Welcome to our new Director of Admissions, Mary O’Malley!
A native of Morgan Park and graduate of Latin School of Chicago, Knox College, and Northwestern University, Ms. O’Malley has spent the majority of her career in independent schools, working to help students find the next phase of their education.
As Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at La Lumiere School, she built enrollment strategically across three diverse populations: day students, boarding students, and international students. She also worked as the Assistant Director of College Counseling at Latin School of Chicago and most recently served as a College-Persistence Counselor at Chicago Jesuit Academy, a full scholarship school for African-American young men on Chicago’s west side.
Why did you choose to work at Morgan Park Academy?
It doesn’t take long to see why MPA is so special. I’ve been familiar with the school for my entire life; I grew up right around the corner, on Lothair Avenue, where my parents still live. I sought out this opportunity because I wanted to work at a school that was committed to educating the whole child. In today’s society, it’s easy to get ahead by taking others down. I firmly believe that a school community should stand for and teach a set of core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, diligence, kindness, cooperation, and service. Morgan Park Academy does this in spades.
What experiences or people had the most influence on you?
At my school last year, I was assigned a middle-school reading buddy. Each day, for 45 minutes, James would come to my office, help himself to some candy, and we would read. When reading The Phantom Tollbooth, we followed Milo’s journey on a map. When reading a biography of LeBron James, we researched the philanthropies that he supports. James was quite the character and getting to see the world through his eyes was an experience I will never forget. Reading with him quickly became the best part of my day.
What has excited you most about MPA so far?
When I tell people I’ve started working here, I hear so many stories about their connections to the Academy. Neighbors reminisce about how much their children loved going to camp here. It turns out that Annie Melville, our Lower School principal, began her career as a student-teacher in my friend’s mother’s classroom. My seventh-grade English teacher (and the first teacher to ever give me the confidence that I was smart) has connections to the school and now teaches workshops here. These types of connections are not lost on me and cement the fact that I’m in the right school.
What are some of your interests and hobbies?
I spent a year at Northwestern University writing my Master’s thesis on Charles Comiskey, the late, legendary owner of the Chicago White Sox who throughout history was wrongly cast as a villain. I’m an avid cyclist. I love sitting on my balcony and drinking coffee while reading a good book. I’m a great fur-aunt to my sister’s puppies and spoil my friend’s children rotten with chocolate munchkins and Ferris wheel rides at Navy Pier.
Who are your mentors?
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had mentors throughout my life who have given me the gift of their time and experience. Chris Boyle, Laura and Nat Coffman, and Debbie Greenburg came into my life at various moments and have been the people I turn to for questions, gut-check moments, and advice. I believe that the biggest gift you can give someone is your time, and I am immensely grateful for the time my mentors have gifted me. As Director of Admissions, I approach every conversation with a family through this lens.