The MMA community began the new school year ready to continue “Living Mercy and Seeking Justice.” This year we also welcomed our new Dean of Students, Ms. Olivia Sharkey into the community. Sophomore staff writer Casey Fosbenner sat down with Ms. Sharkey to learn more about her and her new role at Merion.
Originally from Northeast Philadelphia, Ms. Sharkey is an alumnus of Nazareth, an all-girls high school. Coming from Nazareth, she sees herself in the way students interact with one another. She most recently taught Theology at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School. When asked about hopes for her first year, she says that she wants to be a face that’s joyful and a space that’s trusting for students. As a bridge between the students and the rest of the school population, Ms. Sharkey wants to really lean into listening and hear what students would like to say.
Some students may wonder, what does the Dean do? Ms. Sharkey says that her ‘typical day’ is never typical. Students and their needs are forever changing, so her days are always changing to meet those needs. Although she spends part of her day in meetings and teaching her freshman Religious Experience class, Ms. Sharkey always tries her best to be present and visible in the hallways. The big things on her agenda relate to student character formation: recognizing and celebrating the whole person. Shoutouts during community time, addressing infractions from conduct referral forms, planning community time, advisory programs, and large student events are all coordinated by the Student Life office. Along with Ms. Harris, Ms. Sharkey plans events such as Weenie Roast, Harvest Moon, Prom, graduation, and orientations.
Ms. Sharkey appreciates many things about Merion. She enjoys the beautiful campus and trips to the school’s chapel. Ms. Sharkey looks forward to the humor and community fun of Weenie Roast as well as to Advent activities and Carol Night at MMA.
As a very student-centered administrator, she wants students to have outlets to grow and fuel the other parts of themselves. “I think one of the most beautiful things about a school is when we remember that academic health is supported by holistic health.” Ms. Sharkey knows that we have many sides to us, and she loves to hear from students. Each month, she plans to have “Snack Time with the Dean”, an opportunity to chat and have a snack with her. See this video for some context as to what Snack Time is.
The Ricordia staff wish Ms. Sharkey good luck during her first year at Merion Mercy!