I have written several Quicklinks letters, but I can easily say that this one will be the most difficult. This will be my last letter, and I hope I can express my extreme gratitude fully to this community.
Fifteen years ago, I walked into Ursuline as a nervous Social Studies teacher. I was blessed with incredible students, helpful colleagues, supportive parents, and amazing mentors. Leaders at Ursuline consistently had faith in me and led me down a career path that I never expected. All I knew for sure was that I loved the girls and I loved Ursuline.
Eight years ago, I was given the opportunity to be the Dean of Students. Reflecting on my first year as Dean of Students often makes me smile because during that year Preston, my son, was born. Being a first-year administrator has its challenges and doing that while pregnant was, I’ll just say, interesting! But I knew I could lean on this community to help when needed and I learned so much in those first few years. My goal from the beginning, was to make the Dean of Students Office not just a place where students went when they got in trouble. I wanted to make sure they knew that high expectations and accountability would make them better and stronger young women. I wanted our office to focus on Jesus and how He taught and led people – with truth and love.
I believe to be a successful leader you have to build trust. I knew to do that, people had to get to know me. It isn’t always easy for me to share things about myself, but over time, in my Quicklinks letters, I started opening up more about my beliefs, my values, my faith, and my love for the Lord. I received so many thoughtful and kind responses and I regret that I didn’t open up sooner. I should have always trusted that Jesus can better any relationship and any community.
As you know, I have loved sharing books, podcasts, and articles with you. Most of the time I would read books that I thought could benefit our students, but I also learned so much on how I want to raise Preston. I do believe that working in this position has made me a better mom. Not just because of what I read but because of the parents I have gotten to know. I often ask parents, “How have you raised such an amazing young woman? I will take all the advice I can get!” As Preston has gotten older, he has spent lots of time in the Ursuline halls and some of my best memories are watching him with our students. Everyone showered him love and kindness. Plus, how many kids can say that they have sat in a DeLorean!?!? (Thank you, Class of 2022 Intramural Video Committee)
I am a person who always likes to look ahead, and things have been progressing quickly in my office! I want to share something special with you about Mandy Briones, who will be the new Dean of Students. I recently received a letter from one of our seniors about Mandy. She writes:
Mrs. Briones embodies the Ursuline mission, and it was through her that I molded into the mission as well. She is beautiful, inside, and out. Under her wing, I was introduced to the beauty within the school. In the time that I spent with her, she brought out my talents and pushed me to use them for good in my community, whether it be working on Intramurals, empathizing with residents at SRO, or being a witness and sister to other Ursuline students. She showed me the good in myself that I did not believe I had. With Mrs. Briones’ help, I gained a new and appreciative mindset. What I once saw as mundane, I now see as beauty. Beauty in God’s creation because God is the author of each and every one of our lives, I believe he makes no mistakes. It is in His will, that we will succeed in life. I believe that God placed Mrs. Briones in my life by no accident. He gave her to me as an angel to save me. Save me from my sadness, worries, doubts, and anger. He gave her to me to see the beauty in loving the world and appreciate it because we are only given one chance at life.
I am not ashamed to say that I cried when I read this. Your daughters are in amazing hands! Mandy is a faith-filled, Christ-centered, mission-focused leader and I can’t wait to see all she accomplishes for the school and for the Lord.
One last thing you may not know about me is that I like when things finish nicely. I like when the ending of movies are happy ones, with a nice little bow, wrapped up perfectly, happily ever after. As the Class of 2022 graduates - the class I have been an advisor with for the past four years - I can’t help but think my time at Ursuline is ending with a nice little bow. I am finishing my 15th year and I feel like I am graduating with them, but please know that leaving Ursuline is the definition of bittersweet.
I don’t think I will ever be able to say thank you enough. I have been in complete awe of this community and have loved getting to know you and your daughters. Ursuline has been a home for me and will always have a very big piece of my heart. I know Jesus was with me and guiding me every day at Ursuline and I know He is guiding your daughters.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Dean of Students