August 04, 2021
Student Spotlight: Josef M. ’22
Our spotlight series profiles students making impact in the community and beyond.
Josef M. is a rising senior in the Upper School. A Dragon since kindergarten, Josef is committed to the academic rigors and community service opportunities available at Glenelg Country School.
How do you feel that you best represent your school?
I best represent my school by displaying Glenelg Country School’s focus on academics, community service, and extracurricular activities. A true Glenelg Country School (GCS) “Dragon” embodies all three of those facets while being respectful, honest, and truthful to others. Academically, I participate in the rigorous Scholars Program focusing on technology, engineering, and design. I am a recipient of the Carson Scholarship and a member of the National Honor Society and the National Latin Society.
I serve my local community by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and recently helped alleviate the spread of COVID-19 by building and donating a sanitation stand to a homeless shelter. Not only do I serve my local community, but I also work to improve the global community. I have volunteered for the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI), a nonprofit organization raising awareness of the dangers of land mines and alleviating the pain of landmines in the developing world. Through Peacemakers and Problem Solvers, a program of MLI, I have participated in multiple international peace conferences. In addition, I was awarded a service project grant for creating the most valuable service initiative during my freshman year. This $500 grant initiated my mine detection dog campaign to raise $20,000.00 to sponsor a lifesaving mine detection dog by my senior year.
My extracurricular activities are just as important as my academics and my community service. I serve as the treasurer for the student council, play two varsity sports, participate in robotics, and created GCS’s motor club. By being strong academically, involved in community service, and a leader of extracurricular activities, I have become a well-rounded student, prepared myself for college, and developed into a true “Dragon.”
This has been an unusual year and a half due to the pandemic and its effects on schools. What did you most miss about being on campus when schools were shut down?
I missed the sense of community while schools were physically closed. One essential aspect of Glenelg County School is its tight-knit and family-like community. With small class sizes, students can form strong relationships with their peers and develop supportive and mentoring relationships with their teachers and administrators. Even though GCS implemented terrific ways to maintain our school community bonds, I still missed the in-person interactions with everyone within the GCS family.
What tradition or experience did your school make a point of continuing despite being on lockdown?
Glenelg Country School established its sense of community during the lockdown by continuing Forum, office hours, and clubs on Wednesdays via Zoom and Microsoft Teams. These activities helped establish a sense of community and built strong bonds between students and faculty. Forum is when students from the Upper School meet to discuss future activities and the latest news. Seniors also use this time to present researched topics to the student body and faculty. In addition, GCS implemented private meetings with teachers during office hours to build strong relationships between students and teachers.
Finally, students were allowed to join clubs during the lockdown. As a student council member, we found ways to reestablish our school community by organizing a pumpkin carving competition, an advisory talent contest, and a March Madness tournament. By continuing these activities, GCS continued its sense of community and gave everyone a sense of normalcy.
Do you have a favorite place on campus?
My favorite place on campus is the Manor House. The Manor House resembles a Scottish castle and dates back to the 1700s. In 1954, Kingdon and Mary Gould rented the Manor House and started Glenelg Country School. It is currently being used as an extension of the Lower School and features many classrooms. Because I have attended GCS since kindergarten, I have spent many years in the Manor House, developing into the person I am today. It is my favorite place on campus because of its interesting history and the memories I made while being a student in the lower school.
What teacher, coach, or mentor has made the biggest impact on you?
During the last 12 years at GCS, numerous teachers, coaches, and mentors have left a long-lasting impact on me. However, I would say that the most significant impact has come from two special faculty members: Mrs. Anne Wooleyhand and Mrs. Jennifer Cope.
Mrs. Wooleyhand, the former head of the Lower School, and Mrs. Cope, my third-grade teacher, both implemented an after-school program that I participated in during my lower school years. The program is called Children Helping Against Mines Program (CHAMPS). CHAMPS is a program of the Marshall Legacy Institute, a nonprofit organization raising awareness of the lifesaving work of mine detection dogs and alleviating the pain of landmines in the developing world. As a member of CHAMPS, I learned the importance of a mine detection dog (MDD), met several brave and inspiring landmine survivors, and talked to students from war-torn countries via Skype. As a group, CHAMPS organized fundraisers to sponsor seven MDDs and helped many landmine survivors with medical needs.
As I entered high school, the dedication of Mrs. Wooleyhand and Mrs. Cope inspired me, and I decided to create my own campaign to sponsor my own MDD. I have established myself as a leader and have an urge to serve the global community because I have been fortunate enough to have been mentored by Mrs. Wooleyhand and Mrs. Cope.
If you had to give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
My advice to my younger self would be never to let fear get in the way of trying new opportunities and adapt to new situations. Glenelg Country School provides the students with countless options and extracurricular activities. Each of these opportunities is truly a learning experience. By trying new opportunities and adapting to new situations, one will grow as a person.
What is the biggest lesson you will take away from your school experience?
My biggest takeaway from Glenelg Country School is that any goal can be achieved through hard work and determination. As a GCS student, I have developed a spectacular work ethic due to the school’s challenging courses and inspiring faculty. I have learned that any challenge can be overcome by hard work. My hard work and determination have led to many accomplishments and have prepared me for what lies ahead in the future.