SDA’s Nominee for Teacher of The Year!

Early in June, I received paperwork from the New Jersey Chapter of the Council for America Private Education, asking me for my nomination for Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year. The criteria, according to NJ CAPE was as follows:

An exceptional dedicated, knowledgeable, and skilled teacher.  Able to inspire students of all backgrounds and all abilities to learn.  Have the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues. Be poised, and articulate.

Today, I would like to use this blog as an opportunity to introduce you to Saint Dominic Academy’s nominee for Nonpublic School Teacher of the Year.   Immersed in the teaching profession since 1974, our candidate holds a B.A. from Rowan University, dual M.A.’s from William Paterson and Montclair State, and a Doctorate from Seton Hall University.   He received an award from the Thomas  Jefferson Foundation in 2002 and was named Sussex County Teacher of the year.   Since 1995, he has served as President of the Hampton Township Board of Education and also serves as an executive board member of the Sussex County Historical Society.

A member of the New Jersey Historical Society as well, he was also a two time Jeopardy champion in 1992. At Saint Dominic Academy, where he has worked since 2011, he currently chairs the English and History Departments, serves as Internal Coordinator for Middle States, and this year, taught four AP level classes.  Doctor Joseph Santora, or “Doc” as the students affectionately call him, is a gifted educator, one who believes that success comes with offering a high level of academic performance.  When I asked Doc to briefly surmise his philosophy of education, he shared the insight that All students, regardless of initial skills, can perform at a high level of achievement. I believe in offering students a challenging experience that is both rigorous and relevant to their daily lives.

And he does that daily, in AP History, in AP Government, in U.S. History II Honors, and as the leader of our English and History Departments.   As I stated to the nominating committee, I know I can rely on Doc to give 110% at all times. He is innovative, creative and dedicated to both the study of history and the ideals of Saint Dominic Academy.  My nomination was sent and I know you all join me in wishing Doctor Santora good luck and best wishes. Stay tuned in October to learn if he is named the NJ CAPE teacher of the year!  

Spend An SDA Day at the Races This July!

We are now into the season of summer and with it, vacation planning, if not already completed, is being done in full force.  What are we doing with these lazy, hazy days and beautiful starlit nights?  Here in New Jersey, walking the Boardwalks, visiting the Casino Pier, dipping feet into the ocean, surf casting at twilight- these are just a few of the many things our state has to offer during the warm summer months.  And this year, for the first time, Saint Dominic Academy is embracing a “gift of the Garden State” and hosting a summer event for families, alumnae, and friends of SDA.

The place to be this summer opened in 1870, only 8 years before Saint Dominic Academy opened its doors. Whether you’re a fan of horse racing or not, there is no doubt that a day at Monmouth Park is an experience that every New Jerseyean has to undertake at least once in his or her life. So, if you have not yet come down to the track, make your inaugural visit this summer as part of our SDA Day at the Races.  If you and Monmouth Park are “old buddies”, then please come and celebrate with us this summer. (And, if you are a horse racing expert; find me and help me place my bets please!)

On Sunday, July 23rd, we will host our First Annual SDA Day at the Races at Monmouth Park!  We will celebrate this day with family and friends; children are welcome.  There will be bounce houses, clowns, pony rides, face painting and a playground for the future generation of SDA little girls (and their brothers too of course!)  Food is always available for purchase at the Park, or you can pack a cooler and picnic with friends as the ponies speed by!   Our goal for the day is a simple one; to come together and enjoy each other’s company in this historic and picturesque New Jersey setting.

The SDA Alumnae Association is organizing this event on behalf of the school. The cost is $15.00 and children 18 and under are free.  For more information, you can visit the Alumnae section of the Saint Dominic Academy website.  I will look forward to seeing you in a month at Monmouth Park racetrack, so please, save the date on your summer calendars and join us for some old fashioned NJ fun this July!

Purchase tickets here:

Underclasswomen…You Know The Way!

With this, my 39th blog, we have reached the end of our 2016-2017 school year for all of our students. Exams conclude tomorrow and the young ladies in grades 7-11 are heading off for the summer, some to be part of summer studies programs, some to relax with family and friends, some to vacation at different and exciting locals and all, ( I hope) to complete their summer reading and any other summer assignments given by our dedicated teachers here at Saint Dominic Academy.

For these young women, whether it was their first year as members of the SDA family or they are “seasoned pros”  here at the school, the months of June, July and August are a time not just to relax and regroup, but to take the time to explore new opportunities, ideas and adventures that cannot often be fit in during the course of the school year. The summer is a time for our young ladies to grow as people, to expand their horizons, to expand their friendships and even to expand their education through their summer activities.  I have said more than once this year that all learning does not take place in the classroom and when the days are long and the sun is warm, there is even more of an opportunity for each of our girls to learn more about themselves, about each other, and about the people they want to be next school year as they return to Saint Dominic Academy.

It will seem quiet here without them; the halls ghostly silent, the cafeteria closed, the curtains drawn in the Media Center.  As I sit in my office (and I will take some time away as well to rest and regroup!) I will at times let my mind wander and wonder at what all of our young ladies are doing over the summer. And so, I invite each of you, to reach out to me and email me all about your adventures. Send me some photos, give me a brief description of where you are, what you are doing, and most importantly, what you are learning during the summer!  I’d love to feature some of your summer vacation adventures as part of my blog this year!   

I will miss you very much during the summer months and I will look forward to September when I see you return to the building, relaxed, refreshed, a  bit older and a bit wiser.   Enjoy your well deserved rest and remember, when it’s time to find home, we know the way!  Come home safe and smiling to 2572 in September! Happy summer ladies!

The Friends You Need…

Just yesterday, Saint Dominic Academy proudly hosted the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2017. It was a lovely event and, as I watched the young ladies smile, laugh and cry with their friends, I began to reflect on friendships, especially female friendships and how they manage to sustain us in life.  I am aware of studies that have been done; looking into how social media has given rise to a greater number of casual friendships and how it allows those who might drift apart to at least stay in some sort of touch, even if it is only via the internet.   And so, I am certain that the class of 2017 will remain much more connected to each other than I did with my graduating class back in 1995.

However, when I think about friendships amongst women, my own theory (and let’s keep in mind I am no scientist!) is that there are three friends who each of us really needs as we move into our adult lives.  Now, at the age of 17-18 years old, most of us will not even be aware of these women because our need for them grows as we grow further into adulthood.  However, young women should be on the lookout for these three friends as they come into your lives, because these are the friendships that will sustain you when you get to be my age and older.

The first is the female equivalent of one of those buddy movies- the Thelma to your Louise or perhaps something not quite as crazy.  This is the friend with whom you have some of your best young adult memories; after college, you’re both working and yet you find time for madcap adventures. Road trips to D.C., private parties at the American Museum of Natural History, taking a 13 mile walk around New York City for no real reason; this is your go to girl for fun and laughter, for selfies and memories to last a lifetime. As you both get older and life becomes busy, the selfies may turn into group shots of your kids and the walks may be with strollers to the playground during a visit, but the friendship is still there and at the end of the day, nobody makes you laugh like this friend does!

And, as life becomes busy for women, the next friend each of us needs is the “Been There- Done That, Let Me Tell You What I Learned” friend.  She does not have to be much older than you, but in many ways, she is wiser. This is the friend who has a child older than yours; who you can call at two am to ask about colic or who will tell you that you are doing an amazing job as a mother when your four year old stomps her foot and says she does not like you.  This is the friend whose house you can go to in leggings and  mom hair after a night of little sleep because your child has nightmares and she will speak the best words you will ever hear “ It gets easier; they grow out of it!” The experienced mom friend is a friend you will come to value as life moves along.

Finally, the third friend you will treasure is one you won’t make until your children become social themselves.  It’s the “Mom Friend”.  You strike up friendly chats at dance school or the soccer field, you might grab a coffee and set up an initial playdate with several other parents. And then, for whatever reason, your kids click and you click too.  And this is the friend who is just like you, running from one thing to another, balancing laundry, ballet, communions and birthdays. This is the never ending text message that goes back and forth for eons, because you can just commiserate with each other on any topic at all.  And 9 times out of 10, this is the friend who first hears about any type of frustration you have, regardless of the topic because she can relate.  What would we do without the mom friend?

Of course, you’ll have many more friends than these three; cousins make excellent friends because they know the family history.  Your sister in law eventually becomes your sister and friend, and of course, we know I am a firm believer in the statement “A girl’s best friend is her mother!”  But these three friends, the “buddy”, the “experienced mom” and the “ friend mom”, they will get you through some tough days and they will become your sounding board and support for a lifetime.  Keep your eyes peeled as they enter your life; you’ll be thankful for the rest of it that you have them!