Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The secret in education lies in respect for the student.” David and Susan Stifel, both educators, agree. Parents of William ’16 and Lizzie ’19 say that respect for the student is what led them to Moravian Academy. David is an economics professor at Lafayette College and Susan is a special education teacher in Bethlehem and an adjunct professor at Northampton Community College.
“We look for schools that share our values and put a high priority on academics, as well as giving students multiple opportunities to explore athletics, the arts and more,” say the Stifels.
William, now at Davidson College, was involved in several sports including cross country, swimming, and baseball, as well as student council, jazz band (tenor sax), Chinese Cultural Night, and the Red Cross Club at Moravian Academy, while Lizzie plays soccer, basketball, and lacrosse, sings in the chorus, plays flute in the concert band, participates in PJAS and serves as sacristan for weekly Chapel.
“Our children have different personalities, learning styles and interests. We like that Moravian Academy challenges each of them in his or her own way. It is not a ‘one size fits all’ learning environment,” Susan says. Susan and David also see the small class sizes, variety of student opportunities, and high academic standards as strengths of the Academy.
The Stifel family spent William’s eighth grade year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia while David was on sabbatical. Lizzie entered the Academy after that experience. The Stifels remember fondly being warmly welcomed back by the Moravian Academy faculty after having been away, and they have high praise for the faculty.
“We appreciate the time and effort that teachers put into the midterm and quarterly/trimester progress reports. The teachers know our children, their strengths and their needs, and they continually challenge them to do their best. We especially like that our children are expected to take ownership of their learning by asking questions and going to teachers with any concerns or issues. This can only happen if the teachers make themselves available for extra help and they do!” David says.
The Stifels also appreciate that the faculty and staff come out to support student events. They are impressed by the number of staff who coordinate and encourage students to take leadership roles in extracurricular activities. In addition, they recognize the effort that former Headmaster George N. King, Jr. made to attend so many events and games.
David and Susan appreciate what Moravian Academy does for their children and family, and they give back as well. The Stifels are supporters of the Moravian Academy Annual Fund and have volunteered at many events. David has been a guest speaker in William’s classes and Susan has participated in a variety of roles, such as Lions' Invitational volunteer, team parent for Middle School girls' soccer team, and the Class of 2019 Tribute Fund committee member. “Even though we work full time, we try to find small ways in which we can contribute to the community,” Susan says.
“We want to show our appreciation to the teachers and staff who give so much to our children. A school can have the best facilities in the world, but it is not a place of learning without educators who are passionate about their subjects and excited about being in the classroom. We are fortunate that Moravian has such teachers and staff, and we want to support them as best we can,” David says.