A resurgence in SJA’s College, Counseling Dept.
When Stephen Cappuccio became St. Joseph Academy’s (SJA) Head of School and President in 2022, he saw a need for a college readiness program.
Since hiring Dean of College Guidance Michael Sherlock, the College and School Counseling Department has had a resurgence.
Sherlock started working at SJA part-time in February 2022 and started working full-time June 2022. The 2023-2024 school year will be his second academic year working in the department.
“Mike has been successful and instrumental in putting in a program unique to St. Joe,” Cappuccio said.
Before working at St. Joseph Academy, Sherlock was a college and school counselor at Sherlock Bishop Eustace Preparatory School for 20 years.
“When I came to St. Joseph Academy, I knew I wanted to bring a lot of what I learned from that experience at Bishop Eustace here, and one of that was building up the college and career aspect of things and also introducing a social and emotional learning component,” Sherlock said.
SJA has established many guaranteed admission partnerships with colleges in the Philadelphia-area region and beyond.
One school St. Joseph Academy is partnering with is the Fox School of Business at Temple University.
“We have our business students here. We have two classes, and they will be afforded the opportunity to visit, sit in classes and meet professors throughout the entire year at Temple,” Sherlock said.
Students are scheduled to go back to the Fox School of Business before the holiday break.
Temple University also sends professors to St. Joseph Academy to teach students occasional lessons throughout the school year.
Another thing Sherlock is excited for is the partnership with Bowie State University.
“One thing we’re really excited about right now. We have about 30 percent of our population identify as minority and knowing that 30 percent of our population is considered a minority, we have Beyond the Conversation and they were at that Q&A panel with Bowie State University, which is a HBCU. HBCU is a Historically Black College and University. Bowie State is down in Maryland,” Sherlock said.
Over the summer, Sherlock met with the Dean of Enrollment at Bowie State University and Morgan State University to talk about St. Joseph Academy, the students and curriculum.
“We are trying to as a school and this department trying to teach the kids, trying to provide them opportunities for them to see that there’s a lot of great institutions out there that could be a great fit for them,” Sherlock said.
Cappuccio said SJA has been successful partnering with trade schools as well.
“A lot of kids want to go into the trades. There’s something to be said for going into the trades right now and having a great career doing one of those traditional trades that society has a tremendous demand for,” Cappuccio said.
Last spring, Sherlock said St. Joseph Academy had a financial planning night open to all parents to learn how to save money for college.
“The earlier you start, the better,” Sherlock said.
The school will have another financial planning night next spring.
During the current school year, SJA held college question and answer panels, college information workshops and Jesuit college tours.
“There are 28 Jesuit colleges in the country, and we had close to half of them come to St. Joe and visit our students as far as California,” Sherlock said.
Most recently in October, SJA held a financial information night to teach parents of juniors and seniors how to fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).
“A lot of positive things are happening here. The kids are getting exposed to a lot of different educational opportunities that are out there,” Sherlock said.
Dean of Academics Mimi Vaccarella hopes the department grows further.
“My hope would be it grows even further, get more partnerships with different colleges to ensure our students get good scholarships, acceptance rates go up and just to give them that piece of mind that someone here at St. Joseph Academy is going to help them through this process, which can be very stressful,” Vaccarella said.
According to Sherlock, the school expanded their dual-credit program. SJA has dual-credit programs with Stockton University, Atlantic Cape Community College and Camden County College.
“What I want is for our students to become better consumers, more educated consumers, to really see there’s a lot of different opportunities out there and there’s a lot of great fits for them,” Sherlock said.
Cappuccio said they are thinking about doing more internships as the school moves forward.
“Anything where the kids feel like it might be a career they want to explore … different business internships, accounting, finance, medical, healthcare, teaching, whatever they have their particular eye on just to give them a small taste of what that would look like either during our academic year or during the summer,” Cappuccio said.
Cappuccio said the hope is to continue to expose St. Joseph Academy students to the different choices that are available after graduation.