A View From My Office

A Message from the Head of School: A View from My Home Office

Dear NDA Family,

Today is January 13th. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 22,522,749 total cases and 375,124 total deaths resulting from COVID-19 in the US, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 89,707,115 total cases and 1,940,352 total deaths around the world. According to the researchers at Our World in Data, more than 28.4 million doses worldwide have now been administered. The US alone has administered

8.99 million. The weekly report indicates that as of January 7th, there have been 141,108 total cumulative vaccine doses administered, most focused on healthcare workers and most recently fire responders. Even as those numbers move in a positive direction, we must remember that herd immunity will unlikely happen in 2021, and masking and social distancing will likely be required throughout this year.

As I sit at the desk in my home office, I am grateful for some sunshine even on cold days; I take a break to play a little tug of war with Mia and Bianca; I enjoy three new amaryllis bulbs getting ready to bloom (even without water as the bulbs are waxed!), and as I sip my cup of tea, I reflect on the first 13 days of 2021 which have brought me hopefulness that the new vaccines will begin to reduce COVID spread, fear and anxiety after watching the terrifying riots at the U.S Capitol, and sparkles from the beautiful engagement ring given to me on New Year’s Day.

One of the muscles that 2020 stretched for us is the ability to feel many emotions all at once. There are constant fears of getting sick, missing true connections with loved ones, and yearning for substantial social interactions. Yet there are still wonderful things happening, babies being born, and milestones to be celebrated. This emotional bipolarity, which is sometimes exhausting, also is what allows us to endure the tough days and allows us to look forward to the better days post pandemic.

Even during our extended virtual period, our days at NDA continue to be filled with exciting learning lessons and activities. Just a few examples are noted below:

  • In my Business Class, over the holiday break, each student read a book about leadership, many about women and leadership. They each had to do a written paper and this week they are also sharing an oral presentation and slides with their classmates. It has been wonderful hearing them share what they enjoyed and what has resonated with them with each of the books they have read, including Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur by Cara Alwill Leyba, Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis, and Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.
  • After studying poems by Emily Dickinson, and in particular her poem, “I am Nobody, Who are You?” Mrs. Tsantinis asked students to reflect on the idea of a public vs. a private life by examining Dickinson's desire for anonymity as compared to Kim Kardashian’s self-proclaimed wish for “publicity and fame.” Students could use their own personal experiences on social media to support their thesis.
  • Mrs. Connor’s 7th-grade math class watched "Hidden Figures" and just started a project on “Women in Mathematics.” Each pair of students will pick a woman who has made a significant contribution to mathematics and prepare a slideshow on that contribution, how we still use it today, and any struggle they faced along the way.
  • In Religion class, Grade 8 students were asked "What does it mean to have someone who is always there for you?" The class participated in a Jamboard, and the majority of the students pointed to "unconditional love" and immediately mentioned that they know that their parents, hands down, are always there for them even if they don’t agree with them. It’s always a nice reminder for parents to know that their young adult children do appreciate and value what they do for them.
  • Mr. Wilson’s World History II students have prepared an art, music, and poetry segment as a Google slide presentation. For example, when they recently covered the French Revolution, students presented on Neo-Classical and Romantic Art, ballet and opera, and French art as a form of political propaganda. Their next project will focus on the "cultural impact of World War I" and each student will have to memorize and present a poet and poem of WWI, a piece of political propaganda and a series of photographs depicting the horrors of the war, and lastly, a letter written by a soldier who sent the letter home to a loved one. The final project asks them to play, on-line, a musical piece from WWI and to explain the lyrics. The students are enjoying this format of presenting.
  • Mrs. Isakson’s 7th-grade Geography class is doing a unit on Economics. She asked the students to write down what expenses they think are needed to run a household: mortgage/rent, utilities, car, etc. She then gave them a hypothetical gross income. Next, they needed to determine the correct percentages for federal and state taxes, social security, and health insurance to determine their net income. Lastly, they deducted what was needed to run a household. According to Mrs. I, they were a bit aghast after seeing what was "left" for extras such as recreation, etc. This was an eye-opening exercise for them to realize the importance of budgeting.
  • Ms. Mason’s students in Grade 11 Scripture Studies each chose an important discovery in Biblical archaeology to research. They then presented to their classmates’ slideshows about the discoveries and how they enhance our understanding of the Bible.
  • Students in Ms. Mason’s Grade 9 Latin Studies each chose a Latin Motto to research, created an illustration highlighting key aspects of it, and presented to their classmates their research on the origins and use of this motto, and how they can apply it to their own lives.
  • Ms. Germain’s 7th and 8th-grade Physical Education students are experimenting with a Physical Activity Choice Board over the next two weeks. The Choice Board gives students the flexibility to choose a physical activity, nutritional habit, or mindfulness practice to complete every day over the next two weeks. Students will be reflecting on how they feel, both physically and mentally, prior to, during, and after completing each Choice Board task. Students are empowered by having this choice to complete a specific task but are also entrusted to utilize time management skills to identify different times of the day to prioritize their health.

In other Athletic news, both the NDA Ski Club and JV and Varsity Basketball seasons are underway. The NDA Ski Club enjoyed their second evening at Wachusett last night. And new this year, YouTube Live is being used to stream our basketball games. Our first home game is today vs. Hopedale at 4 pm for JV and 6 pm for Varsity. The link to the live stream will be tweeted out prior to the game by following @ndaworcathletic or by following the Athletics NDA YouTube Channel. I hope you will be able to cheer for both teams virtually!

Similarly, in lieu of the ability to perform on stage on campus, Mrs. Lian is directing two virtual plays. All auditions, rehearsals, and performances are being held remotely. Although we cannot present to an in- person audience, the students continue to have the experiences of rehearsing, collaborating, and performing. These events will be live-streamed, so the students have the opportunity to perform live for a virtual audience. The one-act play, Pets in Quarantine will be performed on January 21st and 22nd at 7:30 pm. A full-length play, The Importance of Being Earnest in a Pandemic will be performed on January 28th and 29th at 7:30 pm. I am looking forward to both performances! For more information and tickets please visit the Winter Production page of the NDA Website.

I am also so excited about the upcoming fundraising event, “A Rebel With A Cause” on February 6, 2021. The Pre-show will begin at 5:30 PM EST and the Event will start at 6:00 PM EST. Tickets will be on sale soon and will be $20/$50/$100. Students will be asked to help sell tickets and we will be announcing great incentives for those who do so - stay tuned!

From the comfort of your own homes, I hope you will join Emmy-Award Winning Emcee Dani Davis '84 and the Notre Dame Academy community for the online virtual event of the year! I am pleased to announce this year's event honorees for their contributions to our school and our community.


Knollwood Award Honorees
Moira Moynihan-Manoog '86
Tammy Ragsdale Pozerycki '88
Victoria Waterman

Society of the Arts Inductees
Timmary Leary '89
Julia Noone '07
Tara Reddy Young '92

Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees
Katherine Mulford Phillips '01
Elizabeth Andreoli Smiley '82

Honoring the NDA Legacy of
Patricia Provost, Co-Athletic Director


Anyone wishing to donate auction items (gift certificates, experiences, vacation home weeks, autographed items, etc.) should contact Colleen Sullivan directly at In addition, Sponsorship opportunities are still available. February 6th will be a very special evening as we honor these incredible women, celebrate Notre Dame Academy's traditions and aspirations for the future, and raise funds to support the financial aid needs of our student population.

I hope all of the NDA community stays safe and healthy over the next few weeks. I look forward to being back on campus with our faculty and students soon!


Warmest regards,


Lisa Mancini ‘88 P‘18
Head of School
Notre Dame Academy

Return to School Announcement
Special Edition - A View from My Home Office

Dear NDA Family,

Today is January 6th. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 20,732,404 total cases and 352,464 total deaths resulting from COVID-19 in the US, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 84,780,171 total cases and 1,853,525 total deaths around the world.

As I sit at the desk in my home office, I am consumed with thoughts around the advantages and disadvantages with regard to our plan to return to school next Monday; I watch and read the constant news about the impending spike in COVID cases, our community hospitals’ capacity, and the new COVID-19 variants that are circulating globally that some scientists say are more transmissible in younger people; and as I sip my cup of tea, I have determined that we need to alter our plan.

I continue to be so proud of the NDA community and our ability to be on campus for so long while so many other schools were not able. By doing so, we were able to forge relationships in the classroom and ensure our synchronous learning methods and tools were solid. I also feel hopeful that we will be back on campus again soon. However, the one guiding principle for making decisions has been the safety of our students, faculty, and staff.

Given the current data and recommendations from senior public health officials, I believe that extending our remote learning is the best choice for the NDA community. Dr. Michael P. Hirsh, the city's medical director, recently said, “advocates for a return to in-person learning have cited studies that show no evidence of major transmission issues with the virus. But with the level of community spread going on right now in the city, it's hard to imagine that a return to in-person schooling wouldn't result in higher virus numbers.”

After much consideration and discussion with colleagues at other independent schools, NDA will remain in a virtual learning environment for an additional two weeks and will return on campus on Monday, January 25, 2021. In doing so, I am hopeful that the Christmas/New Year’s spike will have passed, and vaccinations will have increased, making it safer for our community to return to the NDA campus.


With hopefulness in my heart,
Lisa Mancini ‘88 P‘18
Head of School
Notre Dame Academy


Dear NDA Family,

Today is December 30th. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 19,232,843 total cases and 334,029 total deaths resulting from COVID-19 in the US, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 80,155,187 total cases and 1,771,128 total deaths around the world. The biggest vaccination campaign in history has begun. According to the researchers at Our World in Data, more than 4.68 million doses in 16 countries worldwide have been administered. The US alone has administered 2.13 million. is now publishing a weekly report that features information on COVID-19 vaccine supply distribution, administration, and other data for Massachusetts. As of December 24, there have been 35,618 total cumulative doses administered, beginning with healthcare workers and long-term care residents.

As I sit at the desk in my home office, I think back to the Christmas holiday which was non-traditional for many of us; I prepare to take down our Christmas decorations and tree adorned with ornaments, each one symbolic of a special memory; I look at all of Mia and Bianca’s new toys strewn across the floor with enjoyment; I admire one of my most favorite flowers, the gorgeous vivid red amaryllis in full bloom; and as I sip my cup of tea, I reflect on the joys and challenges of 2020 and await 2021 with perspective and hope.

Though Christmas 2020 was non-traditional and like no other, I also found great joy in re-imagining the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Though I missed the company and laughter of the 40+ extended family members who traditionally gather at my home, this year’s small dinner with only those in my “COVID bubble” brought me so much joy. Christmas should be a time of spiritual reflection on the important foundations of the Christian faith. Too often, the preparations, the decorations, the stress of finding the “perfect” gifts, and other secular traditions obscure the true meaning. For me, Christmas 2020 was a wonderful opportunity to challenge traditions, gain clarity, and be intentional about how to calm the Christmas chaos and truly enjoy the special day.

This year, my family opted for a Christmas mantra - a word that described what we wanted to emulate during the festive period. We chose the word “sparkle.” The word sparkle embodies love, happiness, beauty, and gratitude. It was important to us that we focused on those as this year was also the first Christmas since my father’s passing on December 27, 2019. It was important that we celebrated the qualities that made him so special; he always sparkled. We also focused on the beauty of the blooming amaryllis, which has been a favorite flower of mine for a very long time. This year, the meaning of the amaryllis - commonly associated with strength, determination, beauty, and love - was extra special as I realized that Amaryllis is a Greek female name that means “to sparkle.” I empathize with those who have learned to balance the positive spirit of the holiday season with the feelings of loss and grief, no matter how much time has passed.

December 27th was also a very special day this year as we celebrated the 80th birthday of Sr. Ann Morrison. Sr. Ann has dedicated half of her life to serving the students at Notre Dame Academy. She has always been focused on preparing the school and its students for the future. Through her tenure as Principal, NDA saw updates to the athletic center, the Gage House, the arts wing, and more. Throughout her 80th year, we will celebrate her birthday and her legacy to NDA. A gift in honor of Sr. Ann is a great way to show her the importance of the impact she had on so many high school students. NDA has shared a tribute video on our social media channels on her birthday. Join us in celebrating Sr. Ann Morrison with a gift in her honor today. With only two days left to 2020, the CARES Act, passed by Congress, provides a new tax incentive for charitable giving. Even without itemizing your income tax deductions, you can reduce your taxable income by up to $300 when you make a gift of cash, credit card, or check to Notre Dame Academy.

We are also looking forward to a major NDA virtual event, “A Rebel With A Cause” on February 6, 2021. This event will celebrate Notre Dame Academy's traditions and aspirations for the future while raising funds to support the financial aid needs of our student population. In addition to celebrating our Knollwood, Society of the Arts, and Athletics Hall of Fame Award recipients, we will also be celebrating the retirement of our long-time athletic director, Patricia Provost, who will be departing after 45 years building our athletics program. Sponsorship opportunities are available now, with individual ticket information coming after the new year. I look forward to sharing more information and details about this exciting evening in the coming weeks.

I am also excited to be back on campus with our faculty and students on January 11th. I hope our students and their families enjoy the last few days of break and stay safe during our first week back to classes while we remain in a virtual learning environment to start the new year.

Whatever the new year has in store, the NDA community will remain together. As you raise your glass and fireworks explode into the sky, may you recognize the special symbolism that this New Year brings. Wishing you unconditional love, wonderful memories, new hope, and the zest offered to live fully. May God bless your family with prosperity, good health, hope, and happiness in the New Year.


Cheers to sparkles in the New Year!


Lisa Mancini ‘88 P‘18
Head of School
Notre Dame Academy


A Message from the Head of School: A View from My Home Office

Dear NDA Family,

Today is December 16th. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 16,317,892 total cases and 300,032 total deaths resulting from COVID-19 in the US, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 71,919,725 total cases and 1,623,064 total deaths around the world. Officials with Operation Warp Speed confirmed Wednesday that they remain on track in their goal to distribute 20 million initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the month.

As I sit at the desk in my home office, I think about the heavy snow accumulation of 11-15 inches expected tonight and tomorrow morning; I gather Mia and Bianca’s snowsuits, so they are ready for some outside fun; I enjoy the beautiful Christmas flowers given to me by a colleague; and as I sip my cup of tea, I look forward to the upcoming holiday break to spend time with my immediate family.

This year has brought so many challenges to each of us - personally and professionally. I would be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling stressed and tired. There is Zoom fatigue, missing the physical connection with friends and family, prolonged lack of normal routines. And when everyone is experiencing the same sense of uncertainty, we lose our ‘anchors’ who typically help to manage some of the stress. So many of our regular coping mechanisms are depleted. The upcoming holiday season, as different as it may be, should provide a restful period where we can acknowledge the challenges and successes of the past year and dream of the days post-pandemic when wearing masks is not the daily norm.

Traditional holiday celebrations – with everyone giving hugs with their “hellos”, enjoying appetizers from shared plates, kissing under the mistletoe, and crowding around the TV to watch the game before dinner – are not happening this year. However, if there is anything we have learned from this year, it is how to adapt. I am confident that we will all still have meaningful celebrations with modifications to our traditional plans - making them even more special and memorable. The recognition and importance of honoring precaution over tradition to keep loved ones safe are paramount this holiday season.

At NDA, we also hope that the extra precautions we are taking with the interim move to remote learning will continue to keep our community healthy and safe. I am confident that we are serving our students and faculty well with the decision to remain virtual until January 11th. Of course, we will continue to adjust our sails as necessary throughout the school year. I know that, like me, many parents and students are looking forward to NDA being back on campus.

In closing, for all the inquiring minds, though I am gathering Mia and Bianca’s snowsuits, I do want to share that it is very unlikely that a traditional snow day will be called tomorrow. Given that it is our last day prior to the holiday break, many students (yes, you read that right!) have asked that we try to have a normal remote day tomorrow so that they can wrap-up assignments and not have them lingering over their heads over the break. In addition, though in a different format, tomorrow is our traditional Kris Kringle Day, and we want to have the opportunity for everyone to participate in the event that has been planned and wish each other a Merry Christmas over Zoom.

I wish you all the light of the brightest Christmas star, the warmth of a cozy home, the cheer and goodwill of close friends, the hope of a young child, the joy of a thousand angels, and the love of the Son of God. The Notre Dame Academy community is blessed to be surrounded by love this Christmas season.

Wishing you holidays full of peace, joy, and happiness which only the true meaning of Christmas brings,


Lisa Mancini ‘88 P‘18
Head of School
Notre Dame Academy

A Message from the Head of School: A View from My Home Office

Dear NDA Family,

Today is December 2nd. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 13,447,627 total cases and 267,302 total deaths resulting from COVID-19 in the US, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 63,144,362 total cases and 1,469,237 total deaths around the world. Multiple vaccines are in the final phases of testing, as the companies developing them race to be the first approved available to the public.

As I sit at the desk in my home office, I enjoy the unseasonal warmth and sunshine coming through my windows with Mia and Bianca cuddling at my side and looking at me lovingly, excited to have me home once again; I appreciate the Christmas decorations around my home which signal the entrance of a joyous season; and as I sip my cup of tea, I feel confident about the difficult decision we just made for NDA to stay in a virtual learning environment through Monday, January 11th.

I am grateful that I was able to spend 5 days in a log cabin deep in the woods of New York over the Thanksgiving break. It was a wonderful place to catch up on reading, enjoy nature, relax, and re-charge. It was also the perfect place to reflect on all that I am thankful for. From a professional standpoint, I am certainly extremely grateful for our NDA community. I recognize the blessing NDA had in having 12 successful weeks on campus while so many other schools were unable to start the school year, building new student-teacher relationships, in person. During that time, we have been carefully watching the environment as it relates to COVID. Given the continued rise in COVID cases in our geographic community, we have determined that NDA will extend our initial remote plan around the holidays by nine additional days. I truly appreciate the support and accolades from parents, especially those who have been pleased with NDA’s decision to remain on campus. Yet, safety has been the driving force for every decision that we have made, and we are confident that, at this time, this is the best decision to ensure continued safety for our students, their families, and our faculty and staff.

Yesterday NDA held our first day of virtual Parent-Teacher Conferences. Parents were able to schedule Zoom appointments with their daughter’s teachers from 8:00 am through 7:30 pm. Though a few parents missed the traditional afternoon and evening in- person meetings with teachers, mainly due to the opportunity for an extra date night, all were very complimentary and pleased that NDA was able to replace the regular format with a new format that still allowed them to talk with teachers. In fact, many suggested that the new format remains in the future. This learning was another example of how COVID is forcing us to think differently about many things - and in some cases, the new ways are better than the old!

One thing that has not changed is the need to meet our goal for the NDA Annual Fund. Especially with this year’s Pay it Forward Challenge Match of $100,000 from an anonymous donor, we have an opportunity to ensure that our scholarships are funded and that many more generations of young women can continue to benefit from an NDA education. Please consider a gift to the Notre Dame Academy Annual Fund and be part of meeting this important goal. New this year under the CARES Act, part of the federal government's pandemic relief program that passed in March, individual taxpayers can take a deduction of up to $300 for cash donations made in 2020 when they file their tax return in the spring. I thank you in advance for your 2020 donation to NDA!

Though Notre Dame Academy students, faculty, and staff will remain remote for the next five weeks, our daily schedule will remain the same. All classes will be held synchronously, five days a week. Over the next five weeks, we will also enjoy many celebrations of the season together. I look forward to advent prayers, parent get-togethers, faculty and staff ugly sweaters, Kris Kringle celebrations, and holiday concerts!


With my continued appreciation,
Lisa Mancini ‘88 P‘18
Head of School