November Meeting Summary: Shana Maguire
“I’m a planner, but nothing has ever worked out as I planned,” our November speaker, Shana Maguire, explained. “When it’s the last thing that I’d expect, it’s normally the right thing for me.” As a woman who was not raised in the Catholic faith, who grew up with a single father in a neighborhood full of boys, Maguire never expected that she would one day become the Director of Admissions for Padua Academy, a Catholic high school for young women. “It was divine intervention,” she said.
Maguire first came to Padua Academy in 1996 as a recent college graduate. She had dreamed of becoming an English teacher, but Maguire soon found that she found little joy in her work. She disliked teaching writing, as well as giving students critiques. “I wasn’t giving my 100%, and I felt like a failure,” she recalled. Where Maguire did find fulfillment, however, was in the strong faith of her colleagues and students. Once, when she was struggling on how to approach a lesson plan, she asked for advice from another teach, Mrs. Slater. She suggested to Maguire, “Have you asked Jesus how he wants you to teach it?” At first, Maguire was not sure what to think of this advice. Over time, however, this simple question became essential to how she approached both her teaching career, as well as her everyday life. ‘ “Let your will be my will” has become a motto of mine,’ she said.
Four years later, in 2000, Maguire completed the RCIA program to become a full member of the Catholic faith. Despite her relatively secular upbringing, Maguire felt that there was always a part of her than yearned to belong and be a part of the faith. “There was always a longing in me to receive communion,” she said.
Another major turning point in Maguire’s life came the following year on September 11, 2001. Although none of her family members in D.C. or Pennsylvania were harmed, the event deeply disturbed her. Soon after, Maguire decided that she did not want to teach any more. However, though it looked like her time at Padua Academy was coming to an end, a new opportunity presented itself. That December, the advancement director for the school had quit, leaving the job open. Maguire had never considered working in an administrative position before, especially not one involving fundraising and promotion, but the job intrigued her. “I knew I loved the school, and that I could do anything to promote it,” she said. Maguire got the position, and over time, she became the director of admissions for the school, a job she enjoys immensely. Although it is difficult for her to turn away applicants, Maguire finds her work with the school as well as Partners in Mission fulfilling, for it gives her the opportunity to tell her story of how she came to Padua. One of her favorite parts of her job is speaking with visiting 8th graders who are touring the school. ‘I love seeing that look on their face that says “I can belong here,” ‘ she said.
For more pictures from the November meeting, see our “November Meeting in Pictures” post.