August 02, 2018

Summer homecoming

Andover alumni return to give back during Summer Session
by Ananda Kao ’18

Each June, alumni of Phillips Academy opt to come back to campus to work at Andover Summer in some capacity. Most serve as teachers or teaching assistants (TAs), some live in the dorms and serve as house counselors, a handful help coach afternoon activities, and a few of the more recent graduates work as administrative interns. The presence of these PA alumni is a crucial aspect of the program, ensuring that the summer experience provided to the roughly 650 students who join Andover each year from across the globe is a reflection of the very best aspects of Andover’s regular session program.

Allison Rainville ’90, the current ELL coordinator and a former TA

Many of the alumni equate coming back to campus in the summer to a homecoming. The familiar yet new feel of campus at summertime brings many of them back to Andover year after year. Allison Rainville ’90, the current ELL coordinator and a past TA, said, “I’ve always enjoyed this campus and the atmosphere here, and coming back always feels a little like coming home.” Myioshi Williams ’17, a dance coach, house counselor, and TA for the ACE 10 seminar, said, “I wanted to come back to the community that I felt built me as an individual and attempt to give back the greatness that was given to me. I absolutely loved it here and really wanted an excuse to come back for a period of time longer than just a weekend.”

Like Williams, many alumni hope that by coming back and working here, they will be able to give back and continue to enrich the experiences of other students, just as they themselves were enriched by their teachers, house counselors, and classmates. Sterlind Burke ’00, the lead coach for LSI Sports, LSI basketball, and upper school basketball, as well as the Partner Program advisor, said, “I came back to Andover because I love this place. This school gave me so much while I was a student here, and I wanted to come back to try and help lead a new group of future leaders.” Alumni who interact with students in their academic and residential lives serve as mentors, particularly to those Summer Session students who will be joining the Andover community as regular session students in the fall. Phillips Academy alumni, along with regular session faculty members, form the backbone of the ACE 9 and 10 programs, which are designed to support students— particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds—in effectively making the transition into the Phillips Academy community.

I came back to Andover because I love this place. This school gave me so much while I was a student here, and I wanted to come back to try and help lead a new group of future leaders.

Sterlind Burke ’00 Basketball Coach and Partner Program advisor

Sterlind Burke ’00 coaching in Memorial Gym

In addition to the sense of community these alumni come back to be a part of, they return to this familiar campus to meet, teach, and also learn from the unique students at Andover Summer. Bob Briggs ’82, P’11, an administrative assistant for Summer Session, Andover Bread Loaf, and PALS, said, “The kids are really good, the staff to support them are fantastic, everyone’s really dedicated, everyone’s on board focusing on getting the kids what they need and helping out.” Summer faculty members note the similarities between regular session and Summer Session, particularly in the exceptional curiosity and engagement of the students. 

Jon Pedicino ’87, who teaches the courses Introduction to Astronomy and The Solar System and Space Exploration, said, “It is a very diverse group of motivated, talented, and resourceful students who are empowered to challenge their fellow students and teachers alike.... Even though they are younger than my college students, they have consistently asked questions I rarely hear from my older students along with new ones that challenge me to think deeper. I love the challenge and the opportunity to work with these amazing young minds.” Burke added, “Summer Session is like an accelerated version of regular session. It still allows you the time to make connections with people; five weeks is a much shorter amount of time than nine months.”

Although many of the alumni only ever attended Phillips Academy’s regular session, some are, in fact, alumni of Andover Summer as well. Briggs attended Andover Summer and marked it as a turning point in his life. “For me, really the biggest thing was meeting people that were completely different from me.... I was exposed to every different type of ethnic group and background situation—kids from around the country and around the world that I had never been exposed to before,” Briggs shared. “Being here, I got a sense of being independent, I did everything on my own and it was really a transformative experience for me.... I never had any real interest in coming here, but after coming to Summer Session, there was nowhere else I wanted to be.”

Pictured above: Ananda Kao ’18, Sarah Carmichael ’18, Patrick Doheny ’18, and Reuben Philip ’18.

Categories: Alumni

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