Students arrive for the first day of classes on Aug. 25 at Rocky Mount Academy.
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Students arrive for the first day of classes on Aug. 25 at Rocky Mount Academy.

RMA begins year with new programs, new look

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Aug. 25 marked the beginning of Rocky Mount Academy’s 46th year as an independent school in Rocky Mount and the first day of school for 420 students in Pre-K through 12th grade.

The school welcomed 65 new students this year from five counties including Nash, Edgecombe, Wilson, Halifax and Warren.

“We are thrilled to welcome so many new students and families this year, resulting in our highest enrollment in recent years. At RMA, we are focused on not just being a great school in Rocky Mount, but a world class school of choice for college bound students in our region – one that innovates and models best practices for teaching, learning, and leading,” said Head of School Beth Covolo.

The mission of Rocky Mount Academy is to prepare its students for the challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities they will encounter in life and college. To achieve this mission, class sizes are kept small – on average just 14 per class – and the faculty is highly qualified, passionate about teaching and learning, and involved in continuous professional development. With relatively small class sizes, there is ample time for one-on-one attention, and a lasting bond forms between students, teachers, and parents that remains intact through graduation and beyond.

This year, Lower School curriculum will be enhanced by foreign language instruction beginning in Pre-K.

“Exposure to a foreign language in elementary school promotes creative thinking and flexibility of mind. It sets the stage for students to develop advanced levels of proficiency in one or more languages down the road and enhances overall cognitive development. This is in keeping with our mission at RMA because children involved in foreign language study at an early age experience greater achievement in reading vocabulary and comprehension and ultimately outscore others in both verbal and math areas of standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. Plans are in place to continue to grow our global studies and foreign language programs for all students over the next five years,“ Covolo said.

Music, art, drama and cultural experiences from around the world enhance the global studies program for all grade levels through high school. The Upper School curriculum includes opportunities for international travel as well. RMA students will travel to the Galapagos Islands next June as part of the Global Studies Honors program.

New this year in Middle School science is Lego EV3, a robotics program used internationally from fifth grade through the college level to integrate science, technology, engineering and math as students design robots and use computer programming to activate them. All students in grades six through twelve have school-issued laptops, and the EV3 program is one more way RMA is using its technology to the fullest.

“With the technology that we now have in the hands of the students and in each classroom, students are no longer passive learners. They are active participants in their own learning. The successful implementation of technology through the EDGE program is paving the way for so many other innovations in teaching and learning at RMA that will help students prepare for the college and life that they will experience in tomorrow’s world,” Covolo said.

Upper School students will have their own programs to look forward to. This year, they will experience expanded elective offerings including Sports Medicine, Social Media, and American Culture U.S. 1940-2014. In addition, AP courses taught by talented and highly qualified teachers are available to students in 10th through 12th grade. Successful completion of these courses allows students to enter college with college credit already earned. Since 1971, virtually 100 percent of RMA graduates have gone on to attend college.

Rocky Mount Academy’s facilities and grounds have undergone a transformation in recent years, and this summer saw the continuation of those efforts with resurfaced tennis courts, renovated scoreboards, landscaping, expanded parking and new state of the art classroom furniture and other upgrades.

Covolo is very proud of the campus’ new look.

“Everything we do at RMA is a group effort, and the amazing improvements to our facilities are no exception,” she said. “We thank all of our families and supporters who have helped make the beauty of our campus and facilities reflective of the beauty and inspiration that is experienced each day in our classrooms. That willingness to pitch in and give of whatever time and talent a person has is what makes RMA an extraordinary place to be for our students, our faculty and our families.”