EnRICHing the Dana Hall community

After 19 years of shaping the Dana Hall experience and community, Nancy Rich is saying goodbye.N Rich

As Academic Dean, Ms. Rich oversees the curriculum, faculty professional development, and faculty hiring. She has begun exchange programs with the Sansuena School and the Tokyo Jogakkan School, ran the Senior Projects program for three years, and created the Academic Skills and Strategies Handbook with Sarah Eslick, the School’s first learning specialist. Ms. Rich says, “Being Academic Dean has been wonderful,” though she also enjoys the time she spends working with students. “I love substitute teaching in classes, and teaching in general. Whether teaching Skills 9 or Forum, I enjoy working with students in the classroom.”

Ms. Rich’s favorite aspect of her work is the curriculum development she has done with the Department Heads’ Committee and the Curriculum Committee. “I feel very proud of the contributions we’ve made to shaping the curriculum. We’ve worked very hard over the last 17 years to get the curriculum to be a wonderful reflection of what students need to learn in order to be successful once they leave Dana Hall, for example, adding courses like A.P. Computer Science, Principles in Engineering, Economics, Voices of Black Americans, ArtLab, and Mandarin.”

Almost 10 years ago, Ms. Rich created the School’s Think Tank, a room outside her office with creative puzzles and activities. While it made way for teachers’ office a few years ago, next year students will find a major version of the Think Tank that will open in the fall as the new MakerSpace in the Classroom Building. Ms. Rich reflects, “I am proud of where the curriculum is at this point. The curriculum is one of the major aspects of a school that attracts families to it; it’s important to make it the most beneficial program for students that it can be.”

boat pictureWhen she’s not working, Ms. Rich loves to let her creative side come out, what she calls “a key part of my life that gives me many rewards.” She loves writing and photography, and she has published one book, Afloat on the Tide, a collection of her photographs of dinghies. She is hoping to publish another photography book, Sea Sculptures, once she retires. Ms. Rich has also self-published several books, including Reina, a family history about her mother and her Moroccan family. For this project, she gathered as much history on each family member as she could, commenting, “I had people from all over the world sending me their photographs. I gathered all the photos I could find of the family, and I scanned them into the book.” She has also also done wedding photography and made photo books for friends, and for special events. While working for so long as a school administrator, Ms. Rich says “I needed to have a creative outlet outside of work. I tend to be active around the clock. I love keeping very busy.” 

In addition, she plans on doing promotion work for Afloat on the Tide, and would love to get back to speaking in libraries and book stores about it. Ms. Rich also hopes to get a screenplay done of the 16 of stories she wrote about her “second mom,” as well as “do some writing and reading, playing the piano, and refreshing my French and Spanish.” Ms. Rich will also travel to Madison, Wisconsin, “where I went to college and loved it.” She adds, “I have so many projects,” and she is very enthusiastic about being able to spend more time working on them. “There’s this person in me that needs to get out. I love to paint, and I want to do more traveling. I also have wonderful friends I want to spend more time with.” Now that she is retiring, she will be able to focus on the many creative projects she has planned.

 Sansuena-310x206Ms. Rich began working at Dana Hall in 1985 as the Middle School’s first school counselor. After two years, she moved to New Jersey, working at the Dwight-Englewood School, where she spent 7 years as the Dean of Academic and Administrative Services and 5 years as the Lower School Principal. In 1999, Ms. Rich returned to Dana Hall and has since held many positions, as the Assistant Head of School, Director of the Upper School, Director of the Middle School, and Academic Dean.

While Ms. Rich is happy to spend more time with her creative side, she will miss Dana Hall a great deal. “The things I’ll miss the most about Dana Hall are the wonderful community of faculty, staff, and students, the reward of working with department heads and the faculty on curriculum, and creating the best possible program for the students.” She feels from her time at Dana Hall that she has learned to “make contributions whenever you can and look at and value the good in every opportunity that comes your way.”

Photographs: Nancy Rich looking through the family history she compiled, as well as one of her own photographs. Bottom right: Ms. Rich poses with Charo Conde and Silvia Garcia Perez, head of school and English teacher, respectively, at Sansueña School.

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