Each year, the Burch Ford Kaleidoscope Award recognizes three professionals from the over 400 boarding schools nationwide, who have exemplified commitment, creativity and excellence in the area of Student and Residential Life.
Amanda Correa has been a member of the TJ community for nearly ten years. In her time at our school, she has empowered students, created novel programs, and has become a beloved leader within our community. As an advocate for all of our students, she develops meaningful relationships with students and staff. She humbly makes changes that are well ahead of their time, being driven by always doing what is best for students.
In 2016, Amanda pioneered our gender-inclusive housing initiative. Listening to students, she presented to the board of trustees an idea to convert one of our dorms into space where students of any gender identity could, with parents’ permission, live more authentically as themselves. Starting as a pilot program, we have continued gender-inclusive housing through today with no issues or pushback. From our knowledge, we were one of the first schools to pioneer this program. Since then, we have been a resource to a number of TABS schools who are interested in developing a similar program. The number of students who have positively benefited from this program goes well beyond the walls here at TJ.
As an example of creating ways for students to become leaders, she created a “Boarding Council” made up of student leaders who are charged with creating programming, modeling community engagement, and monitoring student wellbeing. To say this has become a respected position is an understatement. The president is voted on by peers and often reports to the board of trustees. This group is squarely responsible for the joy that is felt on campus.
Amanda also worked to further develop our Resident Advisory (RA) system, where graduate students of local universities in Schools of Social Work live on campus and provide much of the residential evening supervision. The intent of the program is that RAs would be at our school for one to three years while they complete their graduate work and are mentored by Amanda. Tellingly, two RAs who have stayed for six and seven years, respectively. Additionally, another current RA who has come back to campus after a year away. This speaks to the professional and fun environment Amanda has created on campus, one which people want to remain working in.
These are only a few examples, and don’t speak to her teaching, organization, and communication skills. We are a better school and community because of Amanda’s leadership. Students are incredibly well supported both in and out of the classroom. Staff are comforted knowing that Amanda is in her role. Parents know they will receive appropriate and timely communication, but can reach out at any time. In short, her impact will last a long time.