Parent Tributes

List of 3 items.

  • Cindy Ruff

    I had the wonderful privilege of serving as the St. Mary’s Board of Trustees Chairman from 2005-2008. Working with the leadership team of Scott Laird and Father Dennis Kezar was such a rewarding experience and one of the best of my life. I learned all about the “inside track” of St. Mary’s – all of the things that go on behind the scenes.

    I learned about how each child is cared for and loved by teachers and administrators. I learned that all St. Mary’s employees know each and every child. I learned that each child’s uniqueness and special qualities are considered when various decisions are made. I learned about the study and care that goes into every decision regarding curriculum and teacher choices or changes. I learned that the school administration team meets weekly to discuss events of the previous week and work on improvements and enhancements for the following week. I learned that the School and School families surround and support other families during times of crisis or need. I learned that most of my best friends are St. Mary’s moms and dads. I learned that my daughters will graduate from St. Mary’s with all of the tools to excel and be successful in any high school program. I learned the feeling of love and community each time I entered the school campus. These are but a drop in the bucket of all the things I learned during my time as Board Chair. I feel so lucky to know the hard work that goes into making the magic of St. Mary’s.

    Headmaster Laird and Father Kezar set the tone of community and leadership at St. Mary’s but they are supported by many other leaders who serve the School and Church. There is a very strong Board of Trustees which provides supportive oversight of our school. We have an enthusiastic Parents’ Association which enhances so many of our children’s activities. We have a Church Vestry which understands the School is the primary mission of the Church. We have a group of administrators who work together to shepherd 400+ children through elementary and middle school. Last, we have a talented group of teachers who enthusiastically love and teach our children each and every day. The combination creates the community of St. Mary’s and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it all!
  • Mike & Gayle Martin

    With two children now in college, and another on the way in the next year it gives us great perspective on what got us here...and what got us here was St. Mary's. Cameron, Luke and Maddie all had the benefit of walking through the doors of St. Mary's as preschoolers. Each day of their very young school lives they were greeted by the loving arms of Susan Eaton. That love and support continued to grow as they weaved their way through this wonderful school. Each of our children has their own special gifts. Some are more academic, some more artistic, some more athletic. St. Mary's embraced all of their gifts and helped them grow into the young adults they are today. Not only do we feel blessed to have had that secure and constant environment for them, we feel more than fortunate to know that each and every day our children were being treated with respect and love, open to explore their friendships and faith. That is a gift no amount of money can buy.

    Our children may not be at an age now when they really appreciate the benefit they received by going to St. Mary's from Pre-K through 8th grade, but one day, as they look for a place for their own children to make their way through the educational process, we know they will look back on their own experience and want that for their children as well. It is a precious family memory for the Martins.
  • Peter & Seretha Anderson

    It has truly been a pleasure to have our children attend St Mary’s Episcopal Day School.

    Our daughter Allie enjoyed 10 years of the St Mary’s experience, entering as a shy Pre-K student and leaving as a confident, polite and engaging 8th grader ready to meet the challenges of High School.

    When we asked Allie about the highlights of St. Mary’s it was hard for her to narrow it down, but here are a few she included: The 8th grade Washington D.C. trip, 7th grade trip to the keys, the wide selection of sports from 6th grade up, the letter people in Pre-K, the surprise field trips in 8th grade. We particularly appreciate the quality of the teachers and their commitment to education - the hands on approach to learning as well as opportunities such as participating in the production of the daily Morning Show, Mr. Laird’s Speech class, and the emphasis on public speaking which starts in Pre-K as classes perform in the school assemblies twice a month.

    Our son Jack is in 3rd grade and has learned quickly that this year is about being accountable for their class/home work. We are impressed with Jack’s progress this year. Ms. Roverts sets the bar high in her classroom but with her years of experience is able to do this in a caring and reassuring manner. We feel the school has done a great job in fostering discipline without suppressing enthusiasm and he is truly blossoming academically as well as emotionally.

    My wife and I have had so many wonderful experiences throughout our time at St Mary’s – we couldn’t be more pleased with the investment we have made over these last 11 years.

    In closing, my wife and I feel St. Mary’s Episcopal Day School offers an exceptional, well rounded program. We have enjoyed the 11 years at St. Mary’s School and look forward to another 5 years with our son. We have a lot of wonderful memories and we are eternally grateful to the St. Mary’s team. Thank you!

Student Tributes

List of 10 items.

  • Katherine King ~ International Baccalaureate Program ~ St. Mary’s Class of 2008

    St. Mary’s has it all: rigorous academics, incredible arts, competitive athletics, and a positive outlook on everything. Rather than focusing on the difficulty of the courses, my teachers concentrated on each individual student's understanding of the material. They always encouraged everyone to participate in the class discussion and answered every question thoroughly and honestly. And they stay involved. While I was still at school, they constantly stopped me in the halls just to check in and say hi. And even though I’m gone now, I am welcomed back with open arms every time I drop by St. Mary’s. That sense of family is priceless.

    From Pre-K, St. Mary’s encourages artistic expression. The art teacher, Mrs. Carte, teaches the history and styles and techniques of visual art, while still allowing each student the freedom to explore. Whether we chose to be a musician, a dancer, an actor, or a singer, Mrs. Jungers celebrated each individual talent and presented it in a musical, assembly, or chapel service.

    Our athletics especially showcase the unconditional sportsmanship of our school. While remaining competitive, students learn that showing grace, win or loss, is just as important as any ability to play the game. Everyone is encouraged to try out for a team, and most people do. I gave everything a try, and while I didn’t play every sport well, I was always encouraged by my coaches and teammates. They helped me realize that it’s not always about how talented you are; effort and attitude are more precious than ability here.

    St. Mary’s also makes an effort to show every student what a difference they can make in the world. In my eighth grade year the theme was water, and everyone in the school got involved in an outreach project involving water. Rather than complaining about how much needs to be fixed in the world today, St. Mary’s set to work. We collected rain in rain barrels to conserve water in Tampa, and we donated time, money, and love to help purify water for children in Africa. While helping other people halfway around the world, we inadvertently created a stronger community within our school.

    Public speaking, soccer, creative writing, audio/visual production… at St. Mary’s, these were a part of everyday life, so natural and fun that I didn’t even realize what valuable skills I had acquired. But that’s just the magic of St. Mary’s. This school made me feel secure, even when trying new things. It provided the resources I needed to actually attempt these new skills, and the encouragement to see them through. I am so thankful for the school that helped me shape my life, and I hope that whatever I do with it will make St. Mary’s proud.
  • Noble Fowler ~ Plant High School ~ St. Mary's Class of 2007

    St. Mary's was a positive experience for me because it prepared me well for high school.  When I got to Plant, it was easier for me to succeed than it was for most other kids.  Freshman year at Plant was easy for me coming from St. Mary's and I was able to find time to meet new people and focus on my participation on the basketball team as I acclimated to high school.  St. Mary's also taught me important life skills such as good sportsmanship, respect for teachers, faculty and parents, and the importance of class participation to get the most out of my classes. St. Mary's gave me a great deal of individual attention which helped me stay focused and learn more.  I am grateful for the 10 year experience I had at such an amazing school!
  • Shelby Lopez ~ Northwestern University ~ St. Mary's Class of 2005

    One quality of the individuals at St. Mary's stands out from those of any other school in our area. The members of our "SMEDS" family invest significant faith and trust in one another. As a student, you are fully reassured that each of your peers is rooting for you, one-hundred percent of the time. Whether you're singing solo for the first time in the seventh grade variety show, presenting an analysis of the lives of truckers in Mr. Laird's speech class, or composing a thesis for your eighth grade research paper, every classmate supports your endeavors and hopes for your success. If one is challenged by a subject, the people surrounding him will push him to aim for a higher grade on the next test, not only through light encouragement but by relinquishing their free time to assist him in studying. It's a truly remarkable devotion which is commonly found at this institution. My class at St. Mary's had a particular sense of teamwork and unification through our experiences. Despite significant differences in interests or ambitions, each one of my peers cared for every other member of our class.

    This sense of community and support was instilled into our behavior in large part by the faculty and staff of St. Mary's. Each teacher I came across in my years at the school was wholly devoted to my success. Whether that meant working with me after school hours on a subject with which I was struggling or enthusiastically dealing with the tedious questions I provided, the teachers brought a new light to learning legitimately advanced material--things which, in many cases, I faced again in high school. If an assignment intimidated me, my teacher was there to assure me that I was capable of growing as a student and completing the task—and here's the kicker--well. It wasn't the goal to groom students who could finish every homework assignment or project, but to create students who fully understood the content of the material and could excel when asked to analyze it. Their goals were met, I guarantee.

    These examples of dedication and encouragement to succeed represent the entire "SMEDS" community. Every time I enter the school building, I am delighted by the ability of every person to bring a smile to my face. The inquiries of my whereabouts are always followed by encouragement for my future endeavors. St. Mary's Saints have faith in one another. By placing that faith in me, I gained the confidence necessary to challenge myself in high school and now in college. Every day, I face a new obstacle: something new, something different, something intimidating. Every time I meet this challenge, I think about the people who support me. They always seem to know that I can succeed. Because of them, I do."
  • Megan Wall ~ University of Central Florida ~ St. Mary’s Class of 2005

    As great as my high school years were, my years at St. Mary's, particularly in middle school, are the years I will always remember most. St. Mary's is more than just a school, it is a family. The teachers truly care about every student as an individual. Because they pushed me to my greatest potential academically, I was way ahead of all the students in my classes freshman year in high school. Mrs. Henson required too many essays to count in eighth grade, but the skills I learned from her English class have been invaluable to me ever since.  Outside of the class room, playing sports at St. Mary's helped me to learn to be a member of a winning team, to work with and depend on your friends, and especially to always show good sportsmanship. The class trips we went on in middle school are still some of my most cherished memories. The friends I made at St. Mary's are still my closest friends today. St. Mary's not only gave me the best education I could have asked for, but it gave me the best memories and the best friendships I've ever had.
  • Sam Garrett ~ Stanford University ~ St. Mary's Class of 2004

    I attended St. Mary’s from Kindergarten through 8th grade, and graduated from the International Baccalaureate program at Hillsborough High School. What made my middle school years so important was the advanced nature of the classes, particularly in the math and language programs. When I entered freshman year in IB, I took an Algebra II honors course which isn't usually taken until junior year, but I was familiar with everything introduced in that class because of the rigorous Algebra I program at St. Mary's. The Latin program at St. Mary’s is very advanced, and whether or not one pursues Latin in high school, Latin at St. Mary's provides a solid foundation for understanding of language structure which can be applied to make learning virtually any other language much easier.

    The one history class I’ve had that still stands out to me today is eighth grade American History, where analytical and writing skills are developed that are essential for AP history in high school. In general, what I discovered about many of my classes in high school was that I already knew much about the course content because of my years at St. Mary's.

    But rigorous classwork isn't everything that St. Mary's has to offer. The many trips we went on as a class were also important to me. The main field trips occur during fifth grade and up. The trips that stand out in my mind are the trip to Cedarkirk, the surprise trips, a trip to the Keys to study marine biology, and a trip to Washington D.C. for our American History course. St. Mary’s prepared me well for high school, and for my studies at Stanford University.
  • Alissa Morris ~ University of Virginia ~ St. Mary's Class of 2004

    For the consideration of parents and prospective students, I wholeheartedly endorse St. Mary’s as a foundation for academic, athletic, spiritual, and social growth. I can only attribute the successes that I have achieved thus far in several aspects of my life to the place where I spent my childhood developing into the young adult I am today.

    St. Mary’s instilled in me recognition of the importance and reward of effort and hard work, which I carried throughout my years at Plant High School and is the basis of my work ethic at the University of Virginia. I will always applaud St. Mary’s for not only recognizing students who achieved high grades, but also rewarding those who displayed effort with the implementation of “E Club”, the “E” standing for “Effort.” This was an additional grade on the report card and evaluated in every class— it was not based on a student’s actual percentage grade, but solely based on effort. This is my most vivid example of how St. Mary’s taught me the importance of effort, as well as high grade point averages—two spheres of academics, which I have come to believe, are the recipe for success.

    At St. Mary’s, strong relationships with teachers are encouraged, which is one of the best assets of the school. I continue to be friends with many of my teachers from St. Mary’s. All of my classmates from the class of 2004 developed special bonds with each teacher and got to know them on a personal level. Moving on to more advanced scholastic environments, I find myself truly treasuring the experience of having close relationships with fellow students and elders. In college, it is important to get to know your professors and cultivate relationships, especially those students wishing to apply to graduate schools in need of letters of recommendation. With the social skills I have learned at St. Mary’s, I am comfortable enough to take the initiative in getting to know my professors and have not only enriched my learning experience in doing so, but also discovered many more lifelong friends.

    St. Mary’s is not only remembered as a foundation for important skills in life, but also a family and a home. This expression may seem like a clichéd response, but the fact that my former classmates also feel this way serves to further validate the fact. St. Mary’s will always be a place I can visit, a place of fond memories, and a place of good friends— teachers and peers alike.
  • Kerri Croney ~ Florida State University ~ St. Mary’s Class of 2003

    I attended St. Mary's from kindergarten through 8th grade. Throughout my nine years at SMEDS I met some of my best friends, had tremendous teachers, and experienced many new adventures in and out of the classroom. The most important resource I left St. Mary's with was my education. Since St. Mary's offered courses such as Life Science and Algebra I to 8th graders, I entered high school a step ahead of some of the other students.

    Now, as I further my education in my upcoming junior year of college I think back on the number of classes that have required me to give presentations or speak to a large group of people. I have to thank Mr. Laird for coaching me in my 8th grade speech class, which ultimately calmed my nerves about public speaking. Not only did I learn how to speak better, I learned to write better. Mrs. Henson taught me all the tricks in the book for writing a great paper. She also gave amazing notes on the books we read in 7th and 8th grade English, which proved extremely helpful when I read some of those same books again in my AP English classes in high school. Also, my 3 years in Latin at SMEDS prepared me with the basics for another difficult 3 years with the language at Plant High School. Now I find I can pick apart words and tell you their meanings based on the word's root in Latin. Although this trick may seem useless, it came in quite handy as I prepared for the SAT and even now as I study medical terms in my pursuit of a degree in Exercise Science.

    Not only did I receive a terrific education at St. Mary's, one that prepared me for the rigorous classes I took in high school and have yet to take in college, but I also made some lasting friendships and had an amazing time on class trips to places such as St. Augustine and Washington D.C. The experiences I had and the memories I made in my tenure at SMEDS will last me a lifetime.
  • Lindsey Ann von Thron ~ Associate Producer ~ St. Mary’s Class of 1998

    St. Mary's is more than just an elementary and middle school. It is a place where the seeds of individuality, self confidence, and the yearning to learn are planted. As a "lifer" at St. Mary's, I was privileged to spend nine years cultivating these traits under the guidance of some amazing teachers and mentors. Many of my classmates are still close friends and others I see less often and pick up right where we left off, because those are the types of friendships forged at St. Mary's.

    My St. Mary’s teachers have also had a profound effect on me; one even told me where I was going to college when I was in the sixth grade - and sure enough she was right! Years after graduating from St. Mary's, I still hear from my teachers every once in a while or have the chance to catch up with them around town. It is truly amazing to know that your kindergarten or second grade teacher continues to keep up with your accomplishments throughout high school and college. Without fail, my kindergarten teacher cut out every newspaper clipping that mentioned me and mailed it to me with a note saying how proud she is of me. Getting a pat on the back from parents is encouraging, but even more encouraging is to know that someone who taught you when you were five years old still cares enough to send a note of congratulations when you graduate high school and college. My second grade teacher continues to tell me, each time I see her, that I was her most meticulous student, and it brightens my day that not only does she remember each of her students, but she remembers all of their characteristics and quirks as seven year olds.

    Along with unique teacher-student relationships and lasting friendships, I developed the study skills, discipline, and time management that allowed me to have an accomplished high school and college career, leading me to fulfill my dream of working in sports media in New York City. St. Mary's provided a well-rounded education that focused not only on the classroom, but also on athletics, the arts, and camaraderie. We learned as much from class plays, field days, 8th grade rock concerts, and from participating on the competitive athletic teams as we did from social studies and math classes.

    While I am not the same wide-eyed five year old who first stepped foot onto the St. Mary's campus, or the same fourteen year old who graduated nine years after that, I still have the lessons, the memories, the friendships, and the mentors from my time at St. Mary's, which have all played an integral role in who I am today and will continue to play this role for a long time to come.
  • Anna R. Alldredge ~ Educator at Cate School ~ St. Mary's Class of 1996

    St. Mary's will always have a special place in my heart. I attended SMEDS from Kindergarten through 8th grade, and enjoyed all of the warmth, support, and intellectual encouragement I received there. St. Mary's instilled in me a sense of wonder as a learner that I have carried into my career as an educator.

    This concept of curiosity and passion informed my athletic experience at St. Mary's, where I learned to love team sports at an early age. St. Mary's athletic program emphasizes team building and personal growth, and constantly encourages young athletes to stretch themselves in a safe environment. Throughout all of my various middle school seasons, I relished the bonding among the team members that my coaches encouraged and celebrated. St. Mary's first taught me the value of teamwork and self-sacrifice, and through that foundation I was well-prepared to pursue volleyball at a highly competitive level during my high school and college years.

    I am forever indebted to St. Mary's teachers and coaches who inspire youngsters on a daily basis.
  • Will Robinson ~ Google Senior Software Engineer ~ St. Mary's Class of 1995

    From Kindergarten through eighth grade, St. Mary's cultivated a love of learning that stayed with me through high school, college, and graduate school. Whether I was mixing compounds in Mr. Edwards's science class or conjugating Latin verbs, the instructors were always supportive, dedicated, and absolutely top-notch.

    Just as importantly, I believe that my time at St. Mary's was instrumental in forming the heart of my character. I move through the world today as a citizen, an engineer, a son, and a brother. And in all of these roles, I am frequently amazed at how many of my core beliefs and values hearken back to the classrooms, the chapel, and the playgrounds of St. Mary's.

    It is truly a special place.