Ridgefield Academy opened its doors for its 45th year to over 510 students across four campuses on September 3. RA Lower and Middle School students arrived at a gleaming campus and the welcome cheers of Grade 8 students, heralding in the start of the 2019-2020 school year. Preschool students were also welcomed on campus for visitation day and met their teachers for the first time.
This will be Head of School Tom Main’s second year at the helm of RA. Prior to becoming Head, Main served on the RA Board of Trustees for nine years, so he is well acquainted with the school. Tom is a seasoned administrator and school leader, having served as an Upper School
Head for seven years, as well as serving for the past seventeen years as a Head of School. His vision is to ensure that all RA students will have the character, critical thinking, communication and STEM literacy skills to adapt and succeed in the evolving academic and economic landscapes of the future. He is committed to ensuring that students graduating from Grade 8 at RA are fully prepared to be highly successful at another independent school or their local public school. Further, Main believes that great schools, and great learning, are joyful pursuits.
Teachers and students, at every level, should be engaged and connected, and the process of education should be both highly demanding and quite thrilling. This requires RA to be an agile school, adjusting thoughtfully to emerging demands, while holding on to what makes for a good and enduring education. “ As the world does not stand still, the profession of education does not stand still, and so we embrace our role as lifelong learners,” said Main. Students at RA are nurtured to become their authentic selves, and they experience the wonder of becoming the people they are meant to be.
Since Main has joined the school in fall 2018, several new initiatives have been launched. After a thoughtful review and re-writing of the school’s mission statement, Main has successfully collaborated with the board of trustees on a comprehensive strategic plan that will serve as a road map to deliver on the school’s mission. Main believes, “A great school should develop intentionally and thoughtfully, and over time, so initiatives are able to become fully integrated into the fabric of the school. A thoughtful strategic planning process, and a commitment to that plan, assures this.” The Lower School is broadening and deepening implementation of the Columbia Teachers College reading and writing workshops, with several more teachers having attended workshops in New York City this summer. The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning continues to serve as the hub of curriculum development, and this year will plan the enhancement of the educational program in Grades 5-8 through the addition of a thematic component to the work done in each grade. This summer, the Center hosted an all faculty and staff read of David Perkins’ groundbreaking book, Future Wise: Educating our Children for a Changing World, and will continue to support faculty professional development in order to further develop a challenging, meaningful, and life worthy curriculum.
The opening days of school brought with it several RA traditions. Grade 8, who are leaders and role models for the school, participated in an afternoon of team building and leadership activities at the Sal J. Prezioso Mountain Lakes Park. They then received personalized RA sweatshirts, a traditional right of passage for this class. The school bell was rung by kindergarteners and other students new to the school, to signify the momentous beginning of their RA journey. Excitement and anticipation filled the air as Grade 8 students met their kindergarten buddies and then gifted their buddies with RA t-shirts during Morning Assembly.
As the year stretches out before us, faculty and staff members look forward to better understanding each child as a learner and an individual within our vibrant and kind community. We look forward to a year of discovery and skill-building in an environment that is ripe for exploration, risk-taking, and leadership.
The Ridgefield Academy and Landmark Preschool community celebrates childhood, pursues excellence, and cultivates kindness. Our educational program is intellectually inspiring, and we foster joyful learning with mutual respect in all that we do. We empower each student to rise to their authentic self, preparing confident graduates who shape their future with ingenuity and integrity.