The first few weeks of the new school year have been a whirlwind for Pat Hawkridge, but she’s looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead as she gets settled in as Atlantis’s new Career Academy Director.
This is the first time Atlantis has had a full-time Academy director. In this role, Hawkridge will oversee all aspects of the Career Academies, from the hiring of adjunct instructors and the recruitment of new students, to the curriculum taught in the five Academies and the arranging of senior internships. To do this, she will work closely with the adjuncts and the entire 7-12 team, the students and their families, and community and business leaders.
“I am excited to hit the ground running,” Hawkridge said. “I will do everything in my power to make sure our students graduate with the skills and experience needed to fill in-demand jobs in our community. It’s a big job, but I have a fantastic staff to support me in my efforts. We are fortunate to have a team of incredibly talented adjuncts who are experts in their fields, and the support I am getting from the administration is incredible.”
“Having someone with the skills and experience that Pat has is critical as we continue to develop and grow our Career Academies,” said Michael Lauro, Associate Executive Director of Atlantis Charter School. “Pat shares our vision for the Career Academies, and we are fortunate to have her in this role. We know that with her at the helm, we can better guide our students as they create their own pathways to college and career.”
Hawkridge brings a combination of administrative and teaching experience to the role. She was chair of the Theatre Arts Department at Salve Regina for 10 years, and she was Dean of Arts at two performing arts high schools before joining Atlantis two years ago. She also taught theater and speech classes at several colleges and universities, most recently Providence College where she received the 2019 Teaching Excellence by Adjunct Faculty Award. She holds a Master in Fine Arts from George Washington University. In addition, she worked as an actor and director with several organizations including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Most mornings, you’ll find Hawkridge at her desk, making phone calls, answering emails, and getting set up for the day. But once the Academy classes start, she is right there in the classroom with the students.
“I feel it’s important to have a presence in the classroom. If students are going to talk to me about their career goals, they have to know me and trust me. They’re not going to trust me just because I’m the director – that doesn’t mean much. That’s why I’m instituting an open-door policy. We’re preparing students for their future careers, so if they’re not satisfied with their Academy I want them to come and talk to me. I want them to tell me about their plans for the future and how they plan to get there. By maintaining an open line of conversation, we can help students reach their full potential and get a leg up on their career by giving them the most relevant real-world exposure to jobs and industries possible.”
One of Hawkridge’s biggest priorities will be to arrange spring internships for the 58 seniors. Hawkridge plans to spend a lot of time building new relationships within the community because she says she is committed to the internships being worthy of the students’ time and energy. Some past intern placements included BankFive, the Business and Innovation Center, the South Coast Autism Center, and Chase Farm Veterinary Hospital.
Students have to choose their Academy by the end of 10th grade, so Hawkridge will be meeting with the 9th and 10th grade Academy Specialists to find more ways to introduce students to the potential careers that could come from each Academy.
Hawkridge is particularly excited about a change made to the Teacher Development Academy – now known as the Teaching and Social Services Academy.
“A lot of students interested in social work and nonprofits were getting funneled into the Health and Medicine Academy, but that Academy is best suited for students interested in a career in medicine. Students interested in social services need a liberal arts education. In reality it wasn’t the best fit for them. We want to make sure students are in the right place for what they want to learn.”
Dr. Gail Berman, who served as part-time co-director of the Academies last year alongside Hawkridge, is taking the lead on revamping the curriculum for the Teaching and Social Services Academy classes.
This year’s adjunct staff includes:
- Gail Berman – Teaching and Social Services Academy – 11th and 12th grades
- Anthony Comella – Arts, Culture & Design Academy – 11th and 12th grades
- Diane Richard – Health and Medicine Academy – 11th and 12th grades
- Ellie Paris-Miranda –Business & Entrepreneurship Academy – 12th grade
- Warren Powell – Business and Entrepreneurship Academy – 11th grade
- Patrick McMillan – STEM Academy – 11th and 12th grades
“This job is bigger than one person, and I am grateful for all of the support I have received from the administration and staff during this transition,” Hawkridge said. “Together we can position our students for success in college and career.”