People are the lifeblood of The Governor’s Academy experience, and we are known for our family-like atmosphere that cultivates lifelong relationships. Dedicated faculty members mentor students in all areas of school life: academic, arts, athletics, service, and residential community. Students thrive under their guidance as they take risks, try new things with no certainty they will succeed, and solve problems for which there are no easy solutions. All of these actions take courage.
In 1988, 16 years after the Academy became co-educational, Lynda Fitzgerald was named dean of students—the Academy’s first female administrator. This was a watershed moment for the Academy and one that required more than a little courage on Fitzgerald’s part. “It was challenging—the room was always full of men,” she recalls. Fitzgerald became a trailblazer, paving the way for other women to take on leadership roles. “It’s wonderful that the administration has so many strong women now,” says Fitzgerald, who went on to become dean of faculty in 2008.
But the hallmark of Fitzgerald’s 30-plus year career at the Academy is her work with, and care for, students. As dean of students, she influenced countless young people as a mentor, teacher, and surrogate parent. She also stepped up as the Academy’s first girls’ ice hockey coach, a sport she had never played before. “The girls wanted to play, and they needed a coach,” she explains simply.
This “students first” philosophy leads former students, advisees, and dorm residents to identify Fitzgerald as the poster child of an engaged faculty member. For this reason, she offers a tangible example for why faculty support figures so prominently in the campaign. Even today, as dean of faculty, she is a dorm parent in a freshmen boys’ dorm, teaches one section of English, and leads a yoga class in the afternoon program. According to Fitzgerald, this is all in a day’s work: “I try to walk the talk, showing the importance of participating fully in the community.”
Paul Nardone ’86, P’19
“Gov’s was a life-changing experience for me,” explains Revere native Paul Nardone, who came to Governor’s thanks to financial aid. He remembers the challenging environment that stretched him and inspired him to try new things. Everywhere he turned, he recalls, he was encouraged to take risks. And taking those risks built Nardone’s confidence.
“I never saw myself in a music class, playing football, or participating in student government, but because of Gov’s, I had the courage to try all three,” he recalls.
Nardone’s moment of courage came when he took a chance and ran for student body president. He won, developing leadership experience that made all the difference for him in college and beyond. After Governor’s, he continued his education at Tufts University, where he had the confidence to launch a snack company. Nardone later earned an MBA at Columbia and went on to lead a number of successful food and beverage companies.
Years later, Nardone had the opportunity to come back to the Academy as a volunteer basketball coach. “When I returned, I saw how outdated our gym was compared to other ISL schools,” he says. So he decided to do something about it, making a significant gift to renovate Alumni Gym and urging others to do the same.
“Now, I’m thrilled that Governor’s has the best gym in the league; it could have never happened without the generous support of others,” he concludes. “It truly is a gift to give back. I feel fortunate to be in a position to help the next generation of Governor’s students experience the true meaning of Governor’s motto Non Sibi Sed Aliis . . . not for self, but for others.”
Gaele Henry ’18
How far would you travel for a transformative education? For Gaele Henry, the answer was a long way: 1,486 miles—the distance between her home in Immokalee, Florida, and The Governor’s Academy. “It was the pure desire to do something different for myself,” she explains. And so at age 14, she set off and left her small town, a journey that took courage. As eager as she was for the change, however, there were challenges. “I had culture shock when I first moved here,” she remembers. “I met all these people—students and faculty—and I thought, ‘Wow, I don’t think I have that much in common with them.’
“Living together at school, though, I found out that we actually had a great deal in common. I have developed friendships with schoolmates from Asia, South Africa, Germany, and Mexico. If I hadn’t come to Gov’s, I never would have had the opportunity to learn with and from them.” It’s also a different dynamic for her living side-by-side with the faculty. “You see them outside class and really get to know them and their families. I’d never imagined anything like this before, and it’s one of the things I love most about Gov’s.”
Along with building new relationships, the Academy’s supportive environment has allowed Henry to try new things. “I really challenged myself and took AP World History as a sophomore,” she says, “and I’ve loved playing sports here, particularly basketball. But I also took a chance and tried out drama. It was an amazing learning experience for me; I’ll definitely do something like that again.” Gaele’s experiences wouldn’t be possible without support from The Governor’s Fund. It is the one campaign objective that offers the most immediate and tangible benefit for all Gov’s students. Gaele’s Gov’s experience would simply not be the same without it.