“It’s time to say good-bye, but I think good-byes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure.” – Ernie Harwell
At last Friday’s Morning Meeting, Mr. DiNicola announced that this is his last year teaching math at New School High. In remarks that left many quite emotional, he told the students how he came to be a founder of New School High as a result of his belief that it is possible to create a school where every student is cared about, feels safe, and can be helped to grow into a responsible, compassionate human being. He told the students that he believes the culture we have built at New School High is proof that this belief is correct.
Although Mr. DiNicola trained to be a teacher, after his internship and graduation from Michigan State University he expected to pursue a career in mathematics rather than teaching in a public school. Mathematicians with credentials such as his are in great demand. Then the opportunity to create New School High came about. Fortunately for all of us, he delayed choosing a path in the world of business or technology to dedicate himself to creating New School High.
In 2012 Mr. DiNicola joined the development team and the dream of New School High became a reality in the fall of 2015. Mr. DiNicola is a key figure in shaping New School High: he designed the math curriculum; served as chief technology officer; championed our school’s commitment to standards-based grading, universal design for learning, and restorative practice; founded and advised FIRST Robotics Team #6583; founded the Tabletop and Electronics Games clubs; sought and won numerous grants for classroom equipment; was named a Henry Ford Teaching Fellow; was one of 38 teachers in the state awarded a Michigan Lottery Excellence in Education award; and was chosen to be a part of a University of Michigan School of Education research study on the teaching of mathematics. Not to mention: teaching to how temper chocolate, sort and fold laundry, practice yoga, operate film equipment, fold paper, cook chicken, make a tie-dyed shirt, rake leaves, code, sew…is there anything he won’t try? Our students and staff have benefited from Mr. D’s knowledge, patience, and humor, as well as his determination to convince teen-agers that mathematics is a beautiful and exciting discipline and they should never be afraid of a challenge.
Mr. D. has assured us that his new adventures will not prevent him from staying connected to New School High. One way he will do this is by helping our new math teacher transition into her role. I am pleased to let you know that Ms. Mia Davila, a master teacher with 15 years of experience teaching all levels of high school math, has been hired to begin in the fall. In upcoming communications, I will share plans to introduce her to you before the end of the year.