Tell me about your affiliation to Christian Brothers.
We are parents of two sons who are Christian Brothers graduates. Previously, we were next-door neighbors to the Nolan family, who had four kids attend CB. We watched all of them, especially the older ones, march off to school every morning and enjoyed hearing about their many experiences. That was our first introduction to the school.
How did you decide on CB?
We didn’t tell our kids, “You’re going to CB!” Frankly, we wondered if the school would be a good fit as we aren’t Catholic. But our eldest really wanted to go to CB, and with the Nolan’s supporting his decision all the way, he was all in. And so were we.
What was the experience like for your boys?
They loved it. Both boys played soccer and swam, so we were at sporting events often with them. Although neither was what you would call a serious scholar when they entered CB, they both grew as students, buckling down and developing study skills that set them firmly on the college path. The friends they made at school were dear and lifelong, as were the relationships they established with many of their teachers.
When you talk with people about CB, a word that often comes up is community. I remember feeling it as a parent and used to wonder if it was because the school was coeducational. That may be part of it, however, it wasn’t until later that I became more involved as a member of the Board of Trustees that I learned just how intentional this community is. This school is built on a three-century tradition of educators whose sole purpose is to touch the hearts and minds of students. The Brothers have done a phenomenal job of providing formation to faculty and staff to ensure a deep understanding of the sacred responsibility they hold in educating young people and supporting them as they find and foster their God-given talents.
And so, when Susan and I would attend Back-to-School Night, we felt like we, ourselves, wanted to go back to school here because the teachers were so upbeat, so happy to see you, and knew who your child was. It makes you feel, “Wow, this is worth every penny. You can’t spend your money in a better way than to make such an impact at such an important time in the lives of young people.”
And, of course, we heard the stories from other parents, “CB made it so much easier for them in college.” Both of our sons made it through their four years at St. Mary’s College, did very well, and gained a lot of confidence. And we look at their group of friends, who they have to this day. Susan and I are forever grateful for the education and formation that our sons received at CB.
Were there any key events or memories that were special over the eight years you were here?
For me, it was the family dances. At first, they’re embarrassed to take you. But their other friends are doing it, and then you go to the dance, and the kids have so much fun with their friends and their families! Those were really special, and we’ll cherish those memories forever.
When our eldest was here, they started the Kairos retreats for seniors. He said it was life changing. Because of his experience at the retreat, sharing it with some of his friends, he had more of a faith connection. Our youngest had less of that until he got to
CB. We didn’t go to church regularly as a family, but he got involved in the retreats as early as he could. And I know he had a breakthrough at Kairos too. It changed him. He returned home and it seemed like something shifted in him. I believe it stays with him to this day.
Are there aspects of your CB experience, from your unique perspective, of which the general public would not be aware?
The difference I saw – being on the Board of Trustees and interacting more – is that the quality of the teaching staff has raised continuously and dramatically. In the nine years of our experience here, there were always good teachers, but there were exceptionally good teachers by the time the boys graduated. And today, it’s unbelievable.
The school’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is unmatched. CB leads the region in need-based tuition assistance to ensure that a Lasallian Catholic education is accessible to families of all income levels. We don’t know of another school in the region that has a tuition assistance program at the level of CB. It’s incredible that nearly 40 percent of the students receive help and full-paying parents help make that happen.
The Brothers have established a system of governance to make sure that the Lasallian Catholic charism remains strong even though religious vocations are declining, and the number of actual Christian Brothers is decreasing. The staff and teachers go through a lot more Lasallian formation now than they ever did before. Collectively, they’re all helping make sure the school holds onto its traditions which is really important to us.
Then there’s the community service aspect. I think that really brings it all back home to the students – what service means and the difference it makes in the lives of the recipients and in the heart of the servant.
We recently had dinner with longtime CB teacher and administrator, Tom English, and he could talk about both our boys – after 20-some years had passed since he taught our eldest. I don’t know of too many teachers who could do that. But that’s the situation at CB – the relationship that is developed between student and teacher.
One of the things you are fortunate to do when you’re chair of the Board of Trustees is to be on stage at graduation and shake the hand of every graduate. When you have an opportunity to see this incredibly united, richly diverse, bright group of young women and men poised to go out and make a difference in the world, you really see all that is possible!
If you had a vision of where CB is headed, what would you think that would be?
CB’s Lasallian tradition goes back more than 300 years. The foundation of it is built to last. So long as the school holds on to its Lasallian Catholic charism and continues to focus the Lasallian Core Principles of faith, quality education, diversity, inclusion, and service, Christian Brothers will continue to make a difference in the lives of students and families for generations to come.