Nicole Bassolino, 2017 to 2018 school chair, has used her maturity and positivity to maintain Thacher’s close community even through numerous disasters and losses this year. Head of School Michael Mulligan commented at assembly a few weeks ago that Nicole has been one of the best school chairs that he has seen in his 32 years at Thacher.
When the school chair candidate statements were released last spring, Nicole’s stood out not only for its lighthearted questions and responses but also its message. While some candidates hold overly ambitious goals for their time as school chair, Nicole’s statement employed a realistic sense for her abilities: “Let’s first switch the dialogue from how can we change Thacher to how can we improve Thacher. I believe that it’s little things that can make a big difference.” Nicole has effectively used surveys and song playlists at Wednesday assembly to bring the community closer, improving the School through small actions. She’s shown that major changes don’t need to be made to assembly to run effectively and to be fun for the school. Nicole says to future school chairs, “You’re going to want to at first try to fix everything and you’re going to realize that that actually is impossible in the short three trimesters that you have, because three trimesters to instigate any change is really not a lot of time.” However, Nicole has used her three trimesters to improve Thacher’s attitude, avoiding dramatic change while enhancing the School’s culture.
Nicole began the year with an email to all students outlining her plans for the Fall term and a promise to keep the student body updated throughout the year. Although her goal of two emails each term was hindered by the chaos of the Thomas Fire, Nicole has maintained her communication with her peers, clearly stating her current progress and plans. Students were pleased this Fall by the new addition of salad bowls and larger mugs to Thacher’s dining hall, one of Nicole’s many legacies. She also hosted town halls in the Fall to provide an avenue for each grade to express their interests for change. Nicole is also responsible for the current events updates added to the Daily Reader, a paper with the daily birthdays, schedule, and historical announcements placed on the lazy susans in the dining hall. Nicole has also created “Tadpole Dinners,” a playful take on Thacher’s TOAD Dinners. While it’s been a tradition to have the Teacher On Active Duty choose a meal for one day during their reign, Nicole has allowed seniors to also have that opportunity to spice up the School’s menu.
Mr. Mulligan noted, “The school chair can fundamentally improve the morale of the school…and Nicole has done that.” She has facilitated productive discussions on this year’s JC cases and “explained clearly and well what was going on and what the values of the school were that lie beneath the principles.” Nicole emphasized the importance of a connected community with positivity through a set of less-than-desirable circumstances, and has successfully completed her year as school chair as a model of maturity.
The next school chair, Piper Stacey, will have to bridge the gap of the Head of School transition in addition to any unforeseen challenges that may arise, although hopefully not as many as Nicole had. Mr. Mulligan said, “I think these are big shoes to fill with Nicole. She’s got a lot of maturity and wisdom about her that is not always the case with school chairs.” As Nicole’s successor begins her time as school chair, Nicole recommends focusing on organization, time management, confidence, and having fun. “Focus on something and make sure that you follow through on that,” Nicole says, having learned that prioritizing a larger theme of change is more effective than many small ones. While the community will miss Nicole and her ability to lighten the School’s mood, it looks forward to Piper’s future in the role.