The First-grade instructional program at Villa Maria Academy Lower School is committed to helping each…
1. What is your greatest memory from your days at Villa?
One of my many favorite memories at Villa would have to be the Big Sister Little Sister program. I loved both sides of this experience. As a young student having that ‘Big Sister’ and friend to look up to was awesome. In acting as a big sister I learned how to be a leader and had so much fun mentoring a younger student. It is certainly something I looked forward to since kindergarten. Working at Villa in my adult years, I loved this tradition even more because I was able to see how much more they do together now!
2. Who were your closest friends at Villa?
This is a tough one as our class was friendly with everyone. I would have to say I connected and spent most of the time outside school with Ellen Cannon, Kelsey Gula, Koury Thomas, Alexis Shafer, Margo Duey, Monica Kuroki, and Sarah Ryan. I am still connected with many of the young women in my 06 class. Even today when I see girls who weren’t necessary my closest of friends we seem to pick up where we left off excited to hear where and what everyone is up to!
3. What activities were you involved in during school (at Villa and outside of school–a job, volunteering, etc.)?
While at Villa I played soccer, basketball and lacrosse. I also was very involved in the chorus and handbells. One of my fond community service memories at Villa was our weekly visits to the sisters at Camilla Hall. Those times with the IHM Sisters have always stuck with me. Now when I look back on those days, I know not only was I putting smiles on their faces, but they left a permanent mark on my heart. Within school we also had many community service opportunities that remain today. I also enjoyed working at my family’s restaurant on the weekends and through the summer.
4. Which teacher/administrator/coach at Villa had the greatest impact on your life and why?
This is a tough one as well, as I feel there were so many inspirational teachers, administrators, and coaches during my time as a student at Villa. I would have to say one of the teachers who left an impact on me for life was Mrs. Hay. She was my PE teacher for all my years at Villa. I always loved all the fun activities she had us doing as well as her involvement in my life through sports at Villa. She instilled a love for health and fitness. I eventually went on to earn my bachelor’s degree in K-12 Health and Physical Education as well as Adapted PE.
I must also mention Sister Carmen and Sister Mary Ellen, as I believe they created my strong foundation in faith. They both helped to instill the values of creative hope, love, and fidelity on my heart and mind. Sister Carmen was my 2nd grade teacher and Sister Mary Ellen was my principal through middle school. Sister Carmen sparked my love for our faith with my First Holy Communion, which I remember like it was yesterday! Of course the excitement of learning cursive did not hurt either. Sister Mary Ellen helped form me into the women I am today by instilling Villa’s values during the interesting years of middle school. She encouraged and supported me on many occasions to strive to be my best self. Sister Mary Ellen helped me to learn how to lean on God when things get tough and taught me important foundational values I am now beginning to instill in my children.
5. What were your favorite classes?
I was a “specials” girl in elementary school. I loved my PE, art, music, and dance. If I had to pick my favorite core class, I would say Language Arts because I loved to read!
6. If you could go back to your eighth-grade self and give some advice, what would it be?
I know its cliché, but the years really do go fast, so cherish every moment. Don’t look back on this time and wish you had done something differently or tried something new. Enjoy all the friendships and take in all the differences each one of your classmates has and learn from them.
7. What advice do you have for students who plan to pursue a career as a restaurateur?
Go for it! Every day will be different and you certainly will be communicating with lots of different people on a daily basis. Teamwork is super important to ensure a successful environment for all. Teamwork helps to support a positive work environment and experience for your customers. Marketing and presentation of your business will be an important piece to your success. This includes how you and your employees represent themselves both at your establishment and outside of it. Luckily Villa has helped to prepare you for many of these things! Be confident and run with your ideas and dreams, you will make it happen, especially with the right people supporting you!
8. Do you keep in touch with any of your Villa classmates or teachers? Anyone you want to send a shout out to?
Yes, I do keep in touch with some of my classmates and teachers. I would like to give a shout out to the whole class of 2006 and all my teachers and administrators during that time.
9. What was your life path since graduating from VMALS?
Once I graduated in 2006, I continued to Upper Villa. From there I headed to Towson in pre-PT and then ended up at West Chester University. I graduated with my bachelor’s in education for K-12 Health and Physical Education with a minor in Adapted Physical Education in 2014. We traveled around the USA for a few months after graduating before heading back to work at Uncle Bills for the summer. While on our trip, I got engaged to my college love, Ethan, and we were married in 2016. After college, I taught in Great Valley and West Chester Area Schools for a few years before I ended up back at my home, at Villa. In 2018 I had my son, Ethan, and then had my daughter in 2019. I worked as the Admissions Director at Villa for 3+ years until I was expecting Madeleine and decided I had to change my plans. I committed to be a full-time mom and then run my family’s business in the summer months in Wildwood, NJ. Currently, my husband and I run the Wildwood location of Uncle Bills.
10. How did you come to work at VMALS as Director of Admissions? What did you like about this job? What were the challenges?
The Director of Admissions was brought to my attention by my high school basketball coach, mentor, and teacher Kathy McCartney. She reached out to me in the spring/early summer of 2016 telling me she thought it may be a good fit for me. I looked into it and instantly got butterflies about being back at my home, at Villa. I was so excited when I received the job and given the opportunity to recruit and inspire new and current families and faculty why Villa is so amazing! There are many things I loved about the job, but here are a few. I loved meeting new families and walking them through my experience and the current life at Villa during their tours and student visits. I really enjoyed being with the families and helping them through the process by answering any questions they had. I also thoroughly enjoyed working with the IHM Sisters – especially Sister Susan – during my time in Admissions. Also, I loved to facilitate faculty events and prospective student events alongside my team J Villa is all about working as a VILLAge and it certainly showed during my time as both a student and an employee. I think the most challenging thing was trying to find new places to try and find an outlet for new students. Another challenge was trying not to get discouraged when Villa was not necessarily the right fit for the family or the family was not the right fit for Villa. Overall, I loved my time at Villa and miss it everyday!