Nothing Succeeds Like Success
Behind every great person stands a great advisor. Alexander the Great’s advisor was the Greek philosopher Aristotle—he helped Alexander understand the meaning of a virtuous life. The great Mexican painter Frida Kahlo drew inspiration and instruction from her husband and partner Diego Rivera. And, of course, Luke Skywalker’s advisor was Obi-Wan Kenobi—he taught the young Jedi knight to use the force. The common thread in these—and many other—relationships is that the advisor noticed a talent and strength in the advisee and nurtured their development.
MSA’s faculty is known for helping students recognize their talents and understand their potential. Since they get to know their students well on a daily basis, the faculty can assist them in learning what a virtuous life means, encourage them to take their thoughts and ideas seriously, inspire them to pursue their dreams, and teach each student “to use the force” to find success and happiness in life.
In accord with this mission and to deepen its impact, MSA will launch a Student Success Center (SSC) to ensure that its students are provided the resources, advising, and support to maximize their potential—both inside and outside the classroom. Building upon the proven success of its current advisory system, its peer-tutoring program, its writing center, and its college placement office, the SSC will work to meet the needs of students.
The Student Success Center will provide a supervised study space where students can complete homework with on-site coaching on organization and study skills. It will facilitate academic support for students through a new math lab and an improved writing center. It will provide hands-on coaching in how to study and prepare for quizzes and tests. Additionally, the SSC will give assistance in organization, in setting priorities for assigned reading and completion of homework, and in tailored strategies for researching, outlining, and writing academic essays.
The SSC will also support and oversee students pursuing internships, mentorships, independent studies, and distance-learning. In addition, SSC staff will help students discover new opportunities to pursue their interests through extracurricular and summer enrichment programs. This is the kind of personal nurturing that public schools cannot supply and that only independent schools at their best can deliver.
Beginning after spring break, LeAnne Brubaker will make the transition from her current position as business manager to the full-time director of the SSC. Brubaker brings over thirty years of experience managing student-learning programs in both the public and the private sector. She has taught courses on educational practices and pedagogical methodologies at James Madison University and the University of Virginia.
Her success led to a position with Albemarle County Public Schools, in which she counseled and supervised academically gifted students and worked up specialized programs for all students to develop their talents, interests, and personal goals. This work included collaborating with faculty to support their educational missions within the classroom, as well as partnerships with community and national organizations to provide unique learning opportunities for students. Leading MSA’s SSC will allow Brubaker to serve the school in a capacity that best reflects her blend of talents, training, and background.
Brubaker commented: "It is wonderful to return to my professional roots in this role and to help design and direct a dedicated Center for student support and success."
Head of School, Michael Drude, commented: “It is our intention that by creating this Success Center, Miller fully embraces a student’s journey during their time at Miller. We say we ‘meet students where they are’ and want to ensure we are actually doing that and see to it that each individual’s journey here at Miller produces the desired outcomes.”
MSA students may not, like Alexander, end up conquering the world, and it might be difficult to find an Aristotle for its faculty. But with the creation of the Student Success Center, MSA will be taking a giant step toward accomplishing its goals—to take advantage of the uniquely intimate setting of an independent school and nourish the social/emotional health of its students, not just their academic development. The SSC will give MSA the opportunity to leverage its existing programs, building upon past accomplishments to bring its students closer to achieving success in their life-long goals.