Tag Archives: Mr. Norton

Looking ahead to The Mount of the future

The Mount of yesteryear is certainly different from The Mount of today, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the dedication of the faculty to the growth of the young men in their care.

Mount Saint Joseph has always prided itself in having a strong administration. The administration prides itself on not just being the heads of the school, but also being called to teach classes while fulfilling their duties as administrators. Mr. Rob Peace and Mr. George Andrews are two teachers that I have been lucky enough to have for classes during my time at St. Joe. What I have learned from my experiences with them, is that they have a passion for the students, and the school.

Mount Saint Joseph, just like has any other school, has to have a strong administration for succeed. Before the school year, Mr. David Norton, principal of The Mount, retired. This presented a challenge for the administration. School president, Mr. George Andrews, took charge. Mr. Andrews has grown up around Xaverian education. He went to St. Mary’s Ryken, and previously taught at Mount St. Joe before becoming president of the school, and he has such a passion for The Mount. In the interim, while searching for a new principal, he offered to take over the principal position. Mr. Andrews now has to manage an Honors Modern America Class, and two significant administration positions. Mr. Rob Peace also has been involved in Xaverian education for a large portion of his life. He comes from North Carolina, and his wife’s great uncle was a Xaverian Brother. Both Mr. Andrews and Mr. Peace, are strong believers in the power of Xaverian education.

Left to right
Mr. Sam Bianco (Director of Students), Mr. David Norton (Retired Principal), Mr. Robert Peace (Director of Staff Formation), Mr. George Andrews (President and interim Principal), Mr. Greg McDivitt (Director of Studies)

While Mr. Peace and Mr. Andrews are the only administrative members who aren’t alumni of The Mount, they came to the school for many reasons. They both talk about the school as if they are alumni. Both hailing from Catholic backgrounds, they both arrived at the school nervous, but ready for a challenge.

Ms. Judy Kraft, former teacher & administrator.

For students today, Ms. Judy Kraft is a name they may hear a lot, even though she is no longer with the school community. She held the position of Assistant Principal and Director of Faculty Formation from 1998 until 2010. Ms. Kraft returned to teach in the Theology department until her death in 2011. Currently, Mr. Peace holds the same position that Ms. Kraft held for so many years. When asked about her impact, Mr. Peace’s face lit up as he talked about her.

“She was very compassionate to me with the Xaverian Education.”

Mr. Rob Peace, speaking about the influence of Ms. Judy Kraft.

She taught Mr. Peace the ways of St. Joe and how to foster a community of “care and concern for the boys.” Mr. Peace learned a lot about what it meant to manage a diverse faculty and staff, and to develop a Xaverian spirit of trust, from Ms. Kraft. Now in his 10th year as Assistant Principal, when talking about his teachers, Mr. Peace, like Ms. Kraft before him, is extremely positive about his staff.

We’ve got the best teachers in the state of Maryland because they know their content area, and they are able to make themselves better and improve their content area. They will always go the extra mile to help them grow. They believe in the mission of the school. There are always alums who want to come back and thank their teachers.”

Mr. Rob Peace, speaking positively about The Mount’s teaching staff.

Mr. Andrews came to the Mount in 1987, and as he started to teach history he began feeling passionately about the school, eventually falling in love with the school and the goals that they are trying to accomplish. Over the course of his career, he has gone from teaching, coaching, and running student council, to becoming the face of St. Joe as its president. He was so impacted by his experience being around the Xaverian Brothers, as a student at Ryken High School (now St. Mary’s Ryken), that he wanted to have that same impact on students, faculty, and staff today.

“My connection to the Xaverian Brothers and what they did for me, I want to see the Mount doing the same that they did for me.”

Mr. George Andrews, President of Mount Saint Joseph High School.

When Mr. David Norton retired prior to the start of the school year, Mr. Andrews took charge and decided to run two main office positions, President and Principal. He told me it’s going very well, but he always has to have his game face on. Both he and Mr.Peace talked about how good the staff is here, and how experienced they are. Mr. Andrews called them, “a band of brothers and sisters.” Mr. Andrews goes to every reunion and is able to see the impact the Mount has made on graduates, as well as seeing how they have thrived because of their experience. Mr. Peace also talked positively about seeing alumni returning to the school to visit the teachers. Mr. Andrews agrees with the sentiment that so many alumni believe, that graduation from the Mount is truly a “memory that will last a life time.”

“Our goal is to develop men who matter and what we do really works.”

School President and Interim Principal, Mr. George Andrews

Both Mr. Andrews and Mr. Peace love teaching, and the students they impact. Mr. Andrews teaches a Junior Honors American History class and Mr. Peace teaches a Freshman Theology class. Both of them enjoy interacting with students and being more than just an administrator. Both are heavily involved with the process of hiring new teachers. They both consider teaching an art, and they want to make sure that all hired teachers buy in to the mission of the school.

“Know your stuff, got to like kids, and be able to see teaching as an art.”

Mr. George Andrews speaking about the teaching profession.

Both teachers talked highly about the environment here, but when they came to MSJ, just like most students, they were a bit unsure of their surroundings, but ready to work. They both believe in the mission. And they, along with the rest of the administration, are passionate advocates for Mount St. Joe, its mission and values.

Mr. Andrews getting inducted to the St. Mary’s Ryken, athletic ring of honor.

When looking to the future of the Mount both talked about continuing the Xaverian Values. According to both Mr. Andrews and Mr. Peace, being an educator 20 years ago is very different then the way information is conveyed today. The Mount’s founding brothers started off with one student, today they have over 900 students, all with different needs and strengths, many who had relatives that attended the Mount previously. Mr. Andrew’s believes the founding brothers would be astonished by how much the school has grown and developed over the past 143 years. Teaching today is 21st century based, leaving behind the chalk and chalk board to iPads and a reliance on education technology. The brotherhood still exists, the mission still being spread. If you have all of those things, Mount Saint Joseph will continue to be a home for young men for years to come.

Andrew Sheppard is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class, and a member of The Quill.

Snow day? Who makes the call?

Here I am, watching the snow fall and checking my phone just waiting to see if we will have the day off or if school is delayed. Waiting. Waiting…Of course, I would love having a relaxing day off, but I never know what factors play into the decision besides if there was snow on the ground or not. Recently, I had the chance to sit down with our principal, Mr. David Norton, and talk about the protocol and procedure when it comes to delaying and closing school for inclement weather. During my freshman year, we followed Baltimore County for all weather related decisions. Keep in mind this included not only winter weather, but weather for all seasons, such as days where it may have been too hot for students to be in school without air conditioning. However, MSJ now makes weather related decisions independently after deliberation between a group of administration and faculty.

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When is snows, who makes the call? Students have been wondering that for a few years now, since MSJ became independent with inclement weather calls.

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Mr. David L. Norton, The Principal of Mount Saint Joseph High School

Mr. Norton’s morning starts around 4:30 a.m. when he receives his first phone call with updates on what mother nature has brought us overnight and what we should be expecting further. Mr. Dan Peddicord, the Director of Facilities, is the first one to start checking any announcements from the counties and their weather conditions. He also finds out what the conditions on campus are like. When it comes to our campus conditions, MSJ used to be salted, plowed, and shoveled all by our own facilities staff, but that is now done by a private company. From there, Mr. Norton talks with other members of faculty and staff who are spread out across our area and ask them what the weather is doing there and what the roads are looking like. He also receives early notifications from Howard County through his wife, who works with HCPSS. Mr. Norton is responsible for making the decision on what the school day will be regarding students. Mr. Andrews makes the call for the rest of the staff and faculty.

During my interview with Mr. Norton I was surprised when he told me that, “for the most part we follow Baltimore County…we won’t go against that.” If you remember, however, a few weeks ago Baltimore County was initially delayed and then closed, yet we stayed open. Mr. Norton told me that he had already called for the two-hour delay and gave the okay for the busses to go out, which has to be done by 7:30 if we are already two hours late. This was followed by Baltimore County closing. Howard County remained open that day and Anne Arundel County had practically zero snow or ice at all. Those two counties account for about 50% of our student population, and Mr. Norton felt comfortable staying open. This was evidently the correct decision because only about 10% of students missed school that day and we saved a snow day.

Those two counties [Howard & Anne Arundel] account for about 50% of our student population.

If we don’t usually go against Baltimore County, why did we ever go independent? Some upperclassmen may remember two years ago we, and the county, closed for a snow day and our indoor track team was forced to miss championships in which they were favored to win. According to Baltimore County’s policy, if school is closed, all after-school activities are automatically cancelled. Being independent gives us the ability to reassess the situation closer to the evening and make our own call. Earlier this winter we got snow during the day while we were at school, and Mr. Norton made the decision to let us out at 12:30. Basketball was scheduled to play that night against Loyola for senior night. If we still followed BCPS, that game would’ve been automatically cancelled, but since we are now independent, it gave us the chance to see what conditions were like closer to game time and it was ultimately played.

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The statue of St. Joseph covered in snow during a recently delayed school day.

With that being said, in situations where a student or his parents feel as though it is unsafe to come to school when we have chosen to stay open, they have the ability to make the final decision, and Mr. Norton said, “I will support that. That is a safety decision, and we will honor that.”

Going independent also allows us to make decisions on our own regarding warm weather, as I previously said. Many schools in Baltimore County don’t have air conditioning, and before last school year, we didn’t either in St. Joseph’s Hall. All buildings are now air conditioned, and it would make no sense for us to follow BCPS on those warm weather days.

Lastly, I asked Mr. Norton if he enjoys his snow days. He responded with “I do, except for when we use up all of our snow days.” He mentioned that St. Joseph’s day will be the first day to be removed and Holy Thursday is most likely after that if we continue to use up snow days. Mr. Norton also wanted me to remind students that if we do have school and you’re driving in, please slow down. Just because we have school does not mean the roads are not wet or have patches of ice. Add time to your drive on delayed days. Slow down guys, take your time.

We’ll see you at school.

img_0387Greg Keidel is a senior and a member of The Quill.