Late Summer 2023
Dear Friends of First State Military Academy,
As we get underway with the ’23-’24 school year, let me again thank all of the teachers and staff of First State Military Academy! Despite placing COVID in the rear view mirror, there is little doubt that we all deal with the ongoing impacts of its legacy. I remain convinced that the loss in learning for our cadets, the ongoing pressures of fewer teachers and educational specialists, and the resultant retreat of academic scores, exact a toll on education in Delaware. Clearly, many of our kids have lost academic and, in some cases, emotional ground. Mandated masking and school closures of our recent past contribute to an educational deficit that will take some time to rebuild.
Nevertheless, will not be detered us from our mission! We have refocused our efforts to increase academic excellence and our culture. We have hired a number of new teachers. We have looked anew at our curriculum, how we teach, and the methods by which we present that material. One reason for this focus is our coming charter renewal from the Delaware Department of Education, due on 1 October 2023. But, before I address that, let me take a moment to provide an update on school leadership.
As many are aware, our long serving and founding Commandant announced his retirement from public education in late April 2022 that would be effective by August of that year. The search for a new school leader was soon underway.
During this period of transition, the Board and leadership sought someone who could move our academic performance forward, while remaining true to our culture.
After hiring a new Principal in August of 2022, it became clear that by this past spring, a new direction was needed. After engagement with our teachers and staff, along with communication with some parents, the Board selected Mr. Blair Newman as our Principal. The Board is thankful for his willingness to lead. Given his history with FSMA (from the beginning), he is the right leader to get us through a successful five-year charter renewal, and bolster our academic performance, while maintaining our culture.
As we begin the ninth year of delivering education, we are a beacon for those students and families who seek something different than that which traditional schools offer. Part of this difference is what we call SOC – Summer Orientation Camp.
In early August each year, we have all of our new cadets attend SOC. This is a week-long orientation program held at the school, ORGANIZED AND ADMINISTERED BY OUR VERY YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN - OUR VERY OWN CADETS. They issue uniforms, they give instruction on marching, they teach military decorum such as saluting, they conduct physical training, and they instill the norms and values expected of all cadets. They wear the Marine MARPAT uniform every day, but that is merely the outward symbol of the culture that sets us apart! We have raised the bar on our cadets’ personal conduct as students in high school. Our educational model of combining the discipline and purpose of the Marine JROTC program with project-based learning, creates a culture that promotes respect for one another, and for our teachers. We AFFIRM the values of high expectations, accountability, hard work, and respect for one another. We implement these tenants so that cadets are prepared upon graduation. Given all that we, as a state and nation, have witnessed these past number of years, it is ever more critical that our cadets are ready for what the future may bring.
In closing, First State Military Academy remains focused on delivering our model of education and culture, as best we can. We acknowledge the challenges facing us, but our great teachers and senior leadership will not waiver. We will “stay the course.” Our cadets deserve nothing less!
Thank you again for your support of FSMA. And, if you ever have any questions, do not hesitate in contacting me directly.
C. Scott Kidner