Dear Families and Friends,
As we have been reflecting and preparing our school for the subsequent school year, the myriad of mixing and intersecting realities and narratives presents one simple question: what does it all mean?
In recent months, making meaning out of these moments has been a point of emphasis for our mission. Our remote learning experience prompts and extends this never ending skepticism about our human experience. But there remains a distinction between healthy and unhealthy skepticism.
We should be sure of certain things, yet skeptical of other things. Assessing our own experience in the context of this larger story around us is the purest human action we can embark upon.
The challenge is this: how do we consider the present to move into the future correctly? The answer can only begin from a true apprehension of what is happening.
How do we get to that point where we can locate the truth among such conflicting and competing sources of information and priorities?
I wish I could give you the answer we need, but that is something I cannot do. I think we can all get there together though, to that place of a common humanity. I can honestly report that my only impulse for this is a faith-filled prism, nothing else. Faith in something greater than me leads us to where we are going, without leaving others behind. The source and object of this faith, frankly, is the revelation of God’s love in the Incarnation. St. Paul says it best:
“For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.” (2 Timothy)
I will say this for the all of us practitioners, the answer is tomorrow: wake up tomorrow and do it better.
Thus, this moment of reflection for me has provided the following maxim: meaning is found in the next moment, not the one prior. Each day is a new moment and we can only control what we can control, and that is what we do to think better about the possibility of a new opportunity: a new opportunity to make a person smile, to encourage another to grow in self-confidence, to explain the truth to a hardened but inquiring skeptic, and to simply be who we are supposed to be for those around us.
I guess I never want to get into the nitty gritty without thinking about the purpose of it all. Thanks for taking this tour through what brought us together to our goals for the upcoming school year. This is the ultimate synthesis of feedback from parents, teachers, students, and partners who value thinking and living the same way we do.
Again, our operational principle is leave no one behind and keep moving forward together, in a common humanity that was made for a purpose greater than any one moment in time.
- We will return to campus on September 1st and resume on campus instruction, still employing prudence to ensure the safety of our school community. We will lobby whoever needs to listen for this human right. Education is a fundamental human right, and it does not happen in separation, but congregation.
- Increase individual student support mechanisms by adding faculty members and expanding our repertoire of creative and effective ways to inclusively support all learners in our classrooms via the Barton program, NHS tutors, targeted curricular implements, and more.
- Implement the recently board adopted graduation requirements that align with mission-driven goals and increase course rigor. This includes requiring an additional credit of humanities-based electives.
- Finalize our revision and realization of a teacher formation process that is truly mission aligned and focused on best practices, both of which originate in the vocation of a teacher.
- Enhance the celebration of the sacred liturgy on campus by creating an environment conducive to active, reverent participation by the faithful. "Sacred buildings and requisites for divine worship should be truly worthy and beautiful and be signs and symbols of heavenly realities." (Cf., Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 122-124)
As previously announced, we are sad to see members of our team leave. The collegiality amongst the faculty and staff is so critical to our mission success. We are encouraged by the mission-minded educators joining our faculty when we return to campus next year. Please join us in welcoming Mrs. Brodigan, Mrs. Puksta, Ms. Figueroa, Ms. Rodriguez, and Mr. Dow. Mrs. Brodigan will assume the role of Office Manager, effective July 1st. Mrs. Sweet will follow her class to fifth grade, and Mrs. Puksta will assume the fourth grade classroom. Ms. Figueoroa will be an additional elementary teacher and our everyday aftercare supervisor, deployed to meet individual student needs. Ms. Rodriguez and Mr. Dow will join our Humanities faculty in the junior high and high school. Mr. Dow will serve the student-athletes of our school as Athletic Director, and Ms. Rodriguez will be our Drama Director. We are also pleased that familiar faces will return to fill out our STEM courses as part-time faculty: Mrs. Numme, Mr. Hennig, and we welcome back Mr. Heath Edwards. We very much appreciate the work of the hiring committee, which began in earnest months ago. Our hearts are filled with joy because so many faithful educators desire working here, at Mount Royal Academy.
Yours truly in Christ,
Mrs. Caroline Brodigan
Mrs. Brodigan graduated from Gettysburg College with a B.A. in English. Prior to Mount Royal Academy, she worked at a private school in Massachusetts for 13 years in development and administration support; later leaving to work with her husband in their family-owned restaurant. A lifelong seasonal resident of Newbury, Mrs. Brodigan, her husband and two children are happy to now call the Sunapee area home.
Mr. Jesse Dow
Mr. Jesse Dow graduated from Magdalen College with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts. He also holds two certifications in Catechesis from the Notre Dame STEP program. Mr. Dow has been in the carpentry business for the last 14 years and currently owns and operates a home remodeling business, Tekton Custom Carpentry. During this time, he has been involved with youth in various ways such as a per diem counselor at Orion House (a residential treatment facility for young men) in Newport, NH; a soccer coach, hockey coach and a fourth grade catechist at Our Lady of Fatima parish in New London where his family are parishioners. From 2015-2017 he was the Director of Religious Education at Sacred Heart parish in Lebanon where he directed the K-10th grade program, was involved with adult faith formation and youth group trips/activities. He is the Co-Director of the St. John Paul II Summer Program which was held at MRA for the first time in 2019. Mr. Dow is an avid New England sports fan and the current head coach of the MRA boys’ varsity soccer team. He resides in New London with wife and five children.
Dr. Heath Edwards
Dr. Heath Edwards received his B.S. in Biology at the University of Pittsburg, and his Doctor of Chiropractic from NYCC. He also holds a Master’s degree in Human Anatomy and Physiology Instruction. He previously taught Anatomy and Physiology at MRA three years ago and is excited to return next year. Currently, he practices chiropractic medicine part-time in Newport, and retains his adjunct faculty position at River Valley Community College. Dr. Edwards resides in Unity, NH with his wife Lynn. Two of his children are graduates of Mount Royal Academy, while a third is entering his senior year.
Ms. Elizabeth Figueroa
Ms. Figueroa graduated from Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts, majoring in Literature. While working in childcare at Christ the King, leading the Dignitas Program as President at Magdalen College, and completing the Cardinal Newman Teaching Institute Internship, Ms. Figueroa discovered that each of these roles greatly contributed to her discernment in accepting a teaching position at Mount Royal Academy. She is a familiar face for our students, having interned here in the spring of 2019. Ms. Figueroa is very excited to join the MRA faculty and to share in the celebration of the school’s mission.
Mr. Rob Hennig
Mr. Hennig is a retired Naval Supply Corps Officer with a Master’s of Science in Management from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA; and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Mathematics and Economics from Fordham University, Bronx, NY. After moving to NH with his wife and three children in 2005, he began teaching at Newport High School as a critical need teacher (Alternative IV) in mathematics. He then became an adjunct professor in mathematics at River Valley Community College in 2008, and has been teaching there since. In the spring semester of 2020, Mr. Hennig taught a Running Start (college credit) Statistics course and tutored students, here at Mount Royal Academy. He resides in Newport, NH, and his family remain parishioners of Saint Patrick’s Church.
Mrs. Pamela Numme
Mrs. Numme holds a Bachelor's degree in Secondary Science Education, and has experience in both private schools and as a homeschool educator for many years. She also helps coordinate a STEM-focused 4-H club in the area. In 2019-2020, she began her tenure at Mount Royal Academy, supporting the students in a variety of ways: substitute teacher, junior high science teacher, and paraeducator in the Garden. She resides in Claremont with her two daughters, and remains eager to inspire students with a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world in which God has placed us.
Mrs. Christine Puksta
Mrs. Puksta attended both the University of Rhode Island and Granite State College earning a B.S. in Applied Studies in Education and Training. She began her teaching career by homeschooling her four children for ten plus years, as well as teaching in a Catholic home school cooperative. It was there that she had the opportunity to develop a course called "Kids and Cultures." The course allowed children to learn world geography in a fun, creative, and hands-on way. This opportunity opened the door for her to become the full-time substitute teacher and eventually a third grade teacher at New England Classical Academy in Claremont, NH. Mrs. Puksta is a parishioner of St. Mary's church in Claremont, NH, where she also resides. She enjoys anything that allows her to get outside including walking, snow shoeing and spending time with her growing family. Mrs. Puksta considers it a blessing to be part of the family at Mount Royal Academy and the new evangelization of the Church.
Ms. Annie Rodriguez
Ms. Annie Rodriguez is originally from Western Massachusetts and is excited to be returning to the North East. After studying Theology and Political Science at Providence College in RI, Ms. Rodriguez completed a Master’s degree in Theology through the University of Notre Dame's Echo program which had her working at a parish in Houston, TX for two years. Ms. Rodriguez's work at her parish was fruitful and fulfilling, but her passion has always been for teaching. She is thrilled to be joining such an intentionally Catholic community of learners, and to be able to grow and develop alongside the MRA family. Ms. Rodriguez is looking forward to moving to the Sunapee area and having the opportunity to dive deeply into an authentically Catholic parish community.