NEWBERRY — Brian Fitzgerald, head of school at Newberry Academy, wants to be sure that its students are presented with every opportunity to succeed.
Now in his second year at the Academy, Fitzgerald has had previous experience working at other private schools, such as Dillon Christian School and Trinity Christian School where he served as Head of School and Assistant Head of School, respectively.
With right around 200 students, Newberry Academy houses students from 3-year-old kindergarten until 12th grade. Fitzgerald said the school has recently experienced a sharp increase in enrollment.
“They’re students that are looking for an environment where they can be surrounded by achievement and college preparatory classes,” Fitzgerald said.
But he doesn’t take credit for the school’s recent enrollment numbers, but rather says the school in general has been re-energized since his time there began.
“We’ve got a great board of directors,” he said. “They’re very fast-forward, and really take the future of Newberry Academy to heart.”
Fitzgerald said one of the biggest improvements the school has made within the past two years was to examine the curriculum.
“It’s really been redesigned,” Fitzgerald said. “Not just from a standards viewpoint, but what we should do to best serve the children.”
The focus at the Academy, according to Fitzgerald, is now better focused on making sure the teachers are following up on deficiencies students might have within their classes, which has proven to show improvements in standardized test scores.
“We’re afforded that opportunity (being a private school) that when we see an opportunity, we can work on it and take time to make sure students get it,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald feels another improvement at Newberry Academy recently are the social opportunities it provides to students, such as the three exchange students Scotland, Thailand and Taiwan who are currently enrolled.
“Our students are allowed to soak up different experiences,” Fitzgerald said. “Our school is becoming a rich, cultural community.”
As students graduate, Fitzgerald said he wants them to be prepared for different cultural experiences whether they be in college or out in the job force. “We try to present students with rich cultural experiences added to academia,” he said.
New art and drama programs were recently added to the school’s curriculum, as well as more technology courses for students. Fitzgerald said the art program is something he might have started off unsure about, but that the school has wholeheartedly embraced the concept.
After the success of the art program, Fitzgerald said he was faced with the question — could we do drama? With the number of students currently enrolled in the drama program, Fitzgerald said he sees real potential for the current upper school drama program to expand and accommodate middle school students. The ultimate goal would be to have a schoolwide drama production where every student could get involved.
“We want students to have as many opportunities as they can to find their niche,” Fitzgerald said.
Classes such as website design and programming are now slowly being introduced as part of the new technology curriculum at the Academy for students. Fitzgerald said his goal is for students to experience all of the modern nuances the world has to offer to them.
“I’m confident that when our seniors leave here of what they’ll be prepared for what they’re confronted with at the next level,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald said a common phrase when he first accepted his position with Newberry Academy was that they were one of the best kept secrets in Newberry County.
“I don’t want us to be a secret,” Fitzgerald said. “I want us to be a cornerstone in the Newberry Community.”