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Picking Up the Whistle - Harrisburg Academy


- Picking Up the Whistle:
 
It wasn't until one of my players called me "coach" on the first day of practice that I realized how much I missed coaching. I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to coach basketball, football, and track at different points during my career, and to coach students that I work with in the classroom setting. I find that students display different characteristics on the court than they do in the classroom and I appreciate the way coaching allows me to connect with players in a way that I never can as their principal.
 
Athletics offer an important opportunity for our students to learn about their strengths and limitations and how to work together to achieve a common mission. Few of my memories from my middle school experience are of awesome history lectures or science experiments (sorry Mr. Brawley and Mrs. Johnson). However, I still have memories of road trips, game fouls (some might say I was an over-aggressive hack), and victory celebrations with my friends.
 
Middle School is still a great time to try out a sport for the first time. The Academy's no-cut athletics policy encourages all students to participate and reach their own personal level of success. I enjoy working with the Middle Schoolers, helping them learn the basics of the game. No matter what skills a player has at the start of the season, it is rewarding to see just how far they've progressed at the end.
 
This year, both of our Middle School Basketball teams made it the Central Pennsylvania Basketball League (CPBL) Championships, a valuable accomplishment. The MS Girls' team won its Championship game against Harrisburg JCC, and although the MS Boys' did not meet the same fate, to make it to the Championships was a victorious end to an already successful season.
 
As I interview potential teachers at the Academy, one of the questions I always ask is, "Tell me about the times where you have worked as part of a team," because I want to hear about candidates' experiences working towards a common goal. I am so pleased with the MS Boys' Basketball team that we built and most importantly, our common goal of supporting and encouraging one another.
 
- A Blueprint for the Academy's Future:
 
In creating the model for our strategic planning, the administration made a few key decisions. First, we endeavored to engage our entire school community in the process. This approach allows all Academy community stakeholders, as well as friends of the Academy, to provide feedback. We also decided to shorten the strategic planning timeline from five years to just three. This allows the Academy to more quickly adapt and react to the rapidly changing educational world in which we function.
 
At the core of the strategic planning process is our Planning Committee, made up of trustees, parents, faculty, and administrators. This group attends each of the strategic planning meetings and engages in the many group conversations that generate a whole host of innovative ideas and suggestions.
 
Our first few strategic planning meetings have resulted in thought-provoking conversations and creative ideas. Each week the dynamics are different, as new parents and community members join the discussion. By using one broad question each week, the meetings become our own Academy "think tank," as multiple groups wrestle with the same question but come up with radically different feedback. The five guiding questions used in our strategic planning model are as follows:
 
How do we achieve the long term enrollment goals at the Academy?
What internal improvements and partnerships with other organizations (including global ones) can be made to the academic, extracurricular, and co-curricular programs to provide an experience of excellence for our students? (April 24)
 
How does the Academy best demonstrate its value to parents, alumni, and the greater Harrisburg community? (April 30)
 
How does the Academy achieve the goals of our new Comprehensive Campaign and continue to build a culture of philanthropy? (May 15)
 
How does the Academy attract, cultivate, and retain its most talented faculty to achieve the mission of Harrisburg Academy and provide our students with the 21st century skills they need? (May 22)
 
Please join us for our two final conversations. Don't miss your chance to have your fingerprint on the blueprint for the Academy's future.
 
For more information, please visit our website.

 

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