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SMA Announces New Director of Advancement, Natalie Mesko

 

St. Mary's Academy is thrilled to announce that we have concluded our national search for a Director of Advancement to succeed Charlie Arbogast, who will retire on July 31 after 23 years of exemplary service.  On behalf of the School, we’d like to welcome Natalie Mesko to the SMA family.  


Natalie earned her B.A. in Public Relations from Loyola University New Orleans.  Upon graduating, she began her career working for her alma mater in the Office of Admissions, eventually serving as Director of Admissions and earning a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration.  


Natalie ultimately made her way to fundraising work, where she served for fifteen years as Vice President of CCS Fundraising, a comprehensive and widely recommended fundraising consulting and management firm. Natalie also served for three years as Executive Director of Seeds of Hope Charitable Trust. 


During her tenure with CCS, Natalie provided nonprofit institutions, including many schools, with comprehensive strategy and leadership in all facets of fundraising.  Natalie is recognized for her ability to thoughtfully lead teams, build relationships, and apply a donor-centered approach to advancing a school’s mission and fundraising goals.  In the many conversations she had during her visits to campus, Natalie’s energy, expertise, and connection to our mission, vision, and values was evident, and we are excited to have Natalie help our school achieve even greater success. 


Natalie will begin working with us on March 1, mostly remotely, until Charlie’s departure at the end of July.  We feel strongly that the overlap between her and Charlie will allow Natalie to have time to meet just about everyone in our community and gain a clearer understanding of our advancement office process and strategic initiatives so that she can hit the ground running this summer.


Please join us in welcoming Natalie in the coming weeks and months.

 

 

 

 

 

Middle School Students Embark on Peru Trip
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Fifteen Middle School students along with Ms. Garcia and Ms. Fernandez, left on Wednesday for a two week trip to Peru.  There they will share meals with local families, engage in service-learning, and engage with the community in a number of different ways.  Follow their journey through this Peru Blog!  We wish them well.

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Hannah Schuett Named 2019 KidSpirit Award Winner
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Hannah Schuett, 9th grade, was recently named a 2019 KidSpirit Award winner. KidSpirit is a nonprofit online magazine and community by and for youth to engage each other about life’s big questions in an open and inclusive spirit. Its mission is to promote mutual understanding among 11- to 17-year-olds of diverse backgrounds and support their development into world citizens with strong inner grounding.

Hannah’s article, “The Tree of Change” won in the Interfaith Connections department.  Hannah and her family attended the awards ceremony on Monday, November 4 at Capitale in New York City.  Hannah was also able to attend KidSpirit’s first annual Global Summit for more than 30 editors and award winners.  There she had the opportunity to connect with other award winners and guest speakers.  They discussed "big questions" generated by each of them, led by a Ph.D. neuroscientist from England who studies consciousness.  

During the gala, she had the opportunity to meet business leaders and educators, including the founder of the Tribeca film festival, a theater critic, Broadway actor currently starring in "To Kill a Mockingbird", and a human rights activist working with women in Afghanistan.  These leaders were very engaged in learning about what the kids thought, and what their dreams were and discussed important topics with each other and adult guest speakers.

Congratulations, Hannah!  Your efforts are in perfect alignment with the vision of St. Mary’s Academy to help students become global citizens who work for justice and act in peace.

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Iswari Natarajan Interviewed by Hill.TV as Part of Powered by STEM Series
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High School principal Iswari Natarajan was recently interviewed by Hill.TV as part of their series, “Powered by STEM”.  The series focuses on players in the world of science, technology, and education and their ideas about how to get more women interested and integrated into STEM fields.

Iswari noted that the gift of education created her own love for STEM.  In turn, she focuses her teaching efforts beyond the subject content stating that it is not about the actual test scores but about having fun and making connections. She makes sure students know that it is okay when things are challenging stating, “it is okay to be perfectly imperfect”.  Iswari stresses the importance of giving students permission to fail and teaching them that when they encounter discomfort that is where the learning happens!  

In this interview, Iswari explains that there is so much pressure on students to perform at a high level but SMA pivots to teach them grit and tenacity which is so much more valuable than aptitude and talent.

The new High School internship program for 11th-grade students, launched in spring, 2019, allows SMA students to expand their learning outside the classroom.  It expands their view of STEM and other fields and sparks interest in future careers. One SMA graduate who recently graduated from college and is now working in a STEM field stated, “I am ready to change the world in a hard hat and heels!” This is a shining example of the St. Mary’s Academy’s vision of “Inspiring leaders to act with integrity, seek justice, build community, and change the world”.

To view the full interview, click HERE.

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