Update from Head of School, Betsy Fanning

To all of our Trident Academy Family:

It is hard to believe that the first half of our school year is nearly done! With the holidays rapidly approaching, our first semester is also coming to an end. And what a glorious semester it has been! We have spent over 60 class periods in each subject, including LEAD where the heart of our Orton-Gillingham instruction occurs. Students have learned so many things: from addition to geometry, from short vowel sounds to syllabication to morphology, from natural habitats to the scientific method, and from land forms to government! I am looking forward to seeing our middle school student’s creativity expressed through ACEs (Academic Culminating Examination) in just a couple of weeks. I know our students are looking forward to relaxing and rejuvenating throughout the holidays.

During this semester two beloved members of the Trident Academy family have moved on to new adventures this fall: Judy Fell and Niki Leiva

Judy Fell landed at Trident Academy in 1999 as a 4th grade teacher. One of my fondest memories is being invited to a “campfire” story telling in her classroom. Her students had written ghost stories and were reading them in front of a makeshift campfire. There were stars overhead and you could almost smell the smoke wafting through the room. It is easy to see why Mrs. Fell soon became a beloved member of our faculty. She moved her expertise into our LEAD department several years later. Mrs. Fell’s teaching career started in Columbia, SC, in the second grade in 1966! She earned her MA in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Carolina in 1973, and became a reading specialist shortly thereafter. After nearly 50 years, Mrs. Fell has decided to retire! She and her husband, Bob, are moving to Bluffton to be closer to their grandchildren. Mrs. Fell has been an integral part of the Trident Academy fabric for 16 years and will be sorely missed. We wish the Fells nothing but the very best!

Niki Leiva arrived at Trident Academy full of energy and enthusiasm 3 short years ago. She has done a remarkable job helping to market, brand, and build the school. Through her efforts Trident Academy has been poised to grow and prosper. Many of our current students met her in the admission process, their first encounter with our school. Her care and nurturing spirit helped to ease many nervous students and parents, as well. She and her husband, Guillermo are embarking on a grand adventure! Guillermo’s job is taking them to Italy for several years. While we will miss her terribly, we are excited for this new phase in their lives. Arrivederci!

With our vibrant and caring faculty focusing all of their energies on the nurturing and growth of our students, progress is being made in a myriad of areas! It is a testament to our faculty and our school’s success over the decades that we have had so many families move to the area and enrolling their children in our program. As our recent parent conferences have demonstrated, we are working together for the betterment of every single student, and we will continue to search for ways to unlock their untapped potential. We have found that our parents, both current and past, are our best ambassadors in the community, because they can attest first-hand as to the value of our school. We have had an enormous impact in shaping the lives of children with learning differences over the years and look forward to helping shape many more.

In doing our utmost for students such as ours, it has been enlightening and rewarding to renew collaborative efforts with schools of similar populations such as Sandhills School in Columbia (Anne Vickers, Head of School) and Camperdown Academy in Greenville (Dan Blanch, Head of School). Pooling our knowledge and resources to identify trends and opportunities for growth, we are stronger as a unit than we are apart. We plan to explore more opportunities to work and act collaboratively as the years progress.

I am deeply gratified to say that we continue to have strong tuition assistance from Palmetto Kids First as part of the Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children proviso begun in our state three years ago. Thus far this year, our Trident Academy Family has received 29 grants for a total of $290,000 in tuition assistance, helping our parents secure for their children a real chance to overcome their learning differences and face a brighter future, accomplishing their educational goals.

We appreciate all of the support we continue to receive from our greater Trident Academy Family. Without your advocacy, your volunteerism, and your financial support, we would not be able to serve the students in our charge and further our mission in this community. Thank you for all that you do for us.

Wishing all of you the safest and best of holidays,

Betsy A. Fanning

Betsy A. Fanning
Head of School

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