News from the May Dell - February, 2021

Kris Sorrells campus brick building backgroundFrom the Head of School

Dear Friends,

Our spring semester is underway.  The first two weeks were primarily remote, but we began in-person school for day students the week of February 1.  It has been wonderful welcoming all of the day students back to school.

Two weeks ago, we got a chance to hear about the fantastic Jan Term experiences of our students.  Jan Term is an important Salem Academy tradition that sets us apart.  This year, ninth and tenth graders had the opportunity to participate in book discussions, take exploratory classes, and volunteer at an organization of their choice.  Some of their activities included knitting baby hats, picking up trash, working at food pantries, raising funds to help those in need, and making video recordings of books for young children.  A constant theme of being fulfilled by helping others was seen in their daily journals and the stories they shared.

Sophie, Teresa, and Virginia shared a bit about their experiences in these videos:

You can view the full slideshow of the ninth- and tenth-grade community service activities. 

Juniors and Seniors continued Salem’s long-standing tradition of off-campus internships.  These students interned at architectural companies, children’s museums, law firms, non-profits, and more.  Jan Term internships allow our students to try out a career prior to declaring a college major.

Families, friends, and many of our alumnae gave a great deal of time and energy to serve as field advisors.  Many students had incredible experiences, others had a rough start and then found their footing, and a few realized that the dream career they envisioned was different in reality. 

Although I enjoy hearing about the positive experiences, I am also glad to hear students talk about the not-so-great times or that the career field was not what they expected.  I have known more than one person to pursue a career in one area only to find out after a brief time that they needed a change of course.  They often say an internship opportunity like Jan Term would have been beneficial.  

Kris Porazzi Sorrells
Head of School

Dr. Susan Henking

President’s Corner

Over the past weeks of February, I have awoken each day to a note from someone on campus focused on a leader—in celebration of Black History month, I have heard about Bernice Johnson Reagon, Fannie Lou Hamer, Pauli Murray, Jacqueline Woodson, Belle Wheelan, and others. I also have had the chance to get to know Salem alumnae a bit more through Salem Voices, and I have learned from those of you who have reached out with questions and ideas. Your leadership, too, is inspiring.

All of this is honoring history. And, we know it is igniting the future. Those phrases are ours to remind ourselves that celebrating Salem’s 250th means standing in the present, understanding our complex past, and moving forward together. We know that today’s circumstances require change from each of us—and from Salem as an institution.

Over the coming months, some of that change will be institutional shifts that take place in the background—as we work through an understanding, for example, of our data systems and as we continue to work through the challenges that face us during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other changes will be lifted up in coming weeks to remind us of our commitment to changing the world—expressed in our mission statements at Academy and College, as a commitment to create leaders who will make that change.

Beyond that, many of the changes will take place in individual lives—as our students read and reflect. We hope that years from now they will see these days and months as important in shaping who they become. I know that our students shape me—as a leader who learns. Whether it is the Student Government Association reminding me to listen or discussing civil religion with Chaplain Amy Rio’s college class, attending the Academy student government meetings, or meeting with a recent speaker who discussed Black genius with them, our students inspire us all to be better.

As we continue through February, I know we will carry Salem forward into a brighter future.

We are always and ever grateful for your engagement with Salem. It matters—it lifts us up, and it ignites our future.

Susan Henking
Interim President

Salem Academy and College Presidential Search Update

As announced in a letter dated February 10, 2021 from McDara P. Folan, III, Chair, Board of Trustees, the Presidential Search Committee is making good progress toward the selection of the next president of Salem Academy and College.  Storbeck Search, a woman-owned and woman-led executive search firm with success in finding leaders for higher education, health, and independent schools, began work in January with a goal of naming a new president by mid-year.  Storbeck Search has a national reputation based on its integrity, connections, and insight from decades of experience.  The Search Committee will continue to provide regular updates to the Salem Academy and College alumnae and the campus community.  To read the full letter from February 10, visit Salem Academy Presidential Search.

Alumnae Awards Nominations

The Salem Academy Alumnae Awards recognize the outstanding contributions and lasting impacts of our diverse alumnae base.  Given each April during Reunion Weekend, the Salem Academy Alumnae Association highlights the accomplishments of chosen alumnae for three awards: Distinguished Alumnae, Alumna Service, and Young Alumna awards.  Please submit your nominations through this form for a deserving alumna from classes ending in 1 or 6 by March 19, 2021.

Road to Salem 250

The Road to the 250th

Last summer, The Washington Post ran a story about Daniel Smith, an 88-year-old Washingtonian whose father was enslaved.  Slavery ended almost 166 years ago in the United States, but the story of Mr. Smith and others like him show how present the legacy of slavery is.  Many living Americans are only a generation or two removed from slavery.

In the 21st century, we are still coming to grips with the truth of our past and the legacy of racism.  Why? The answer lies in the fact that the victors get to write history. 

After the failure of Reconstruction, Confederate leaders and segregationists wrote the story of the antebellum south.  The myth of the lost cause and the image of a genteel southern culture became the main story in place of the truth of dehumanizing violence.  The myth and the stereotypes were told so well, partially through American entertainment and advertising, that they became the dominant image of Black people across America.  They contributed to the apology for slavery that argues slaves received free food, housing, and medical care.  Of course, these things were not free; they came at the cost of people’s families, a chance at an education, and the right to control their bodies.

For many years, Salem celebrated its current diversity while neglecting its segregated past. In this century, more and more institutions have grappled with the truth of their past connections to and benefits from slavery.  Locally, the Southern Province of the Moravian Church apologized for its participation in slavery in 2006.  College students in 2017 and Academy alumnae in 2020 challenged our community to conduct an honest investigation of the institution’s relationship with slavery and the legacy of racism.  Salem Academy and College’s apology for its use of enslaved labor in 2018, and the creation of The Anna Maria Samuel Project were direct results of this generation’s refusal to accept the myth.

Today, Salem Academy and College is working with Universities Studying Slavery and with Old Salem Museum & Gardens’ Hidden Town Project.  This work began in 2017 and is continuing through Jan Term internships and classes at the Academy as well as public programs on campus.  Forsyth County’s Historic Resources Commission has approved new historical markers on Church Street highlighting those enslaved men and women who worked at or attended Salem.  There are also plans to provide additional information in the Single Sisters Museum, which will be open to the public at no cost.  While campus is closed, you can access information about past research and current projects by visiting The Anna Maria Samuel Project.

Michelle Hopkins Lawrence
Co-chair of The Anna Maria Samuel Project: Race, Remembrance, and Reconciliation at Salem Academy and College
History Department Salem Academy

Academy Admissions Needs YOU!

Calling all alumnae!  We are in the crucial months when we need to ensure strong admissions to the Academy.  How can you help?  There are many ways to help us, but two key areas right now are communicating with prospective and accepted students as well as finding more applicants.  In today’s competitive and unique (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) environment, we would love your help finding future students and securing admitted students!

Do you know any young women who might be interested in Salem Academy?  You can refer students and/or families through our Admissions Referral Form.

Would you be willing to talk to prospective students and or admitted students?  Your firsthand experience at the Academy and your willingness to speak to a student on the Academy’s behalf can go a long way towards helping a student feel the warmth and sisterhood that is an integral part of the Academy experience.  If you are willing, please use the Alumnae Admissions Ambassador Form.

Voss Family

Faculty/Staff Spotlight: Brian Voss

Brian Voss has been a fixture on the Salem Academy and College grounds for more than 30 years … or rather, a moving target.  He loves nothing more than walking all over campus, according to his wife Julie Voss (herself a much-loved figure in Salem’s refectory).  “You’ll rarely see Brian riding in a golf cart,” Julie laughs.

By planting and tending everything green (and purple and gold!) at Salem, Brian, assistant director of grounds, knows every plant, tree, and bench here.  He probably should be called a plant whisperer!  After majoring in horticulture at North Carolina State University, Brian worked the gardens of Old Salem Museums & Gardens before coming to Salem.  As well as nurturing plants at Salem, Brian has nurtured many Academy and College students stressing about papers, exams, and general worries about life.  “I just like talking to everyone.  If the student seems nervous about an exam, I’ll tell them they’ll do just fine,” he says. In turn, the Academy and College alumnae always search for Brian when they visit campus for reunions, wanting to see how he’s doing.

Brian really enjoys working at an educational institution; he loves plants, history, and people, so being at Salem is a job he loves.  His oldest daughter Scarlett (A’11) tagged along to campus long before she was old enough to be an Academy student.  And in this Salem love story, Brian met his wife Julie on the Refectory loading dock.  He proposed in front of the Rondthaler-Gramley House, and they were married on Bryant Hall patio, with their reception (“best party ever!” according to Brian) in the Refectory.

Thank you, Brian, for making our campus green and lush, and thank you for being a friend to everyone at Salem!

Jessamyn; Photo Credit_ Jade Wilson - @thejadewilson
Photo Credit: Jade Wilson - @thejadewilson

Alumnae Spotlight: Jessamyn Stanley A’05

Jessamyn Stanley graduated in 2005 and then went on to a earn a B.A. in media studies from UNC Greensboro and an A.A. in culinary arts from the Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham. Today she is a yoga teacher, social activist, author, and podcaster.

Jessamyn is currently featured as a cover model for Cosmopolitan UK magazine’s February 2021 issue. Cosmopolitan has issued several covers featuring 11 different women who celebrate health and wellness of body and mind without subscribing to society’s narrative that to be fit and healthy, you must wear a size zero. You can read more about all of these inspiring women here.

Jessamyn has garnered international attention for her body positive approach to yoga and life.  You can find out more about her impressive and inspirational work on her website In addition to Cosmopolitan, she has been featured in The Washington Post, People Magazine, Forbes, Psychology Today, USA Today, Yoga Journal, Glamour, Seventeen, CNN, ABC News, and more.

In 2017, she published a book entitled “Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get On the Mat, Love Your Body,” and she created The Underbelly, an online yoga studio and app for all levels and all body types. Her highly anticipated second book, “Yoke: My Yoga of Self Acceptance” (Workman Publishing) will be released on June 22, 2021. In a series of deeply honest, funny, gritty, thoughtful, and largely autobiographical essays, “Yoke” explores issues of self-love, body-positivity, race, sex and sexuality, and more, all through the lens of an authentic yoga practice. Glamour magazine recently published an excerpt from “Yoke”.

Reflecting on her time at Salem Academy, Jessamyn said: “I would not be the person I am without Salem Academy. It has had an incalculable impact on my life, and I give thanks every day for the people and lessons that Salem has brought my way.”

cosmo cover featuring jessamyn


Salem 250 logo

You’re Invited to Salem’s 250th Celebration

In 1772, Salem Academy and College was founded on the revolutionary idea that girls and women deserve a rigorous education to prepare them to lead the way for a better world.  It is with great excitement and gratitude that we announce the yearlong celebration to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of Salem Academy and College. Throughout the 2021-2022 academic year, we will celebrate in many ways including opportunities to engage in inclusive reflections on our history and honoring the resilience, contributions, and experiences of those who paved the way.

We will honor our past as fuel to IGNITE our future.

The 250th Celebration will be a far-reaching effort and will take an army of volunteers. We would love your help! Complete this form to volunteer.

Visit our website to find out more about all the exciting events planned.  In particular, we wanted to draw your attention to the:

Journey from Bethlehem to Salem—September 28–October 26, 2021

Join with friends to walk for a day or two (or all 29 days) as we retrace the historic journey of the Single Sisters from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. This is a unique opportunity to reflect on and honor their courage and conviction as well as affirm the boundless potential of our community. Click for details on the Journey from Bethlehem to Salem event.

Salem Voices

Jennie McLaurin

Salem Voices: A Conversation with Salem Alumnae posts on the first and third Tuesdays of every month at 12:30 p.m.  The most recent episode was released on February 16 and featured Dr. Jennie Smith McLaurin, C'81. Jennie is a pediatrician, writer, and public health expert with particular interests in culture, bioethics, and theology.

After Salem she received an MD from Wake Forest University, an MPH from UNC-Chapel Hill, and an MA in theology and ethics from Regent College (Vancouver, BC).  She has worked with marginalized and underserved communities in the US for more than 30 years, caring for migrant, homeless, indigenous, and special needs populations. Nationally, she is a consultant for the federal Health Resources Services Administration and for the National Association of Community Health Centers. She also serves as a mentor and teacher of health professions students as well as graduate students. This episode and others are available on our website.

Noel LumpkinThe next edition of Salem Voices will debut Tuesday, March 2 at 12:30 p.m. and will feature Dr. Noël Lumpkin, C’86.  Noël received her M.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia and did her residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  After completing a fellowship at the Virginia Mason Hospital and Clinics in Seattle, Washington, she decided to call the Pacific Northwest her home.  Working as an anesthesiologist in her community, her restlessness led her to pursue locum tenens work. Initially seen as a temporary lark, she has now done full-time locum tenens work for more than 15 years. Her experience prodded her to write a book, “Road Warrior Physician,” a how-to manual on the locum tenens life.

Join us to learn more about these amazing alumnae as they engage in conversations Lucy Rose, C’76, Vice Chair of the Salem Academy and College Board of Trustees and owner and president of Lucy Rose and Associates.

Career Crafting with Collier

Career Crafting with Collier

The Lucy Rose Center for Global Leadership and Career Innovation and the Office of Alumnae Engagement have partnered to offer Career Crafting with Collier, a professional development series for Academy and College alumnae. The first session, Creating Your Winning Resume, took place on February 17. Our next session will be held on March 17 at noon. Login details will be provided to all alumnae in advance of the event.  Watch the recording of Creating Your Winning Resume.

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