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Academy of ‘Excellence’ – Nashua school earns designation

By Grace Pecci - Staff Writer | May 15, 2019

Telegraph photo by GRACE PECCI Academy for Science and Design students stand proudly Monday afternoon after learning that their school has received the honor of becoming the 2019 Secondary School of Excellence.

NASHUA – The Academy for Science and Design recently earned the designation of being the 2019 Secondary School of Excellence in New Hampshire.

Monday, members from the New Hampshire Excellence in Education Awards Committee, also known as EDies, visited the school to announce the award during a surprise school assembly.

EDies officials look for schools that meet competencies, which are schools that:

• Have curriculum and instructional practices presented in a rigorous, relevant and engaging learning environment;

• Organize community members, ensuring they all have a role in building the school’s climate and culture;

• Have the school’s vision, mission and goals clearly articulated, well communicated and guide practice;

• Have an effective system for utilizing data and information that supports personalization; and

• Have a culture of empowerment among students, staff, teachers, administration, and community members.

Schools were required to submit an application no later than Dec. 4. In January, Academy for Science and Design was invited to present to the selection committee and did so on Jan. 20 at Southern New Hampshire University. By March, the academy was one of the schools to be informed it would receive a school visit by the selection committee, which occurred on March 13.

The awards selection committee chooses an outstanding elementary, middle and secondary school each year based on criteria determined by its board of directors.

Selection committee member Cynthia Freyberger said the purpose of school visits is to see education in action.

Freyberger told students Monday that when they visit schools, they are very accustomed to being brought into a room in which parents, teachers and administrators talk about all the great things their schools have to offer.

Freyberger said at the academy, they were brought into the school’s innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) lab where students were working on assignments.

“All of a sudden, a flash mob came out and the committee members looked at each other and I said, ‘I think we’re in for something special,'” Freyberger said.

After visiting classrooms, speaking with teachers, students, parents, board members and reviewing curriculum documents, Freyberger said when the selection community came together, the first thing that came to their collective mind when it came to the academy was community.

“We saw community all revolving around learning,” Freyberger said. “(We saw) that all of you were learners, whether you were adults in the building, administrators in the building or whether you were a parent that was coming in or the student. Everybody is involved in learning.”

Freyberger said at the school, they’ve personalized knowledge.

“Not only are you being challenged to go deep into those knowledge of skills, but you’re doing it around your passion and your interest,” Freyberger said. “And the bottom line was, when we asked students, ‘What about this place, why do you think it’s so good?’ They said to us, ‘I can’t think of going anywhere else.'”

Academy Director Jennifer Cava thanked the committees and sponsors for giving them an opportunity to share their school.

“We have always been excellent. But when you think about excellence, what is it?” Cava asked students. “We do a great job in school, in our learning, our seniors are going off to amazing colleges — we’re really successful in amazing ways. But I think, truly, what makes us excellent is our community and who we are to each other. And we know that we have a really special place here, so I am honored to be here with you on this part of your journey.”

Academy spokeswoman Amy Bewley added, “We are incredibly proud that the New Hampshire Excellence in Education Awards selection committee has selected the Academy for Science and Design as the 2019 Secondary School of Excellence. Our teachers, staff and administrators work hard each and every day to not only teach our students, but to mentor and guide them, and receiving this honor validates all of their efforts.”

School officials have been invited to attend the June 8 New Hampshire Excellence in Education Awards Ceremony June 8.

The Academy for Science and Design (ASD) is a STEM-focused public charter school that opened in 2007.


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