Head of School at Fusion Academy Greenwich, Margaret “Maggie” Roche recently shared her enthusiastic anticipation of a second summer on Dolphin Cove.
Ms. Roche, who worked at Fusion Academy for four years at the Park Avenue, NYC campus and later at the Westchester campus, came to Greenwich as the Master Teacher.
She recently became Assistant Director before moving up to Head of School when Jennifer Walsh-Rurak was elevated to Regional Area Manager, overseeing the Woodbury campus in Long Island, Fusion Westchester, Fusion Fairfield and Fusion Academy Greenwich.
Fusion Academy Greenwich, which opened in 2016, immediately pulled some students who were commuting to their Westchester campus.
Located just over the town line, on the water in Stamford at 66 Gatehouse Road, the campus is accessible to Greenwich residents without having to get on I-95.
What makes Fusion Academy unique is its one-on-one model where students typically spend three hours of class paired with a single instructor, and three hours of supervised homework time, with a choice of venues between the “silent homework café” and the “social homework café.”
At the end of the day, students head home or to a sport or activity without the burden of homework. Another appeal of the unique model is that it affords students a flexible start time. Classes are offered year round, students can begin studying at any time during the calendar year.
“My background is in humanities and the arts,” Ms. Roche said. “I started out teaching English, history and languages including Italian and Spanish.”
Roche said she still does teach, though she’s not really supposed to.
“It gives me a pulse on the culture and our systems,” she said. Specifically, it gives her a chance to be familiar with systems like the blackboard used at Fusion Academy called “brain honey,” a system called “Genius,” which is a means of communicating with parents after any of their child’s session.
“It’s important for me to teach because it gives me opportunities to work on cross-curriculum projects with other teachers, and even have an active voice within the department,” she said.
The school’s humanities department has six English/history teachers and four art/music/language teachers.
Ms. Roche said her job as head of school is to come up with creative core suggestions for students, and summer time is ideal for unique cross-curriculum projects.
“If a parent says, ‘My son is struggling with English, but he doesn’t want to do classic English Literature,’ we might set him up with sports broadcasting and journalism where he is taking something he really likes – he’s writing and then recording and editing.”
“Another example is a student writing a graphic novel and illustrating it too,” Roche said, adding that, in that case the student works closely with both his English and Art teachers.
“A lot of the pressures of a traditional school are removed here,” Roche said. “When you work one-on-one, students really thrive.”
“That carries throughout the year too,” she said, giving an example of a student who wrote a 25 page screen play on The Battle of Midway. “We make it so you can take seemingly different subjects and streamline them. And they are creating without the pressure of assessments,” Roche explained.
Another example of a recent cross curriculum project involved a student working on writing for an audience while acquiring math skills. The student gathered data for different football players to learn mean, medium and mode. The student put the data into Excel spreadsheets, and then placed that information back into his writing.
“This is life skills in 8th grade,” Roche said.
Fusion Academy Greenwich has grown exponentially since it opened two years ago with five students. Today enrollment is up to 35.
Summer on the Water at Fusion Greenwich: Enrichment or For Credit
“Students can take any of our courses for credit in the summer or re-take a course for a higher grade,” Roche said, adding that popular courses take place in the recording studio, art studio or science lab.
The school offers tutoring and mentoring. Students can take a subject for credit and transfer it back to their school.
The summer options are very much “à la carte,” and a teacher can very quickly assess a student’s need, so they’re not repeating material a student has already mastered. Instead they can spend time in the areas where there are gaps.
“Over the summer, or any time with our full time students, we’re creating our own assessments and we have the ability to have so much fun,” Roche said. “We can dig deep into each student’s passions and unlock them.”
Fusion Academy Greenwich is offering trial week packages for new students beginning in the last two weeks of June and July. Slots are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Fusion Academy Greenwich is located at 66 Gatehouse Road in Stamford.