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During his first Chapel presentations to Middle and Upper schools, new Head of School Travis Larrabee spoke about the calling he felt to become an educator, what he sees as one of the missions of education, and how that mission brought him to Norfolk Academy.  Mr. Larrabee emphasized the value of teaching holistically, meaning approaching learning in a way that engages students' mind, body, and character. He saw that on full display everywhere at the Academy.

“The opening of our school’s philosophy reads: 'Norfolk Academy...strives to assist its students to develop maturity of mind, body, and character.' This holistic view and approach is a core element of my identity and work as an educator," he said. “I heard about it when I interviewed. And now that I am here at NA, I see it all around me."

In the classroom, students have a diverse program of academic offerings to strengthen their minds. Teacher-coaches help keep their bodies in shape through both athletics teams and fine arts activities, and trainers and physical education teachers demonstrate the importance of nutrition, health, even processing anxiety and pressure.  When he spoke about character, Mr. Larrabee offered two challenges to students. Build genuine, strong friendships, he said. Such relationships are beneficial to social-emotional wellbeing. But, they require time, effort, listening, helping, sharing, and even struggling together. He also called on students to be compassionate to others. This will have dual benefits.

“Through focusing our attention and efforts on others, we build our own inner reserves, our empathy, our instinctive generosity. So exercising compassion for others is one of the very best ways to fortify moral strength within yourself, of building your character," he said.

He encouraged students to dedicate themselves fully to learning experiences so that they grow and flourish, and to ask themselves how they will apply all the knowledge and wisdom in a wider context.

“Collectively as a school, across disciplines, in the Arts, Academics, and Athletics, and in so many co-curricular offerings – the best educational experiences you will have will engage your mind and your head, they will engage your body and your heart, and they will engage your character, your spirit and the spaces in between," he said. “This happens at this great place."


Head of School Travis Larrabee greets first graders on the first day of classes for the 2023-24 school year, August 23, 2023.

Head of School Travis Larrabee greets first graders on the first day of classes for the 2023-24 school year, August 23, 2023.

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