The New and the Tried and True

We recently asked Dan Kiley, one of Fessenden’s most beloved and longest-tenured faculty members, to share his thoughts on the start of the 2016-2017 academic year. fessenden_051216_7422-3

For me, the opening of a new school year always conjures feelings of excitement mixed with trepidation and anxiety. After nearly forty years of teaching, I still get “butterflies” before the first day, anticipating meeting new people, making new friends, and having new experiences.

And yet, my angst is more than tempered by the knowledge that I am also reconnecting with the familiar; seeing old friends and colleagues, being in a place that I have grown to love and, once again, engaging in the rewarding experience of teaching and learning along with our students.

This year at Fessenden, there is so much that is new. There are twenty new members of the faculty and staff, spectacular new facilities like the Ciongoli Center for Innovation, a state-of-the-art educational img_3675resource that will support the already robust learning environment at our school, and even spiffy new signs at the entrances.

Nevertheless, some things never change at Fessenden. I’m amazed at how quickly a student’s  new teacher becomes a trusted confidante; how a gathering of faculty around the coffee machine turns into a spontaneous strategy meeting about a student’s needs; how a homesick boarding student receives unexpected care and concern from a legion of caring adults.

On our first day, we gathered together in the great wood-paneled Schoolroom, a place that has meant so much to generations of Fessenden students, to welcome the Upper School boys to the new academic year. “Newbies” sat among the veterans who have been at Fessenden since kindergarten, and I was struck by how quickly they blended together as one, forging new friendships with each other, the old merging with the new.

I glanced behind me as I sat in the back of the room. From the Schoolroom, full of flags from countries all over the world who have sent their sons to Fessenden, I looked down into the  impressive glass and steel expanse of the Ciongoli Center for Innovation. The new structure nestles up to the old Schoolroom comfortably and naturally, as though they were always meant to be together, a perfect juxtapositioning of the old and new.

Fessenden has always been a place where valued traditions have been held dear while new ideas and possibilities have been embraced and fostered. Our culture supports both innovative and time-honored approaches to learning, and our faculty seek the most effective ways to inspire our students to think critically and creatively and become the good citizens the world needs them to be.

What a great way to spend another year!

Learn more about Fessenden’s Pre-K – Grade 4 and Grades 5-9.

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