A love of math brought Maggie Javins to the profession of mechanical engineering after college. For years, she worked in this industry before taking some time off to start her family and be home with her children.
When it came time to go back to work, she decided not to return to engineering but to look at other areas of interest.
During her time as a stay-at-home mom, she participated in faith formation, and when one of her children needed extra help in school, she became a home-school teacher.
Education became a big part of her focus, and that passion helped her switch gears, leading her to become a teacher for more than 12 years and, now, the new principal at St. John the Baptist School in Fort Wayne.
“It’s been a long journey of many little things that came together,” Javins said of her road to administration. “I remember thinking I could do this teaching thing, and I think God’s calling me here.”
Javins entered the teaching world at Most Precious Blood School in Fort Wayne, where she taught mathematics for four years. More recently, she spent eight years at Bishop Luers High School as a math teacher until an invitation from Father Andrew Budzinski, then Pastor at St. John the Baptist, led her to apply and be named the new principal for the school.
“We have a great staff here. They are excellent teachers,” said Javins, who hopes to continue to build on the work of her predecessor’s academic excellence.
“I want to focus on the best instructional practices,” said Javins, who has done extensive research on how schools in Europe use a more traditional style of learning to great success. “Our instruction has to be excellent,” Javins said.
Javins understands that many families have two parents working outside the home, leaving little time for instruction in the evenings and on weekends. Javins said a strong focus on instruction time in the classroom will help to eliminate the need for extended instruction time at home.
When it comes to the students, Javins hopes to walk with each one of them not only academically but on their spiritual journey, as well.
“We’ve been trying to make the focus on the Eucharist and help students see the importance of a faith life in their daily life,” Javins said. “It all starts with building good habits – working hard and achieving success.”
All jobs come with challenges, and leading a school has both good and bad problems.
“We have a good challenge in that we’re growing,” Javins said. “Growth is a good problem to have.” With an increase in the student population comes the challenge of staffing, and one area of concern is resources needed for English as a Second Language (ESL) students.
St. John the Baptist School, along with other schools across the state, is riddled with constant testing changes in Indiana. It is important to Javins that academic standards are met without reducing time spent on sacrament and religious instruction.
Being an educator comes with many memorable and impactful moments, and Javins’ career has been no different.
“I’ve always had a niche in teaching accelerated algebra … and having kids buy into our culture,” Javins said about her time at Bishop Luers. With students coming from various grade schools, they all had different levels of expertise in algebra, different ways of learning, and different understanding of necessary study habits, Javins said. She found that some students didn’t always appreciate her strict rules or style of teaching, but once they got through the first few weeks, they learned to embrace and often love what she was doing in the classroom.
“I would ask them to take a minute to look at their white boards and tell them to look at all the work they’ve done, how they’ve come so far,” Javins said. “I loved seeing that moment of pride for them.”
Being nestled within a neighborhood south of downtown Fort Wayne has created a community feel within the school, Javins said.
“We have a solid intergenerational school here,” Javins said. The St. John the Baptist Eagles have a good mix of new families and families with multiple generations of students and alumni.
The academic year is off to a strong start, said Javins, who is excited and honored to be part of such a strong community of families and educators.
“My wish,” Javins said, “is that the students and families fall in love with Jesus and the Eucharist this year.”
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