Over the past 10 years, Canterbury has built an extraordinary partnership with San Miguel Academy of Newburgh, a scholarship- and faith-based, independent middle school for boys in grades 5-8 from underserved families in Newburgh, NY. The partnership began with Canterbury Board of Trustees members Lauren and Bob Steers ’71, who have had a longstanding involvement with San Miguel Academy, and Fr. Mark Connell, who is both the Executive Director of San Miguel Academy and Canterbury’s adjunct priest.
On Thursday, October 8, San Miguel Academy hosted their annual benefit gala, which honors significant partnerships with the Academy and also raises funds to continue their programming. This year, Canterbury was the recipient of the San Miguel Academy IMPACT Award. During the virtual ceremony, Chairman Thomas Crispi said, “Over the years, we’ve been blessed with so many terrific supporters. Each year, we gather to honor one of those supporters who is critical to our mission. This year, we’re honoring an organization who has been with us, an organization who has helped our students achieve their God-given potential and continue on their pathway toward success.”
Head of School Rachel Stone accepted the award via video and shared her appreciation for the collaboration between the two schools, “I think our partnership with San Miguel is unique. The level of commitment across Canterbury’s family and constituencies is outstanding; there are so many people who care deeply about both schools and the partnership between them. I have never experienced anything like it before, and I’m really confident that it’s going to be an enduring partnership for many, many years to come. On behalf of Canterbury School, we are so thankful and proud to be the recipient of this year’s San Miguel Academy IMPACT Award.”
Several of the San Miguel graduates who attended or currently attend Canterbury also spoke via video and expressed their gratitude for the experience they had at both schools. Henry Garcia (San Miguel ’11, Canterbury School ’15, Fairfield University ’19) is currently a legal researcher at Thomson Reuters. Henry shared, “Canterbury has definitely defined my character. It taught me a lot about leadership [...] and being independent. I hope that more San Miguel boys will end up coming here and having the most amazing experience of their lives, just the way that I did.”
Canterbury is especially grateful for the impact that our San Miguel students have on our community. During her acceptance of the award, Rachel remarked, “This vision and journey began with Lauren and Bob Steers ’71 and Fr. Mark Connell, and now we have six extraordinary young men, all graduates of San Miguel, who have made Canterbury School an even better place. It began with Henry ’15 and Brian ’15, and then went on to Tito ’17, and now we have Na’Sah ’21, David ’22, and Geoffrey ’24 all walking the halls of Canterbury. This partnership is extraordinary and we are deeply grateful.”
All of the San Miguel graduates who have attended Canterbury have fully embraced the school community and made positive contributions to it. Na’Sah Dabbs ’21 (San Miguel ’17) is a member of the Sixth Form Council and Interfaith Council, and is an Admission Lead Ambassador and Boarding Proctor in Carmody House; David Salazar ’22 is a Boarding Proctor in Havemeyer House and a member of the Boys’ Varsity Soccer team; and Geoffrey Moran ’24 plays on the Boys’ JV Soccer team and is a member of AHANA (for students of African, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American descent). In a self-made video shared during the gala, David ’22 said, “Anyone can find their place here at Canterbury and feel like they belong, and that is something that is hard to find. It’s really special because you never feel left out anywhere on campus. It’s amazing.”
San Miguel Academy provides a safe haven for intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth, and utilizes small classes, extended school days, and an extended school year with a summer program to fight the cycle of poverty through education. Students who attend the Academy are provided academic, personal, and family support to reposition themselves for success in their future endeavors.
The Academy supports over 250 Newburgh, NY families and helped provide them with food during the pandemic. When the Canterbury community learned that San Miguel families were in need, they sprang into action and spent three months purchasing, transporting, and organizing supplies for Fr. Mark’s temporary food pantry. They also brought water from Lourdes (where Canterbury offers a pilgrimage each year), with which Fr. Mark blessed each family that came to San Miguel, as well as those who had lent a hand. Director of Theater Sarah Armstrong, who coordinated the efforts, said “It gave us a purpose during a very strange time. We were humbled and privileged to partner with San Miguel Academy in living out Canterbury's Five Values of Honesty, Respect, Compassion, Spirituality, and Self-reliance. It made us proud to be Saints.”
Canterbury is extremely grateful for this wonderful partnership and humbled to be recognized with this esteemed award. The School looks forward to a bright future with San Miguel Academy and its students!