“We need to be verbs, not nouns.“
This is a simple statement, yet “doing” rather than just “being” can have a profound impact. “Being a verb” is Chris Sheridan’s philosophy, and the commitment of the trustees of the Phil J. and Alice S. Sheridan Foundation to “doing” is having a dramatic and transformative effect on the Mount de Sales campus.
In 2016, Chris and the Sheridan Foundation began the first of a multiphase, multimillion-dollar transformation of our historic campus with landscape and facility improvements that have created a beautiful, cohesive, park-like setting. The Foundation completed a program of land acquisition it began more than 30 years ago, when it negotiated a land swap with the City of Macon and purchased the street, Rose Place, now renamed de Sales Drive. Asphalt parking lots were replaced by lush green spaces, an unsightly concrete area was swapped for a secluded prayer garden and fountain, a low brick wall and entrance pillars were added to define the entire campus, and an outdoor eating area was shaded with colorful sails.
“When I am on the campus today, I see a place that has more beauty, a place that brings people closer to nature and to God,” said Chris, who is the driving force behind the transformation. Current and prospective students, parents, campus guests, and certainly alums, who often walk around in shock at the incredible changes to campus, echo that sentiment.
“The improvements and additions to campus since my graduation in 2014 have completely blown my mind,” noted Kennedy Bruce. “Current students are extremely blessed!”
Chris noted that his aunt and uncle, the late Alice and Phil Sheridan, loved “gardening and beauty and Mount de Sales.” He thinks they would be very happy with the transformation. Yet Chris is quick to note that what would make them smile even more is to know that everyone who touches Mount de Sales cultivates a stronger connection to God and nature.
Chris never rests and the transformation continues. Currently, construction is underway on a new plaza that Chris describes as “a gem of a place, like no other high school in the area.” It will feature nine large trees—Sarah’s Radiance Chinese Pistacia known for their intense fall color—and brick pavers leading to a grassy, tree-lined area, where middle school students can run and play. They are also renovating a concrete area tucked between de Sales, St. Joseph, and Cavalier halls into an outdoor café and courtyard.
The transformation of the physical campus is not just about beauty but also about enhancing learning. For example, the interior of Mercy Hall was renovated this summer with generous gifts from a number of donors and a matching gift from the Sheridan Foundation. Chris and architects Kevin Walsh and Kamal Azar wanted each classroom to be an engaging learning atmosphere. New LED lighting makes the classrooms brighter and interactive technology and in-ceiling audio modernizes the building for today’s teaching methods. Additionally, removing an unused closet created more space in a science classroom, which means fewer students at each lab station and more individualized attention. [Plaza Plan: Click here to see the drawing of the plaza.]
“No matter whether you are a student, teacher, or staff member, everyone at Mount de Sales is here to teach, learn, and serve,” said Chris. “Hopefully the beauty of the campus facilitates those processes.”
The enhancement of our historic campus is certainly a testament to the transformative power of “doing” and is a call to action for those of us fortunate enough to enjoy its beauty. How can you be part of the transformation? Enjoy a reflective moment in the prayer garden, dig in the dirt as we plant and harvest in the campus garden, volunteer to plant jasmine around campus, or make a gift to renovate a classroom. In short, be a verb!
Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, which is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.