who ironically will be leaving the area and headed to Philadelphia) asked to speak. This was quite impromptu, and quite, well, interesting. What would he say?
If only I had been able to think clearly enough — as the director of admission and marketing and not as a parent enjoying the evening — I should have been recording his words. This testimonial was certainly one spoken from the heart. And the heart of the matter was this: Harrisburg Academy is a special place where amazing things happen… but those things only happen because of our faculty. The teachers at the Academy truly are the heart of our school, and the work they do with our students — all of them, every single day — is something too often we take for granted. This parent so eloquently reminded us to do anything but that…. Instead, he said, we should be mindful of the teachers, their efforts, their passion, and the amazing changes they bring to our students, our children.
To reiterate his point: the Academy is proud to have a gifted, dedicated faculty which has the ability and training necessary to engage students in the excitement of learning, to challenge them to reach high expectations, and to provide the support needed for them to reach those expectations. Without such teachers, all the other resources the Academy provides are of little effect. Our excellence as a school is directly dependent upon the quality of our faculty.
When the Academy hires teachers, it does so on a national basis, believing that our chances of hiring the finest teachers are much greater if we search the entire nation. Our faculty are educated themselves with nearly 40 percent having advanced degrees. But whether our faculty attended an Ivy League school or one of our own Pennsylvania colleges, they have been hand-picked because of their talents and experience in engaging students in the excitement of learning.
Amazing teachers in a collaborative, challenging, and character-building environment such as we have at the Academy, however, doesn’t come for free. In fact, we know that the Academy annual tuition is more than other private schools in the area. But as the only preschool through 12th grade independent school in the model of the National Association of Independent Schools, we are committed to offering this education that is certainly something more and something different.
And our teachers make all the difference.