Dear Mrs. Stetser...

How do we say thank you to a woman who so effortlessly gave so much of herself to Waldron Mercy Academy? How do we say thank you for the years of service, leadership and dedication? How do we say thank you for all of the guidance, all of the mercy, all of the love?

It seems like an impossible task, to truly show gratitude to Nell Stetser for her 27 years of steadfast service. Beginning her tenure at Waldron Mercy as a fourth grade teacher before moving to curriculum director, second grade teacher, back to curriculum director, vice principal, for the past five years, principal and in between a parent of WMA students, Nell has never wavered in her dedication to the mission of Mercy.

 

For Your Hard Work

Anyone who has worked with, learned from or simply interacted Nell knows how much she exudes compassion for others, as well as her passion for teaching. Whether she is stopping in the hall to speak with a parent, leading a teacher in-service day or teaching her seventh and eighth grade students to conjugate Latin verbs, Nell is a master at multi-tasking. She has guided Waldron Mercy Academy through transitions and worked on countless Middle States Accreditations, two National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence awards and a Program of Distinction in Service Learning. When Nell assumed the role of curriculum director in 1998, the first ever at Waldron Mercy, she set into motion the curriculum mapping and development, writing across the curriculum, professional development with teachers teaching teachers and the sharing of best practices, and finally the increased utilization of the student resources center. All of these truly setting up WMA students for success, empowering them to be the best they can be.

In a letter to the Waldron Mercy Academy community, Kimberly Baxter, chairperson of the Board of Trustees, reflected on many of Nell’s accomplishments. “Under Nell’s leadership, the school has experienced many changes and sources of great pride. We truly believe that Nell was the leader that we needed to transition the institution and its community from religious to lay leadership. During her tenure, Nell worked to restructure the school to better assist the needs of our students through the creation of the positions of directors of the lower and middle school. Additionally, the hiring of key administrators to better serve the advancement, communications and marketing needs of the school, including the developing and implementation of a new school website, have benefited the school and its enrollment goals. In the areas of academics, the school has seen the progress and implementation of a Middle States goal to create a STEM curriculum for grades 1 through 8. She has also executed a new reading program to better individualize the instruction for students at different levels of learning, along with a new Spanish curriculum for grades kindergarten through 8. Furthermore, Nell and her administrative team have designed and employed a new system for teacher observation and evaluation as well as improving the efforts to increase the pool of candidates for more diverse hires within the school.”

For the Memories

Even though Nell Stetser will not physically be present at WMA next year, her impact will continue to be felt and the fun times shared with her are everlasting memories. Some of the students shared their favorite Mrs. Stetser memories throughout the years and provided some words of advice. Sahmir Hagans ‘17 remembers first coming to Waldron Mercy Academy, “When I first got here, it was hard to adjust. Mrs. Stetser was one of the teachers that really helped me get used to the school. She makes sure that every kid is comfortable.” Franco Leuzzi ‘18 remembers reading The Polar Express and having cookies with Mrs. Stetser around Christmas time. “She’s always happy and makes learning Latin fun.” Mary O’Connor, a pre-kindergarten student this year, loved when Mrs. Stetser came to read to her class at the end of the day. Anthony Gibson, grade three, gave some very thoughtful advice: “Whenever you’re out of your familiar surroundings, never give up because you’re never alone.

 

Thank you Nell Stetser.

 

For Your Spirit of Mercy

Each year, the faculty and staff choose one of their own and award to them the Spirit of Mercy award. While mercy is ever-present in the halls of the school, this individual is typically someone who goes above and beyond. On a Sunday afternoon this past May at a farewell tribute gathering for Nell, in front of faculty and staff, current parents, former parents, friends and family, Kimberly Baxter announced that from this year forward the Board of Trustees has aptly renamed the award the Nell Stetser Spirit of Mercy award in honor of such a great and merciful woman and leader. At the end of year luncheon for faculty and staff, last year’s honoree, Miss Mary Augustine, passed the award onto Nell - and there was not a dry eye in the room!

This year’s eighth grade class decided that the theme of the yearbook would be superheroes, full of “pows,” “bams” and a Principal Stetser-Wonder Woman bitmoji. Their yearbook theme very nicely summarizes the tenure of Nell Stetser at WMA. It is truly unbelievable that Nell is anything less than super-human to have accomplished all that she has in a very short 27 years. While it may seem difficult  to find the right words to say thank you, Adam Dickman, athletic director, was able to do so at this year’s sports banquet: “Nell Stetser – for your devotion to Waldron Mercy Academy as a school. You have been a great principal, a teacher, a friend, a disciplinarian, a cheerleader, a mentor, a leader and an inspiration…not just to the students but to every member of the Waldron Mercy community. We thank you for your years of service.”

 

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