Virginia (Ginny) Jones, CSJ
The words of our Alma Mater “ The Eagle is the symbol of the high school we hold dear” describes my gratitude for the wonderful, holistic education I received at West Babylon. Science taught by Mr. Olsen, Math by Mr. Payne, French by Dr. Tarrent (I can still remember Christmas songs in French), English and year book with Mrs. Foley , and all that I learned from Mrs. Shelfo about leadership, teamwork and integrity have been foundational to my life and ministry. Even more important was the caring , encouragement and personal support by faculty and principal (Mr. Van Brunt) that was so freely given.
During my senior year the Springfield College gymnastic team visited us and impressed me so much that I chose Springfield (a YMCA training school with a motto “ Mind, Spirit, and Body”) as my college choice. While there I encountered a professor who was one of the last of the old time Harvard naturalist who became my mentor. His influence expanded my concept of “ biology teacher “ to include appreciation and celebration of the natural world – this led to what has been my lifelong ministry- what I call “Earth Ministry”- for, with and on behalf of the earth community.
On to graduate school at Michigan State University for a masters in Botany and a Ph.D in Environmental Education… and the next step was entering the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth (Kalamazo) Michigan. While at Nazareth College I was able to create the area’s first weekend college program and begin development of a 60 acre natural area on our campus . While there I was able to host the area’s first Earth day celebration. Then on, to become a Vice-President at our 474 bed hospital where I was able to develop a fitness center (in 1980) in a local mall and chair the bio-medical ethics committee- a real learning experience. I also served on the boards of Lee Memorial Hospital (term as President), Catholic Family Services (term as president), Otsego Senior Apartments (vice-president). Then back to educational ministry – this time creating an eco-spirituality center and offering programs for adults as well as providing spiritual direction. I was also able to return to college teaching at Western Michigan University and Sienna Heights University. During this time I was on the founding board of Michigan Interfaith Power and Light and Michigan Catholic Rural Life commission.
Now that I am retired, I continue my Earth Ministry working with area churches on climate change and faith and with area farmers exploring farm incubator programs.
My West Babylon education took me in many directions I could not have dreamed of in 1961 ! My hope and prayer is that current West Babylon students are also experiencing this type of education that will enable them to become all they are capable of being.