News from the May Dell - June, 2021

Kris Sorrells campus brick building backgroundFrom the Head of School

Dear Friends,

The Class of 2021 completed their Academy experience with an amazing and memorable graduation ceremony. Watching the seniors enter the May Dell in their graduation gowns and decorated hats brought a smile to all watching. The class has much to be proud of and an incredible future ahead of them. I hope you will take a few moments to watch the graduation ceremony and baccalaureate ceremony videos.

The Monday after graduation felt quiet without students. Although students are off campus, several faculty and staff will be at the Academy working this summer on curriculum design and plans for the Academy’s future. Our excitement regarding the Academy’s next steps is evident in our discussions. We are sharing ideas, discussing articles, books, and more. Our team is focused on designing for the growth of our current and future students. This design extends beyond academics and into experiences that emphasize leadership building, service, global knowledge, and well-being. We look forward to sharing more about this work very soon.

Kris Porazzi Sorrells
Head of School
Susan Henking headshot with green background - courtesy Salem Academy and College

President’s Corner

Dear Salem Friends,

In January of 2019, I took a chance and came to Salem alongside two other candidates to interview for the position of Interim Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. I knew little about the College—and less about the Academy. Who knew that I would eventually be exiting as Interim President of Salem Academy and College so many months—now years—later? Who knew what a chance you would take on this interim?

I am glad we took a chance on each other.

Together, we have faced challenges and turned them into hope. The environment of both independent schools and colleges is a difficult one. It has been for some time. Salem’s leadership saw that and knew change was an absolute necessity. They knew—as you know—that hope requires vision and action. That was true before a global pandemic, before renewed tensions around racial injustice, and before economic crisis faced us. It remains true.

The environment of both independent schools and colleges is both local and global, both high touch and high tech, and more. To be both/and is critical and as Academy and College, you taught me that in new ways.

Education, in my view, is a public good. And so, the work of Academy and College ought to, directly or indirectly, change the world for the better. And those of us with a vocation in education must do so in two ways—both by changing individual lives as yours were changed during your time at Salem and by leading as an institution. Salem certainly led across its nearly 250 years—beginning with the risky choice to educate women. Salem continues to lead by embracing rather than fearing change, recognizing rather than avoiding Salem’s historic role in injustice, and working diligently and ferociously toward a better Salem.

As a favorite poet of mine (Jane Hirshfield) has said, “Zen pretty much comes down to three things—everything changes; everything is connected; pay attention.” The same, in my experience, might be said of education at its best.

It has been a privilege to join you for a bit of your journey. I wish for each of you—and for Salem—a delightful 250th—and a future that makes you proud.

Susan Henking
Interim President
Summer McGee on campus with summer blooms behind her

Dr. Summer McGee Named President of Salem Academy and College

Salem Academy and College is pleased to announce the appointment of Summer Johnson McGee, Ph.D., CPH as our new president. Dr. McGee is currently the Founding Dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut and will assume her new role at Salem starting July 1, 2021. You can read more about Dr. McGee on our website. In addition, you can watch a recording of the full announcement of her appointment that took place on Thursday, June 10 in front of Main Hall and another shorter video about her appointment and recent visit to campus.

Fiscal Year End Giving

Salem Academy’s fiscal year is coming to a close on June 30th. Now is our time to make a difference by financially supporting Salem because we care about our students and building our future together.

Give today at, by phone at 336-721-2607, or mail a check to Salem Academy, Office of Institutional Advancement, 601 South Church Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101. Thank you!

Reunion Giving Update

Calling all classes ending in 1s and 6s! Every year, Reunion gifts are critical to Salem meeting our Academy Fund goal. The graphic shows giving by class to date. The Reunion giving deadline has been extended to June 30. Give today at, by phone at 336-721-2607, or mail a check to Salem Academy, Office of Institutional Advancement, 601 South Church Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101. Thank you for supporting Salem with your Reunion gift!

Salem Academy Reunion Giving June 15, click for details


The 2021 Joel Weston Award for Faculty/Staff Excellence

Photo of JoAnn CaligiuriThe Parents’ Association of Salem Academy established the Joel Weston Award for Faculty Excellence in memory of Joel Weston to honor the faculty and staff of Salem Academy. The first award was presented in the spring of 1986. To qualify for this award, the person must demonstrate excellence in classroom teaching (if faculty); in relations with students; and in their overall contributions to the Academy community. 


The 2021 Weston Award winner is JoAnn Caligiuri, who serves as Salem Academy’s learning specialist. A brief synopsis from her nominations gives a sense of why she won: Ms. Caligiuri is a truly wonderful human, and she is so dearly appreciated by everyone at Salem. She is always willing to help any student in need and will meet any question with a genuine smile. She has gone above and beyond during the pandemic to make sure we are comfortable with our classes. Mrs. Caligiuri has helped so many students with both their academic and social endeavors.

The 2021 Elsie Nunn Headmaster’s Award

Dr. Christopher ClaryThe Elsie Nunn Headmaster’s Award was established in honor of Elsie Nunn, one of the most distinguished teachers in the long history of Salem Academy. A mathematics teacher at the Academy for 40 years, Ms. Nunn understood that great teachers do a lot more than just teach their subject matter. She dedicated her life to her students, became involved in their lives outside the classroom and was always there when needed. The purpose of the Elsie Nunn Headmaster’s Award is to recognize faculty at Salem Academy who reflect the spirit of responsibility and the dedication to service which Ms. Nunn exemplified. To qualify for the award, the person must meet the following criteria: deliver selfless and cheerful service; develop positive relationships with students, faculty, and staff; and possess a willingness to go beyond the requirements of duty.

This year’s winner is Dr. Christopher Clary, who teaches English. Dr. Clary was described as: A kind and considerate educator, always willing to take time for students outside of class to discuss class content and unique personal interests. A colleague who speaks their mind, holding us all accountable for our actions and reminding us to consider multiple perspectives when making decisions. Someone who is engaging and eager to collaborate. A person who goes above and beyond both in and out of the classroom. Someone who really listens to students and treats them with respect.

The 2021 Faculty Award Winner

Jessie GentlesThe Faculty Award is given at graduation to the senior whose qualities of character, personality, and service most exemplify those of the ideal Salem Academy student. The recipient is selected by the faculty. This year’s winner is Jessie Gentles A’21.

Here are a few descriptors used to describe Jessie: dynamic presence, contagious smile, generous heart, calm demeanor, ambitious mind, open eyes, fighting spirit, love of people, and encouraging friend. She was also described as a mature and independent young woman, one who is capable of not only meeting but challenging the complexities of the modern world; who has developed such skills as confidence, rapport with her peers, and extremely positive energy; someone who is a hard-working student willing to ask questions with full of a desire to learn; a person with a heart full of compassion, who will take the time to listen to your troubles and remind you about how much you have for which to be thankful.

Jessie plans to attend Miami University in Oxford, Ohio this fall.

Academy Admissions—It is Not Too Late to Apply for Fall 2021!

Make sure your daughter or granddaughter or any other important young woman in your life has the inside track on Salem Academy and/or Salem College! We want to be sure they are on our list to get information about all our great programs. Even if they are not quite of age to apply, we would love to know about them so we can include them on our mailings. Use our Admissions Referral Form.

Or, please use this form to become an Academy Alumna Ambassador.

Road to Salem 250

The Road to the 250th:

The Journey from Bethlehem to Bethabara to Salem

On October 2, 1766, a party of 19 Moravians set out from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to travel 500 miles to Bethabara, North Carolina. The travelers included 12 young girls (ages 13 to 17), four Single Sisters, one married woman whose husband was already in Bethabara, and a married couple. Fortunately, one of the young girls, Salome Meurer, kept a diary during the journey. From this remarkable written record, we are able to discern much about the Moravians, colonial-era travel, and the determination of these early settlers to establish themselves in North Carolina.

Ultimately, this journey led to the establishment of Salem Academy and College, since several members of this 1766 group, including Elisabeth Oesterlein and Salome Meurer, moved to the newly formed town of Salem and became teachers at the institution that was founded six years later.

The 250th anniversary of Salem Academy and College will include a retracing of the girls’ journey from Bethlehem to Bethabara and on to Salem Square, starting September 28 and ending October 26, 2021. While the 1766 party had nine horses, the horses were primarily used for pulling the large wagon with their tents, food, and other supplies for the journey. The 2021 reenactment will have no horses, but there will be a “wagon” (i.e., a van) to assist the walkers and carry luggage. Unlike our intrepid 1766 group, we will not be camping or seeking shelter in barns, nor will we be following old Indian trading paths. Our walk will be along primary and secondary roads through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, and we will stay in hotels each night.

As we pay homage to this group by retracing their route, we will be providing daily updates via social media and the Salem Academy and College websites, highlighting entries in Salome Meurer’s journal, the individuals who were in the 1766 party, and the social, historical, and geographical context of the journey. 

We hope you will join us by walking one day, three days, or twenty-nine days—whatever your schedule will allow. More information about the walk is here, and you can register for the walk via this walk registration link. We also encourage you to consider participating virtually by walking in your own hometown or on local trails. And we hope to have a large crowd in Salem Square on October 26, 2021, to welcome the walkers “home.”

Virginia S. Hart A’75, former Academy Alumnae Director

250th Celebration

Journey from Bethlehem to Salem

Journey from Bethlehem to Salem map graphic

Registration for the Journey from Bethlehem to Salem, which will take place from September 28–October 26, 2021, is now open. Find out more and register for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Save the Date for Honor the Past. Ignite the Future. An Evening for Salem

You won’t want to miss “Honor the Past. Ignite the Future. An Evening for Salem” on Saturday, September 25, 2021. This event kicks off our 250 Celebration year and will include a concert with the Winston-Salem Symphony at 6 p.m., a Champagne Toast, and Dinner and Dancing, all on the campus of Salem Academy and College. Tickets will go on sale in mid-July. Get more information about Honor the Past. Ignite the Future. from our website. If you can’t make it to the Salem campus, don’t worry, the concert will be live streamed. Host a dinner party and enjoy the concert in the comfort of your own home!

Salem Academy Virtual Theatre Production

The Salem Academy Theatre Department was able to produce not one but two spring shows despite the complicating factors of COVID-19. An in-person show, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, was performed outdoors in May. We hope to have a recording of this production available soon. A virtual show was produced in late May and can be watched here Puffs, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic. Click here to review the playbill. Over 60 hours of editing, 50 different characters, 30 hours of rehearsals, and 20 performers came together to create this fun production.

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