Who do you want to be when you grow up?

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By: Dr. Lucie Pentz

Who do you want to be when you grow up? This is the million dollar question.

A few summers ago, on a pleasant July night, I was taking a walk in our neighborhood with our then third grader, holding an empty pickle jar in our hands, trying to catch a few lighting bugs. (No, we did not catch any, in case you’re wondering). There must have been something about the warm, relaxing breeze that opened the door to the deeper questions of life to surface, such as, what do you want to do when you grow up? Filled with curiosity, I asked whether he was still interested in becoming a firefighter which seemed as an understandably popular choice for an adventure-seeking third-grade boy. The conversation continued, admittedly fueled by my incessant questions.  With his big brown eyes, he finally looked at me and resolutely announced, perhaps just trying to stop the flood of the existential interrogation.  “ Well… you just never know what life will bring your way.” While my curiosity was dismissed and went unsatisfied, I realized that I couldn’t agree with him more.

Yes,  it’s true we never know what life will bring our way. Careers change; interests shift or morph into yet another variation. Our hopes, goals, and aspirations may fade, often unrealized like blowing bubbles that vanish into the air and eventually burst into nothingness. We all have experienced those moments of pivotal turns, crushed dreams, and unexpected detours, trying to navigate the life for which we did not prepare. Many times, feeling shook up and disoriented, we search and grasp for scripts and recipes to guide our next decision. But deep down inside, we know there are no how-to books or tutorials that would speak into our jumbled circumstances. So, what is left then, when the question of what do you want to do when you grow up feels so daunting? Perhaps we’re not asking our children the right question. What about this?… Who do you want to be when you grow up? What kind of person are you hoping to become? At the core of our parenting efforts, we return to the essential all-supporting and all-encompassing foundation of character. Those collective virtues of wisdom, kindness, humility, selflessness, and too many other qualities to name, form the bedrock of character that sustains us through the uncertain circumstances of life.  What do our children do when no one is looking, when the work is not being graded and trophies are not dispensed? What do our children say behind our backs when we’re not listening? What do our children do when they’ve been wronged and are tempted to seek revenge or when there are no immediate or obvious payoffs or rewards for doing the right thing.  All those moments of decision-making represent the opportunity to make choices that develop and ultimately reflect character.

So the real question guiding our parenting and the developmental path taken by our children ought not to be “What do you want to be (or do) when you grow up?” but rather “Who do you want to be when you grow up?”  In the long run, being always precedes doing.  Who you are will determine what you do.

Our third-grader was correct. While we cannot completely prepare our children for the right career or vocation, we can equip them for the ups and downs of life, twisting, hilly (or mountainous) stretches of the road, as they journey towards character with us by their side. We are the shepherds of their souls, keeping watch, guiding and loving on them all the way in firm yet gentle ways.

Would you like to further explore the topic of character together? Come and join us at St. James Academy on October 18 at 9:30. We will talk about the journey towards character through creating your family mission statement. We’d love to have you join us.

Register for “Character Matters: Raising Your Child for the Ultimate Success”

Permanent Head Search Update

By | 2017-2018 School Year | No Comments

Dear Parents, Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Friends of the Academy:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees,  I would like to welcome you the ’17-’18 Academic Year at SJA, and particularly to our new families, we welcome you to SJA. You are about to embark on a wonderful experience with your children who are the ultimate beneficiaries of all that the Academy and this community has to offer.

While much has transpired since the end of the ’16-’17 school year, SJA has experienced nothing but positive developments.  You should know that through the hard work of your Board of Trustees, its committees, SJA’s administrative team, faculty and staff, the Academy has in place an extraordinary Interim Head in Maureen Walsh.  In no small part, the parents who took the time to respond to our Interim Head Survey were instrumental in allowing us to arrive at a final decision in selecting Maureen. To that I say, thank you!

Please know further that the Athletic Committee, through the leadership of Ed Kohls, has initiated the permitting process to begin construction of an outdoor Athletic Pavilion and Athletic Field improvements beginning this Fall (a direct result of our Capital Campaign!). When you see Ed and members of his committee, who include Bryan Lopez, Fred Sheckells, Kevin Culley and Mr. Deyseu, a mention of thanks would be appreciated. They worked tirelessly over the summer on this project, although I am sure they are embarrassed by my public acknowledgment of their generous volunteer service.

Now to the matter at hand, the process to begin the Permanent Head Selection Process (PH).  The Board has approved, at the Board Level, the establishment of a Head Selection  Committee (HSC).  The purpose of the HSC will  be to  spearhead the PH process.   The following persons have agreed  to serve on the HSC:  myself, Denise Shaffer (Chair), Tom Moore (Co-Chair), Martin Porter, Chris Wooten, Gunner Beattie, Adam Snavely along with the addition of Charlie Noell  and  Mrs. Diane Weglein (Patrons President).

Briefly, and to give you some background, this group has developed a sense of interdependence and synergy which is based on the past involvement in the Interim Head (IH) selection process.  Your Board feels strongly  that the PH process should reflect a natural flow from the IH selection process into this phase of selecting a permanent head. Thus, a continuation of the core committee genuinely reflects that continuity.  The addition of Charlie Noell and Diane Weglein serves to round out the interest of the Board and the parents group, respectively.

Please be assured that you our parents, students, alumni, administrative team and faculty will be provided opportunities for meaningful input in the PH process, and there will be more to say about that as we embark on this process.  Also, you will be notified regularly of the official status of this process through the Foxhound Focus and postings on the Academy’s website.

To our entire Academy community, thank you for your patience and support throughout this process and we have much to look forward to.

Respectfully Submitted,
Board of Trustees
By: /s/ Rob Glushakow, President

Spotlight on Mrs. Oleszczuk

By | 2016-2017 School Year | No Comments

Mrs. Oleszczuk is an experienced kindergarten teacher, with a Master in Reading Instruction and a Master in Early Childhood Education from Towson University.

Career highlights: 6 years as a kindergarten teacher in Harford County Public Schools

What does St. James Academy mean to you? It means family, creating and building strong relationships that last a lifetime.

What do you want the students to learn from you? Learning does not end in school; learning is something that continues through adulthood and never ends.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Spending time with my husband, and two daughters. Going to Ocean City with my extended family.

Who inspired you growing up? My teachers throughout my schooling inspired me. My favorite teacher taught me to be friends with everyone, and that learning should be fun.

If could meet one famous person who would it be and why?  Torrey Smith (even though he doesn’t play for the Ravens anymore). Not only is Torrey an amazing athlete, but he is also extremely involved with the community and volunteering. In college, at the University of Maryland, he was a top student and continues to attend college courses, while working in the NFL.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know. I am a huge University of Alabama football fan. I try to attend one game in Alabama each year. Also, Mrs. Baranowski and I have known each other since we were 3 and went to elementary, middle, and high school together. The friendships I see here at SJA, remind me so much of the one we share. Sometimes, the friendships you make, really do last a lifetime.

SJA Celebrates 60 Years!

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SJA’s 60th birthday will be marked by a celebration tonight honoring the artwork and musical talent of SJA students. From the beginning in 1821 to the reestablishment in 1957, the Academy has followed the Episcopal tradition of recognizing the gifts that each child brings to the world. Known as one of the most prestigious schools in Baltimore County, students are offered opportunities to explore academics, the arts, and athletics. The programs provided to students enhance and open young minds to think beyond the classroom and into the world.

“The future of St. James Academy is flourishing. Our school community is one of reflection and innovation and is an ideal environment for children to learn, grow, and blossom into young people. This celebration marks the success of St. James Academy and showcases the whole community,” said Karl Adler, Head of School. Our Artist-in-Residence, Mr. Eli Hess, will culminate the evening with his installation of Geomtree. Mr. Hess has collaborated with students to create an outstanding piece of artwork.

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