Recently I came across my old journal and realized that my dream of becoming a Child Psychologist dated back to the fourth grade. However, my journey toward that destination included a detour in the direction of earning an undergraduate degree in theology/biblical languages. I subsequently earned an M.A. in Counseling from Gordon-Conwell and then moved to Chicago to pursue doctoral studies at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. I became interested in Adlerian psychology in high school and wanted to receive more advanced training and supervision. After graduation, I moved to Maryland and did my postdoctoral fellowship at the Forbush School at Glyndon, (therapeutic private day school) which is part of the Sheppard Pratt Health System. Upon completion of the fellowship training, I was hired as a Staff Psychologist and remained at The Forbush School for almost nine years.
I enjoyed my time at the Forbush School at Glyndon. I provided individual and group psychotherapy to children. It was gratifying to see children grow and mature despite the various challenges they were facing. I was especially excited to see students learn new strategies for managing their behavior and feelings, navigating relationships and becoming more resilient. I always thought that it was important for children to develop special interests, skills, hobbies and to discover their unique “niches”. I never ceased to be amazed by children’s imagination and curiosity.
What does St. James Academy mean to you?
St. James Academy represents to me that special, safe place that sparks each student’s curiosity and inspires them to learn. It is the first place, outside the home, where you make your first friend, meet your first teacher, and read and write your first sentence. I have been impressed by the atmosphere that promotes kindness and growth. The Honor Code embodies the principles and values that govern and guide not only children but adults as well.
What do you want the students to learn from you?
I have been inspired by the work of Alfred Adler (famous Austrian psychiatrist) who emphasized the courage to be imperfect and to use your “inferiorities” as a tool for perseverance and resilience. The acceptance of failure inspires humility that in turn fosters courage and empathy. Another important Adlerian lesson is that you don’t have to like everybody, but you must respect everybody. The world is full of quirky folks who might not be your “cup of tea,” but you need to be nice and respectful and perhaps even allow yourself to learn something from them. Be open. Try something new. Learn more about yourself and the world around you and foster your special gifts and talents. Be generous and give of yourself to others. Share your gifts with others. Consider that you’ve been blessed to be a blessing to others.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I always get energized by spending time with my family. I love reading, baking, cycling, running and doing anything related to arts/crafts like making sock monkeys and sewing. Last year I started taking guitar lessons and I’m learning to play the ukulele. I’m also involved with my church where I have been teaching Jr. High Sunday School class for the past seven years. I enjoy outreach ministry, especially weekly visits to the residents of a retirement community.
Who inspired you growing up?
Of course, my parents. I was also inspired by my great-grandfather who lived during WWI and WWII in the occupied Czechoslovakia and had a courageous story of thriving and growing through adversity.
If you could meet one famous person who would it be and why?
I don’t think I can pick only one. I have always been interested in WWII history as I grew up 50 miles from Auschwitz. So my picks would be Anne Frank, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Corrie ten Boom. Yes, I would love to meet my favorite artist, Frida Kahlo.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
I was born and raised in a bilingual home in Czechoslovakia, currently the Czech Republic. At one point, we switched to one language because my younger siblings were complaining. I guess an interesting fact would be that there are five languages spoken at my family reunions. Growing up I spoke a local dialect “Po Naszymu” which was a mixture of Czech, Polish, German, Slovak, Russian and Yiddish. The tricky thing was knowing from what language the particular word was “borrowed.”