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For Academy at Charlemont’s Bloomfield, school starts now

Brian Bloomfield  is the new Head of School at the Academy at Charlemont.  Recorder/Paul Franz

Brian Bloomfield is the new Head of School at the Academy at Charlemont. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

CHARLEMONT — School’s out for students at the Academy at Charlemont, but new Head of School Brian Bloomfield is already planning for the school year ahead.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the students and their families,” said Bloomfield, who visited the school several times last year.

“Every school has something that distinguishes it, and for this school, it’s community. The academy has the most nurturing and supportive community that I’ve ever seen in my life. It feels more like a family than anything I’ve experienced before.

“I’m really looking forward to integrating into it.”

Before starting this month, Bloomfield was head of school and chief academic and financial advisor for Nova Classical Academy, a K-through-Grade 12 classical education charter school in St. Paul, Minn. During his six years there, according to his resume, the enrollment grew from about 400 students to 850. From 2002 to 2008, he taught at, and was coordinator of, the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Md.

The Academy at Charlemont is a private college preparatory day school that serves about 100 students in Grades 7 to 12. Almost 58 percent of them are from Franklin County towns.

Besides his administrative duties, Bloomfield will be teaching literature and ancient history to academy students.

Bloomfield said one of his goals this year will be to create more school-town connections between the Academy’s students and Charlemont. “Next year, Charlemont will be celebrating its 250th anniversary and the Academy at Charlemont will be very much involved,” he said.

He said the school will be involved with next summer’s annual Yankee Doodle Days, and is talking about building a float for the town’s parade. Students spend a collective 2,000 hours per year on community service, according to the school’s website. Bloomfield said community service is an important part of the curriculum, and this year’s focus will be on Charlemont.

“Their celebration of success is also ours,” he said. “I hope they’re proud of us being here.”

Bloomfield said the academy will be expanding its science program, revamping its environmental science program by adding river ecology and “integrating technology into the study.” Bloomfield wants to use the nearby Deerfield River as part of the river ecology studies, and to form partnerships with Zoar Outdoor and Berkshire East.

“We’re trying to look at where we are, as not only a challenge but as an advantage,” said Bloomfield. “This location brings unique opportunities that we don’t have at other schools.”

He noted that the athletics program has grown steadily over the last four years, and that “every student plays.”

Two years ago, the academy expanded efforts to attract more students from the Northampton-Amherst area, and it now has a bus that transports Hampshire County students to Charlemont. This year, the academy hopes to expand its recruitment efforts into Berkshire County and into the Brattleboro, Vt., area. “We’re looking for families that want the kind of education we provide,” he said.

When asked if the school is planning to increase its enrollment, Bloomfield said the goal isn’t to expand the student count dramatically, but to broaden the student base. He said the academy can accommodate about 120 students.

Board of trustees Chairman David Epstein said Bloomfield’s intellectual depth, calm presence, “his immediate understanding of the school, his commitment to classical education and his great rapport with students” was inspiring to the trustees, who had received 75 applicants for the position.

“We all look forward to welcoming Brian into our community,” said Epstein.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

(Editor's note: Some information in this story has changed from an earlier edition.)

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