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The Fonseca family relocated to Macon from California in the summer of 2021, when Luis had assumed the role of Atrium Navicent Health’s president of hospitals. Along with him was his wife, Monica, global project services director for Franklin Templeton Investments, and their youngest daughter Talia, then a sophomore. Unfortunately, Talia’s high school days in California had begun during the limitations of COVID-19 restrictions, so finding just the right school community in which she could now flourish was a priority for the family. Their search for the perfect school fit in Middle Georgia included looking at the environment, school size, class size, and opportunities for Talia to engage quickly and build relationships with her peers and teachers.

The Academy’s administration is intentional in examining the needs of students, how to help them grow as individuals, and how to best position them for success in the college phase. During their campus visit, it was evident to the Fonsecas that Mount de Sales had well-structured programs and a curriculum that would significantly challenge Talia. In learning about the opportunities and meeting teachers, Luis said he and Monica were particularly impressed with the Academy’s “philosophy around education, about bringing real-life examples to the educational environment that allow them to understand the why: why things are being done and why they are studying the things that they are doing.” They listened to the rationale informing how the school manages certain disciplines, such as why physics comes before other sciences in the curriculum. Luis believes the school is “very innovative and focused on how to continue to improve the learning experience.” Monica added, “The availability of classes, even if there might be only three, four, five people that may take it but still offering an honors class or the higher-level Spanish she is in…that was very appealing to us.”

One of the Academy’s well-known characteristics is its organic diversity, which is important to the Fonsecas. Mount de Sales accepts students of diverse faith traditions, socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnic heritages, and learning abilities. Luis noted that there was a “tremendous amount of authenticity in the people” at Mount de Sales and in the “work that’s happening to ensure inclusiveness.”

Another defining component for this Catholic family was finding a school that valued Catholic faith traditions. In California, Talia attended a Catholic school from kindergarten through eighth grade. Continuing in Catholic education and attending a school with a strong spiritual foundation were critical pieces for Luis and Monica. They count it a blessing for Talia to have opportunities to worship and do community service with peers. Monica said, “There is an expectation that you are being kind, following God’s word…there’s an overall belief in faith and being the best version of yourself. More important to us than anything, on top of all the academics, is raising a good person. That has been our foundation for our kids in general. We want to raise good kids that are respectful of adults and their peers.”

The Fonsecas said they have empowered and encouraged their two adult children and Talia to be advocates for themselves and to be independent and responsible people. The mission of Mount de Sales articulates and reinforces these same goals of independence and responsibility. Talia, now a junior, has embraced life in a small school community, made lasting connections with friends and teachers, developed the ability to manage her course load and sports, and continues to thrive in a challenging learning environment. She also is an integral part of the Academy’s varsity swimming and volleyball teams and enjoys taking part in traditions such as Friday Night football and school dances.

All in all, Mount de Sales had the right mix of challenging academics, diversity, faith traditions, resources, and overall environment that appealed to the Fonseca family. Luis and Monica knew deep down that this was the only place for Talia. In Monica’s words, as she reflected on their campus visit, “It just felt like home. We felt comfortable on the campus. It felt perfect. And this was the first school we visited.”

Originally printed in the Fall 2022 de Sales Sheet magazine.