Posted on December 15, 2012 · Posted in Blog, Question and Answer

You and your family have a rich history on the Southwest side of Chicago and at St. Laurence (StL). What do you believe were the most valuable aspects of your StL experience?

I was born and raised in Garfield Ridge near Midway Airport, the son of two Chicago Police Officers.  My entire family graduated from Chicago Catholic League schools and my uncle, brother and cousins are all proud StL graduates.  My wife and I now have three children, two of whom are at St. Daniel the Prophet in Chicago.
While I was given the freedom to choose which high school I would attend, St. Laurence just felt right. The curriculum and faculty challenged me academically to continually strive for my best, while providing me with a true sense of community. Spiritually, experiences like the Christian Kairos retreat helped me deepen both my faith and the connection to my StL family.

Outside the classroom, I wrestled, played baseball and football. Sports gave me the opportunity to be part of a cohesive team and build my self-confidence. Today, an amazing 70% of our students participate in one of our 14 sports and nearly 50% of our athletes play more than one sport.

After graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, you were an officer in the Army for nine years. How has your military experience help prepare you to lead StL?

After West Point, I was sent to Fort Rucker to learn to fly helicopters.  I was stationed in Germany and later deployed to Afghanistan where I saw combat and had to handle stressful, dangerous situations, like when my helicopter was shot down and took enemy fire. Learning to remain calm, assess the situation and make decisive calls in high-pressure situations is something that lends itself to a lot of scenarios in civilian life.

After returning to the U.S., I was an Assistant Professor of Military Science at University of Illinois at Chicago as well as the Recruiting Commander for the Army here in Chicago. Each experience helped me develop and hone different leadership skills and discover my passion for youth development. I think there are a lot of similarities between the structure, high expectations and standards of a Catholic education and the military.

How is StL evolving to meet the needs of parents, students and the changing global economy?

We have a unique opportunity for students called The Leadership Academy. I believe making leadership a formal part of the curriculum is essential. Teaching our kids goal setting, time and stress management, active listening and effective communications are skills they will use throughout college, their careers and everyday life.

I also think it’s our responsibility as educators to help students prepare for an ever-changing global marketplace. Building on the nationally renowned STEM approach to education, we are introducing StL STEM this year, which stands for Spirituality, Leadership, Science, Technology, English and Math. Both the Leadership Academy and StL STEM are in support of our school mantra, “Where Leadership Begins.”