Author Archives: admin

Scrubbing the Stage

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I was wandering around campus last Friday around 11:00 a.m., having made the necessary preparations for the students to arrive in my class on Monday, when I came across Caroline Bisi on the stage in Price Auditorium.  She had in her hand the working end of a Swiffer floor scrubber, and she was leaning on it pretty heavily.  While intent on her work, she did not look unhappy or frustrated.  In a paragraph or two I’ll get back to why […]

The Best Teacher I Ever Had

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Charlie Cumiskey passed away earlier this week. An obituary accompanies this piece which I wrote several years ago.  Rest in peace, Mr. C. Charles J. Cumiskey, Jr., was simply put, the best teacher I ever had.  In 1965, my sixth-grade year, he was head of the Lower School, the baseball coach, and the math teacher for the sixth and seventh grades.  With only one section per grade level in those days, there was no need for designations such as “6A,” […]

Oh Auntie Em, There’s No Place like Johnson Theater!

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For much of America, the High School Musical is a cliché, the subject of abundant and tender good humor.  Both television and the silver screen have had their fun with the concept of high school students singing and dancing their amateur hours across the stage.  To be fair, there have also been times where the take was not so genial, and when the hurtful drama of adolescent relationships has been the target of a screenwriter’s pen.  But generally speaking, thinking […]

California, Here I Come

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I had the privilege of attending a reunion of Norfolk Academy alums at the San Francisco home of Drew McKnight ’96 several weeks ago.  A number of folks from the Development team went, including the heroic Ruth Payne Acra ’86, who traveled cross-country with a newly broken foot courtesy of the recent snowstorm.  Herb Soles and I had travelled out to the Bay area separately several days earlier, which, if you remember, was at the height of the historic rain/wind […]

What We Are Building With

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There are construction workers everywhere you look around campus these days.  Work is ongoing to expand the Smith-Hofheimer Lower School, primarily to add space for the teaching of STEM and the Arts.  A new stadium is erupting on the south side of the football field, including locker rooms, rest rooms, concessions, and a rejuvenated Bell Tower.  Most dramatically, the James B. Massey Jr. Leadership Center, at the very heart of our campus and of our mission, is almost completely under […]

Patting the Bulldog, and So Much More

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As I have referenced from time to time in these musings, my emotions sometimes get the best of me too easily.  Well, it has happened again.  Here’s the story, and I promise it’s not about me. On August 29, some 70 parents of first graders arrived with their little ones for the beginning of what each hopes will be a wonderful journey – school at Norfolk Academy.  To give parent and child alike our complete attention, we ask them to […]

What We Believe

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Upon his arrival at Norfolk Academy as Headmaster in 1978, John Tucker convened a special committee of the faculty to rework and update the school’s mission statement.  It emerged in two parts – a “Statement of Philosophy” only four paragraphs long, followed by a detailed list of individual “Goals and Objectives.” Arthur MacConochie, who taught English here for forty years and was considered to be the conscience of the school, acted as scribe as teachers went word by word to […]

Guten Tag, Enkelin (Hello, granddaughter)

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Last Wednesday, Leah Waitzer, long-time trustee and pillar of our community, paid a visit to Dennis Manning to discuss several matters of school importance.  As she made her way through the arch, she passed the assembled exchange students from Copernicus-Gymnasium Löningen in Germany together with their American counterparts and hosts.  Ms. Waitzer thought back to 1978, the year her son Brad participated in what was then the sixth year of our German exchange.  And so she went looking for one […]

A Matter of Experience

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At a place like Norfolk Academy it is important that every member of the faculty have a range of experiences outside the narrow world of a field of study. That is, when you set about the noble task of helping youngsters turn into adults, knowing your Shakespeare or your physics is necessary but simply not enough. It is one reason we put so much stock in the teacher-coach model. The intellectual development of young men and women is an important […]

Another Visit with An Old Friend

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Happy New Year!!  It’s been a long while since the last Chronicle, and one of my Resolutions for 2016 is to be a better and more frequent communicator in that regard.  So . . . The current state and future of our Honor System was the main focus of our annual day-before-second-semester faculty meetings last Monday.  In that vein I was asked to give a brief history of that system, focusing most heavily on its present incarnation, the one started […]