Valued Voices
Exciting Choices

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CHKD
Mike Connors

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic understandably continues to leave parents and students with plenty of questions.

With that in mind, Norfolk Academy recently held two Zoom gatherings in which pediatricians from Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters provided information and advice about both the pandemic and how to make children more comfortable as they return to school.  

While for Lower School families, the sessions provided help that parents with children of all ages might find useful. Lower School Guidance Counselor Katie Aladj hosted the sessions, during which Dr. Fred Fink '73, Dr. Paige Frazer '89, and Dr. Dana Ramirez offered data and answered questions.

The doctors started with important COVID-19 definitions, data, and symptoms. Among them:

  • The most common symptoms for children up to age 9 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Headache, runny nose, and diarrhea are among the other symptoms. Loss of smell and taste are rare among young students.
  • The virus spreads most often through respiratory droplets, which travel via coughing, sneezing, singing, and through other secretions.
  • Students are more at risk when they've been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Close contact is considered being within 6 feet of the person for more than 15 minutes.
  • In the United States, children up to age 17 make up 22 percent of the population, but 9.3 percent of COVID-19 cases. As of late August, no children in the state of Virginia had died as a result of COVID-19. 

What can be done to reduce the risk of testing positive for COVID-19?

  • The doctors emphasized the importance of wearing a mask, keeping a safe social distance from others, washing and cleaning hands regularly, and constantly screening your children for symptoms. It is crucial that anyone exhibiting symptoms remain home, they said.

Academy is requiring everyone to wear masks as it opens campus, and has set up classrooms in ways that follow state guidance on social distancing. Teachers have been providing time for hand cleaning. The school also is checking temperatures each morning with thermal scanners, sending anyone registering 100.4 degrees or higher to the nurse's office for evaluation.  

Children might easily understand their expectations if parents encourage the 3 W's, the doctors said.

  • Wear a mask (which covers mouth and nose).
  • Wash your hands.
  • Watch your distance. An easy way to estimate 6 feet is to spread your arms and fingers wide and make sure you're not touching anyone.

These are changes from the norm, and it's inevitable that some children will be anxious, the doctors said. What can parents do for comfort?

  • Keep in touch with loved ones. Zooming with a grandparent or friend at risk can be calming. 
  • Be open about your own feelings and talk about how you are managing emotions.
  • Look forward, offering reassurance that scientists are working hard on a vaccine and the situation will get better.
  • Offer compassion more often. Hugs and saying "I love you" can go a long way.
  • Continue basic health habits: Get plenty of sunshine and exercise, eat healthy meals, and manage screen time.

More than a dozen resources related to the CHKD presentation are available on Academy's COVID-19 updates page. This page also has the school's latest scheduling information, letters to families, and medical websites. 

Please read more about the safety measures Academy has implemented, many of which will continue to be valuable after the pandemic has subsided.

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  • COVID-19
Dobbs
Mike Connors

Stacy Dobbs begins in 2020-21 as a Lower School Librarian.

Academic background:
B.A., Longwood University
M.L.I.S., Old Dominion University

Additional experience:
Born and raised on Virginia's Eastern Shore, Mrs. Dobbs graduated with honors from Longwood University in 1999, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies and earning her license for instruction in grades pre-K through 8. She taught math and science for one year in Prince Edward County then moved to Virginia Beach, where she taught in a middle school in Virginia Beach Public Schools for 20 years. The majority of her time there was spent as a history instructor, but she also taught math and English during her tenure. After many rewarding years in the classroom, Mrs. Dobbs decided to pursue her passion for libraries and literacy. She received her master's degree in Library and Information Science from Old Dominion University in 2020, and is excited to bring her teaching experience, skills, creativity, and love of reading to the students at Norfolk Academy.

Tell us why you wanted to become an educator:
I have always loved working with kids and have wanted to be a teacher for so long that I can’t remember wanting to do anything else. Even as a teenager, I babysat, tutored students in the summer, and worked for Project Headstart as one of my first “real jobs” in high school. 

What most excites you about working at Norfolk Academy?
I love the respect that staff and students show each other, and I appreciate the value of the Honor Code as a critical component of this school.

Norfolk Academy is unique because…
It is truly a family atmosphere! I love how welcoming, inclusive, and kind everyone has been.

Last book read: 
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

What do you like to do in your own time/when you’re not working? 
Spending time with my family, especially at the beach!  

Favorite food? 
Pizza

A movie is being made about your life. Who would they cast to play you? 
Renee Zellweger

Fun fact your students might find surprising: 
I love to decorate cakes, the crazier the better. I made my daughter a coronavirus cake for her sweet 16 in quarantine in April.

“When I grow up, I want to be…”  
An archaeologist.

  • Cooper Library
Suzy Gunn
  • Alumni News
Mike Connors

Suzy Gunn '01 begins her first full year as a Lower School Dance Instructor in 2020-21, after joining Norfolk Academy in 2019.

Academic background:
B.A., University of Virginia

Additional experience:
A 2001 Norfolk Academy graduate (she attended junior and senior proms with her husband), Mrs. Gunn began studying ballet, jazz, and modern dance under Elbert Watson at the age of 6. She also had training at Virginia Ballet Theater and the Virginia Beach Ballet Academy. She was a member of the Norfolk Academy dance team from seventh through 12th grades. She attended UVA to study engineering and German language, and spent a significant amount of time teaching and performing ballet with fellow students in the Rhapsody Ballet Ensemble and the University Dance Club. She then taught dance and gymnastics at the New York Kids Club in New York City, and dance schools in South Carolina and California. She returned home to instruct at Norfolk Academy during the 2019-20 academic year.

Tell us why you wanted to become an educator:
Several teachers made a huge impact on my life at Norfolk Academy, and I would love to give as many children as possible that same measure of support and encouragement.

What most excites you about working at Norfolk Academy?
I love the family environment and the chance to work together as a team.

Norfolk Academy is unique because…
I believe that Norfolk Academy instills a wonderful sense of honor and belonging in its student body, and that these characteristics live longer in memory than academic study.

Last book read:
Stamped From the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi

What do you like to do in your own time/when you’re not working?
I love running and walking with my family and dog, reading, and dancing as often as possible!

Favorite food?
Sushi!

A movie is being made about your life. Who would they cast to play you?
My dream would be 1990s Meg Ryan!

Fun fact your students might find surprising:
I hate to wear high-heeled shoes, and I don't have any!

“When I grow up, I want to be…”
Just like Mr. Watson:)

  • Alumni
  • Dance
  • Fine Arts
9-11
Mike Connors

Friday, September 11 marked the 19th anniversary of terror attacks that killed roughly 3,000 people.

Headmaster Dennis Manning had been in his position about a week when that tragedy unfolded in New York, Pennsylvania, and around our nation's capital. He can still remember the day vividly.

In an interview that aired on WAVY-TV, Mr. Manning spoke about the tragedy and the response of students who have grown up during the past 19 years. 

“You could start to think maybe they have been somehow diminished by this, but absolutely to the contrary,” Mr. Manning said.

“If anything, the way the students have responded to redouble their own efforts in terms of engaging with the community, and with each other. They constantly are demonstrating the humanity contrary to the graphic scenes of terror they have seen and witnessed.”  

To watch the full news report, see WAVY-TV's site

Evan
Mike Connors

Evan Mitchell begins in 2020-21 as a Middle School Spanish Teacher. He also will coach basketball and baseball.

Academic background:
B.A., Davidson College

Additional experience:
A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Mr. Mitchell attended Tower Hill, an independent K-12 school where he was an accomplished three-sport athlete and worked as a baseball camp counselor during the summers. He then attended Davidson College, where he pursued his language interests. He lived and studied abroad in 2015-16 in Arequipa, Peru, where he grew his language skills, traveled through parts of South America, and played semi-pro baseball in a small Peruvian league. Upon graduation from Davidson in 2017, he worked at IBM as a technology consultant based in Chicago. At IBM, he specialized in software design and taught Design Thinking workshops with clients throughout Latin America. During this period, He also served as a mentor to eighth grade students in SPARK, an educational organization that helps Chicago youth develop skills and learn about careers in technology.

Tell us why you wanted to become an educator:
I was always taught that everyone should work at a job that excites them and that matters. Most of my family works in education and I’ve always loved working with kids. I love to coach and teach, so being an educator was a perfect fit.

What most excites you about working at Norfolk Academy?
The kids! The students are incredibly talented and hardworking, which makes teaching an absolute pleasure. Norfolk Academy also has an outstanding reputation for supporting its faculty and staff, which makes it a great place to work.

Norfolk Academy is unique because…
The school operates quite impressively - from the reopening plan to the distance learning plan and everything in-between, every detail is meticulously thought through to set up the students for success. The approach to the 2020-21 school year and the preparation that has gone into safely returning to school is emblematic of a culture of excellence that is rare, even in the independent school community.

Last book read:
Colson Whitehead’s Nickel Boys. A fantastic read.

What do you like to do in your own time/when you’re not working?
I love any activity that takes me outside! This year’s goal is to learn how to surf.

Favorite food?
It’s a tie - Sushi and Pistachio Halo Top Ice Cream.

A movie is being made about your life. Who would they cast to play you?
John Krasinski

Fun fact your students might find surprising:
I’m a novice beekeeper. When I spend time at home in Delaware, I help my dad tend to his beehives. He has had them for years, but I only recently became involved. Extracting honey from the hives is my favorite part!

“When I grow up, I want to be…”
Stephen Curry. I’m still waiting for the Warriors to hold open tryouts, but I’ll be ready when they do.