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#PREPpeople: Wendy Olson
Posted 08/01/2019 05:01PM

One in an occasional series of snapshots spotlighting the people of St. John’s Prep

Assistant Principal for Student Life Wendy Olson

HOMETOWN: Pumpkin Center, N.C.

EDUCATION: East Lincoln High School, Denver N.C.; B.S., Human Services, University of North Carolina Charlotte; M.S., Educational Administration, University of Tennessee


SUBJECT: Assistant Principal for Student Life

FUN FACT: “Let’s see. Most people don’t know that I was Dean of Students the first two years I worked here. Pumpkin Center is in very rural North Carolina, and there are no pumpkins in Pumpkin Center. Also, I’m trying to tick off visits to all 50 states. I’ve been to 33 now, and we’d love the next family road trip to cover Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas.”

DESCRIBE A TEACHER WHO INSPIRED YOU GROWING UP: “My high school science teacher, Ms. Godfrey, was the first teacher I had who went above and beyond. She would stay after school and stuck with you until you ‘got it.’ Even in my first year of college, when I was a biology and chemistry major, she would meet with me and help me with my college coursework. In graduate school, my advisor Dr. Norma Mertz, was just amazing. I earned a C on the first paper I wrote for her, so I went to talk to her. She knew I was a better writer than I’d demonstrated. She gave me the confidence I needed and reminded me that I had worked hard, and I did deserve to be there.”

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WORK AT A SCHOOL FOR A LIVING?: “At University of Tennessee, I was a resident assistant (RA). I love people—ultimately that was what made me switch from biology and chemistry to human services as a major. I love learning about people, figuring people out, and connecting people.”

WHAT EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE OF ST. JOHN’S INFORMS YOUR WORK WITH STUDENTS AT THE PREP?: “Before I even knew what the concept of ‘retention’ was in a school, I was already doing that by being an RA. My job as an RA was to connect students with other classmates and adults and make sure that they felt a sense of belonging at UNCC. My job was to build a community, to engage students, and to help them have the best experience possible.”

WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE EVERY DAY?: “Every day is different. Every student is different. And I love building relationships. I enjoy the relationships you’re building in the moment, but the exciting part is that you have no idea how they’ll develop over the years. I love that at St. John’s, our door is always wide open. Once a student graduates, your relationship with them doesn’t just stop. This is a community that you will always belong to, which will always be here for you if you need us.”

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