Nansemond-Suffolk Academy (NSA) was the vision of approximately 100 parents who came together to organize a private elementary school in Suffolk, Virginia, serving grades one through seven. The school opened with 128 students, six teachers and a principal.
NSA moved to the current site of the Main Campus on Pruden Boulevard, west of downtown Suffolk. The Lower School building was erected followed by the Upper School building for students in grades eight through 12. The first student from South America graduated from NSA in the 1970s.
Mr. Arthur E. Jones became the Headmaster of NSA and served in that role from 1971-1984. Under his leadership, NSA developed a full range of academic, athletic and extracurricular programs and began to draw students from Portsmouth, Chesapeake and surrounding areas, as well as from Suffolk.
The school held its first graduation with the Class of 1972.
The first Asian American and Black students graduated from NSA. NSA hires the first faculty member of color to teach at NSA, who remained at NSA until 2000.
Mr. J. Albert Barrett (1984-1989) became president upon the retirement of Mr. Jones. Under his direction, NSA adopted an exclusively college preparatory curriculum.
NSA joins the National Association of Independent Schools.
Dr. Douglas C. Naismith (1989-2005) became president of NSA, and to this day, he has been NSA’s longest serving president.
Mr. Shane A. Foster (2005-2008) assumed the president position, which was then renamed the head of school.
NSA’s fifth Head of School, Mr. Colley W. Bell III, began his tenure after Mr. Foster relocated to the midwest.
NSA joins the Virginia Diversity Network and further expands on the diverse recruitment of faculty, staff, students and trustees. The first Black trustee was elected to the NSA Board of Trustees.
Upon Mr. Bell’s departure in 2013, Mrs. Deborah B. Russell became NSA’s sixth head of school. She continues to serve in that role today, leading the school through reaccreditation, strategic planning, diverse recruitment of faculty, staff and students, improvements to programs and facilities as well as fundraising.
NSA embarks on a capital campaign with a goal of $6.5 million for strategic initiatives, creates the Sandra F. Birdsong Center for Academic Excellence and hires a consultant to assist the school in rethinking scheduling, curriculum offerings, staffing and use of facilities.
NSA celebrates the 50th anniversary of the school and reaches 25% diversity within the student body, the highest in the school’s history.
NSA releases its new strategic plan, with updated vision and mission statements, new core values and a portrait of an NSA graduate as well as six strategic initiatives centered on curriculum and programs, the school environment, faculty and staff, communications and marketing, financial vitality and school governance.
NSA renews its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The Board of Trustees establishes a diversity, equity and inclusion committee of the board. An anti-racism and discrimination policy was approved by the Board of Trustees and added to all student and parent handbooks. NSA received an anonymous gift of $50,000 to establish a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Endowment Fund.
NSA engages NAIS to launch the Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) survey and guide the school in a self-assessment. Using appreciative inquiry, the survey will help NSA evaluate diversity, multiculturalism, equity and justice in our school community. The AIM survey and school self-assessment will also assist NSA in determining how well we are incorporating NAIS’ Principles of Good Practice: Equity and Justice within our school.