From Donald M. Austin, Head of School
May 3, 2019
Choosing Extraordinary
December 10, 2019
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From Donald M. Austin, Head of School

Making Meaningful and Original Contributions to the World

This issue of LUMEN profiles a number of alumni who have made marks on the world by creating their own businesses. What did they learn at Newark Academy that may have contributed to their success? Emily Li Mandri ’05 credits the experience she had here in studio art classes with the sense of validation and self-confidence that has propelled her clothing, textile, and accessories businesses. Nihal Mehta ’95, founder of the investment firm Eniac Ventures, says of his time at NA, “I got an amazing education, but it was the hours after school from 2:30 to 9 p.m., working on the Minuteman, serving as captain of the cross-country team, and playing in the band that were the most formative in the long run.” Reflecting on his current role, he continues: “My ability to work with a variety of constituents on very different tasks is something I learned in high school, and it has stuck with me ever since.”

Newark Academy creates an environment rich in opportunities for students to acquire skills and habits of mind. Beyond the important content of their core academic classes, students develop skills of collaboration, creative problem-solving, risk-taking and leadership. These abilities bring substantial personal growth, helping to build confidence and reveal untapped potential. We regularly hear how well our graduates find they are prepared for college – and later for the work force – and it is striking how often they ascend to roles of leadership and influence. One noteworthy feature of the current job market is that, although technical and information skills are desirable, many employers still identify “soft skills” as essential. Our sophomores and juniors recently heard precisely this message in a special “Future of Work” program that included many alumni and parents speaking about how their professions are changing. Two parents who are business consultants shared a McKinsey report on the skills of the future: in addition to basic digital proficiency and advanced IT capacity, these include creativity, entrepreneurship and leadership.

“Newark Academy creates an environment rich in opportunities for students to acquire skills and habits of mind.”– Donald M. Austin, Head of School

As you read the profiles of Newark Academy alumni who are successful entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers, you will see that they combine competency in their given fields with the social and emotional skills that are necessary for effective leadership. Similarly, the many opportunities current students have for creativity and leadership are described in the feature articles by Jeff Vinikoor and Jessica Lubow.

I believe there is a clear through-line between the skills that students learn at Newark Academy – both in the classroom and through the rich array of athletics, community service, clubs and other experiences – and the demonstrated capacity of our graduates to make meaningful and original contributions to the world.

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