This month’s Alumni News will be brief with five profiles below.
I want to highlight, nonetheless, how delighted we are to have graduates, including Mr. Barrant, working at our School. If you or your talented classmates are interested in returning to St. Croix to work at Good Hope Country Day School to help us provide a world-class education for our students, please let us know! Send an email with your resume to my executive assistant, Ms. Annie Myrvang, GHS ’09 (email@example.com), so that we have it on file should any opportunities arise.
We look forward to sharing more content in November!
Mary Jane Provost, former GHS Math Teacher, Director of Upper School & College Counselor 1989-2003 (as told by Laurie Schill, GHS & GHCDS Faculty and long-time friend)
Mary Jane Provost may have come to St. Croix just before hurricane Hugo, but her effect was quite the opposite! She motivated everyone, particularly those at Good Hope School, to be positive, productive, constructive, respectful and caring. What a crazy year to start a new job, and in spite of that, how great she was at getting down to the nitty-gritty of what is most important to our community.
I remember our regular informal exchanges every morning where she would manage, with just a few words, to give me any extra impetus I might have needed to tackle the challenges of the day. Even when I had to discuss a particularly difficult issue with her, I was always able to leave those meetings feeling empowered with the confidence and support for whatever strategy I chose. Ms. Provost was always wonderfully supportive of professional development and the trips I organized with students. When she left GHS in 2003, she was sorely missed by everyone in that community, not just as a math teacher, college counselor and great administrator, but simply as an inspiringly great human being. UVI was so lucky to have her next!
Mary Jane has, of course, had many different work experiences before coming to St. Croix 27 years ago, such as in the prison ministries in New York and Florida, and as a teacher and civil servant in Zambia. With such a background, it is not surprising that she continues to give to the community. She now helps the Women’s Coalition and CASA, serving as an advocate for victims of domestic violence. What a great example of how rewarding hard work can be.
Even if I don’t always have time to chat with Ms. Provost, it is a comfort that she is here at GHCDS. We are truly fortunate to have her among us.
What year did you start at the school?
I started teaching Math 9-12 at Good Hope School in Aug 1989, three weeks before Hugo.
What are your fondest memories of the school?
My fondest memories are of the interaction of high school students with younger children, as mentors, coaches, and friends.
What were your biggest challenges?
Between teaching several math preps, being director of upper school, and college counselor, finding enough time to meet individually with faculty and students was a great challenge.
What student work are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the students who worked with me and Ms. Green and Ms. Schill after school for three years as mentors to at risk sixth graders from Alexander Henderson Elementary School on the Good Hope campus.
Whom among your colleagues did you most admire and why?
I greatly admired Sarah Otis, who was the director of lower school, because of her vision for early childhood education and her compassion for her students.
What was your favorite event on the school calendar and why?
My favorite was the first day of school because it is so full of hope for the future and the camaraderie of seeing old friends. When I retired, it was the event I missed most.
What led you to the school in the first place? (What was your career path?)
When my husband interviewed for his position at UVI, I interviewed at three schools on St. Croix: GHS, CDS, and St. Dunstan’s. I was subsequently offered a position at all three. I chose Good Hope because I observed children there who seemed excited about learning and I felt a strong affinity with the head of school, Tanya Nichols. I never regretted my choice.
What are you doing nowadays?
I am teaching part-time at GHCDS and doing volunteer work for CASA and WCSC.
Leslie Highfield, CDS ’88, remembers her first day at Country Day School in the 9th Grade. She remembers feeling nervous about not only beginning high school, but also attending a brand new school. What struck her most was how welcoming and friendly everyone was. She felt right at home before Advisory even began. She loved being a Country Day student from that moment forward. Her fondest memories are the friendships she formed and the love she had for her teachers. Leslie felt cared for at Country Day, by the Administration, the teachers, and the custodial staff –everyone! Country Day School was her family.
Barbara Hatch, John Hatch, Roger Summerhayes, Kathleen Washington, Betty Nielsen, Paul Draper, Ken Van Buren were the faculty and staff that she admired most. She loved attending their classes (even science – her most challenging class) because they were taught by such interesting people from a variety of fascinating backgrounds. She is so grateful for them!
Leslie says she found it hard to decide between Mini-Gusto and Orange & White Day as her favorite event on the school calendar. She loved the variety of activities and experiences that Mini-Gusto provided and Orange & White Day was just pure FUN. These are two of the many things that made Country Day unique and she can’t imagine her time at CDS without them.
Leslie lives her life much like she did during her time at Country Day. She loves to try new things and has had a variety of career experiences. After graduating from Middlebury College, she became a boutique manager in Boston, a Dance instructor, the Christiansted Administrator (youngest person and first woman to be appointed to that position), Promotions & Events Coordinator at Sunny Isle Shopping Center, News Channel 8 Anchor, and Upper School Social Studies teacher at Country Day. Each experience was impactful and being a part of the Country Day faculty was at the top of her list.
Today, Leslie spends her time between her two great passions, theater and service/transformational work. Having spent most of her life involved in Community Theater as a performer (Island Center & CCT), she naturally transitioned her talent to the stage at The Delray Beach Playhouse in Florida. Leslie also spends some time every year in Lourdes, France doing service work at the Sanctuary and has recently become a member of the Hospitalite de Notre Dame de Lourdes, the international volunteer service organization that operates the sanctuary. (Her students will remember that she started going to Lourdes with the Order of Malta). Leslie is part of the management team at Gratitude Training, a Florida-based company that does transformational work. Being a part of Gratitude Training and teaching at Country Day have been by far her most rewarding career experiences because of the difference she was able to make in people’s lives.
St. Croix is a diverse, special place with a unique charm, culture, and sense of community. St. Croix is and has been home to some of the most interesting and memorable people you’ll find anywhere, and Leslie believes this to be true of County Day School as well. Growing up on St. Croix and attending Country Day instilled in Leslie a love of culture, diversity, and a desire to learn and experience everything in this life.
Maurice Barrant, GHS ’81, is currently a Computer Science teacher and Technology Coordinator at Good Hope Country Day School. Maurice says it was an honor to graduate from GHS as one of the first 14-year veterans and also valedictorian. It was a double honor to receive the Headmaster’s Award for Service.
“Being the first GHS student to attend M.I.T. was both challenging and rewarding,” Barrant shared. “GHS had prepared me well and allowed me to compete with classmates from the top 10% of the US and the world.”
After graduating from M.I.T. with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, he was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Air Force. His first assignment was being the F-16C Computer Systems Engineer stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. The F-16C was the first fly-by-wire jet in the Air Force and has seven on-board computer systems. His unit tested all aspects of the aircraft prior to it being released for production. The computer systems allowed the plane to be one of the most accurate fighters in the fleet. His incentive flight on the F-16D (two-seater) was filled with numerous 4G maneuvers and he appreciated his decision to become an engineer instead of a pilot.
His next assignment was Chief Engineer of the Air-to-Air Weapons Systems Evaluation Program. There he analyzed and evaluated thousands of short and medium range air-to-air missile firings by all types of aircraft determining critical factors in its success or failure. This was a fast-paced environment full of technical challenges and dynamic scenarios.
After the Air Force, he got married and then returned to school earning an M.S. in Computer Science at Northeastern University. There he focused on parallel algorithms and parallel processing and eventually becoming a software engineer in high tech, telecommunications, and financial industries. He progressed from there into database administration handling the many facets including high performance, high availability, disaster recovery, capacity planning, data architecture, data recovery, data replication, data security, etc.
Life was good until he got the itch to go back to school and become a mid-career teacher. He then received a M.Ed. from Harvard University. After spending four years in the Boston Public Schools, he decided to return to St. Croix. His only regret is that he didn’t move before he had over 100 inches of snow!
Posted by Alex Sopp, CDS ’01 recently on her Facebook page:
I was describing my elementary and middle school experience at St. Croix Country Day School to someone just the other day, and while I knew even then how lucky I was, hearing my words and stories and being 20 years older nearly knocked the wind out of me. I loved school so much. But who wouldn’t love school if they got to do a fully staged production of Hamlet in an old Danish mill while studying Shakespeare? Or participating in a human chess match on a special Friday when there was a full-fledged Renaissance Fair? Or what about when learning about Ancient Greece, having a day where everybody dressed up in togas and participated in the Olympics? (Incidentally, I didn’t participate in the sporting events, but instead got to play the role of the Oracle of Delphi, where I went full character actor and used an insane voice and told my classmates and teachers their futures and was allowed and encouraged to be a weirdo) It goes on and on – the Oregon Trail simulation, our produced infomercials to get people to join the Continental Army when studying American History…this all sounds so fun that I wouldn’t mind going back to 6th Grade right now! And then there was Mini Gusto! A week when you didn’t have to go to school but instead went to WORK or deep into learning something extracurricular! I got to assist a homeopathic veterinarian one year, and spent another year with an old Nikon in a dark room. I just want to say wow, and thank you to all the teachers who went above and beyond, and amen to that magical school for thinking outside the box, and yes, yes, yes to my getting to be there during that time.
These days you can find Alex playing flute in New York City with three different musical companies, The Knights, NOW Ensemble, and yMusic. She also has studio space at MadArts in Brooklyn, stop in and check out what this inspired artist is up to!
Andrea Finch, GHS ’05, knew from a young age that she wanted to pursue a career in the arts and have a meaningful impact in her community. After graduating as valedictorian from GHS, Andrea attended the University of Pennsylvania where she graduated magna cum laude with a BA in History and Fine Arts. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Art Therapy from George Washington University and is currently a licensed mental health therapist and certified art therapist.
Andrea has spent the past three years working in an outpatient program for adult survivors of childhood trauma, abuse, and neglect in Washington, DC. Andrea recently re-located to Philadelphia with her husband where she is providing art therapy and counseling in private practice. Andrea tries to make time to create her own art and has participated several times in the annual Caribbean Fine Art Exhibit at GHS. She is also in the process of starting her own business, making custom Ketubahs and other personalized art pieces.
Andrea has many fond memories from her more than 15 years at GHS and East End GHS: beach walks in lower school, class trips to St. John and Puerto Rico, science fair projects, finding lost baby turtles around campus and helping them back to the ocean, building sets and doing stage crew for fall dramas and spring musicals, volunteering at local non-profits, and putting on her own art exhibit through her senior project. Some of Andrea’s favorite teachers include Ms. Thomas, Ms. O’Donell, Mr. Washburn, and Mr. DeGroat. Andrea is particularly grateful for Ms. Biddle, who introduced her to oil painting, helped her develop her creativity and artistic skills, worked with her to set up an independent study AP Art class, and encouraged her to pursue a career in the arts. Andrea reflected, “Good Hope felt like family. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to go to a small school that values community, diversity, and well-rounded, experience-based learning. I made lifelong friends and mentors who continue to support me and encourage me to never give up on my dreams.”
As we strive to provide a world-class education, it is critical that we attract the best and brightest to join our faculty and staff. Graduates of The Good Hope School, Country Day School, and Good Hope Country Day School are a wonderful source of talented candidates. If you are interested in joining our faculty, please email your resume to Ms. Annie Myrvang, firstname.lastname@example.org. We will definitely contact you should openings arise.
In the meantime, be sure to check the employment page of our website for any openings (click here). We are currently seeking a Middle School Math Teacher for January 2017 (job-description-middle-school-math-2).
Are you interested in teaching or working with students? If so, we welcome the opportunity to have you spend 1+ weeks as an intern (unpaid) at our school while you are back on St. Croix. This can be a wonderful win-win: you get excellent real-world experience and feedback, we get additional great brains and hands! This is not a set program—we would try to create it around your availability and interests. If you would like to participate, please email your resume and a cover letter to Ms. Annie Myrvang (email@example.com).
To expand our alumni content, we need great writers! If you would be interested in writing stories about alumni-related topics or interviewing alumni to create interesting profiles, please contact Ms. Linda Stamper-Keularts (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can collaborate from anywhere, provide you are digitally connected.
Last year we held GHCDS alumni receptions in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. This year we are seeking to hold a reception in Miami in November-December and in New York City in late January-early February. If you have access in either city to a cool space for an alumni gathering of 20-30 people, please contact Ms. Kiomie Pedrini (email@example.com).