Immaculata Magazine Summer 2014 - page 33

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“It is rewarding to work with students who are excited to be in school
every day,” stated Jayne Caflin Fonash, who graduated from Immaculata
in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Fonash is currently director of
School Counseling at the Loudoun Academy of Science in Sterling, VA.
Noting her childhood ambition to be a journalist, Fonash recalls
serving as co-editor of the student newspaper,
The Immaculatan
, and
remembers how supportive Sister Marian William Hoben, IHM, Ph.D.,
was to her.
“Many Sunday nights I would sit with Sister Marian holding the most
recent editorial. She would never question my opinion as long as I could
defend it.” She noted that she learned a lot from that process.
She also learned from her classmates; many of whom included the
champion Mighty Macs basketball players. Even as the co-editor for
The
Immaculatan
, Fonash remembered that no one realized how significant
these teams, and women, were at the time. “These women were leaders,
and not just on the basketball court,” she said. Fonash began to understand
that learning wasn’t just reserved for the classroom, but went beyond her
academic major.
There are three important skills that Fonash learned at Immaculata:
to think, to write, and to lead. Seeking out classes that crossed academic
disciplines, she wanted to understand what “makes us function.” This
curiosity influenced her career path when, during her junior year, a friend
invited her to a peer counseling program run by Dr. Lewis Morgan, the
college’s psychologist. After that initial meeting, Fonash signed up for the
peer counseling training program and was hooked. After graduating from
Immaculata, she attended Villanova University, where she earned a Master
of Arts in Counseling in 1976.
When she married in 1976, Fonash and her husband, Peter, decided
that the first professional job offer for either of them, no matter where it
was located, would determine where they lived. Peter found a position first
in Michigan. Fonash was not certified to work as a public school counselor
in Michigan but she was able to find a job as a social worker with a public
agency where she spent several years investigating allegations of child
abuse and neglect, and then worked in a medical hospital.
Their subsequent move to Virginia led her to work in the criminal
justice system, where she worked for 10 years while also maintaining a
small private practice.
“It was sad work because people’s lives took such devastating turns,”
she said. Then one day, a client of hers suggested that she look into a
career as a school counselor. Fonash loved the idea of merging her passion
for helping people with her educational background, and she was ready for
a move into a job with a “happy ending.”
Her happy ending brought her to work for the Loudoun County public
school system where she began a career as a counselor at Board Run High
School. Since then, she has advanced her career, serving as guidance
director for eight years at Potomac Falls High School before beginning her
current position at Loudoun Academy of Science. When she first arrived
at Loudoun in 1995, there were 15,000 students; that number has now
increased to 70,000 students.
In her current position at the Loudoun
Academy of Science, which is a math and
science magnet school, she oversees the
admission process for incoming freshmen
as well as college counseling for current
students. “There are 750 applications and
only 68 openings each year, so we get the
‘best and brightest’ who are curious and
excited about the learning process, and who
understand that nothing is just handed over
to them,” Fonash stated.
As someone who believes in lifelong
learning as well as in public service,
her work has led her to involvement in
the National Association for College
Admission Counseling (NACAC) and her regional affiliate, the
Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission
Counseling (PCACAC). Holding the position of past-president of
PCACAC, Fonash currently serves as the chair of the Government
Relations Committee. In 2012, she was the recipient of the NACAC
Government Relations Award, presented annually to a NACAC
member who has made outstanding efforts in support of policy
initiatives to promote equal access to higher education, encourage
student achievement and promote counselor excellence and further the
government relations priorities of NACAC members.
Of course, like all educators, Fonash truly enjoys the annual
Commencement ceremony. She feels lucky that she is the person who
announces the names of the graduating seniors as they walk across the
stage to receive their diploma. “The promise of their entire future is
radiating on their faces…it’s priceless,” she stated.
In the near future, Fonash will also be walking across the stage
to receive her diploma. An Ed.D. candidate in Education Leadership
Administration from the Curry School at the University of Virginia,
she hopes to finish by late summer 2015.
In addition to working and writing her dissertation, Fonash
somehow manages time for family and hobbies. She enjoys traveling
and recently visited Scotland, which is one of her favorite destinations.
She has also traveled overseas with students to Singapore and to a
marine science field station in the Bahamas and loved watching the
students experience different cultures.
With two grown children, the Fonash family just welcomed
their first grandchild, a boy named Cole, who someday may be the
third generation to attend Immaculata. It just so happens that Peter’s
mother, Margaret Carney Fonash, was a 1930 graduate of Immaculata
University. Even if Fonash did not realize it at the time, Immaculata
has generated some incredible women leaders over the years—including
herself.
Jayne Caflin Fonash ’74
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