Helping Students Discover Their Spark

Leading students to discover their “spark” is what excites Andy Taube about his new position as college and career coordinator at CJ. Taube defines a spark as a deep interest or passion that gives young people a sense of purpose, energy, and joy in life.

“Helping our students identify and foster their sparks leads to greater academic, developmental, and post high school success,” said Taube.

Planning ahead is a key part of students being successful in discovering their passion and taking an active role in shaping their future. The pandemic made planning ahead challenging. 

“We saw some students struggling more than usual with this big ‘what’s next’ question since the pandemic was making just getting through each rapidly changing day difficult,” said Greg Mueller, principal. 

VIDEO: Hear from Andy directly about how he helps students answer three fundamental questions for successful future planning

In order to better assist students with these big questions, help foster their growth and provide ongoing guidance, Jama Badinghaus, chair of the school counseling department, developed the concept for the position of college and career coordinator.

“Having a coordinator allows the counseling staff to better maintain best practices for students and more opportunity to tailor services for them. We also could potentially expand the breadth of experiences beyond CJ for our graduates,” she said. 

“My hope is that this position will also create a space for students to explore a deeper sense of vocation and that students will graduate more confident in who they hope to be for the world, not just what they intend to do in it.”

This new position will benefit all grade levels by providing opportunities for students to better understand themselves, and to explore how their unique gifts, talents, and interests align to post-secondary opportunities. 

Students being able to begin this process with a dedicated staff member early in a student’s high school years and maintaining and building upon a consistent relationship of support will allow CJ students to flourish in their next phase of life and far beyond.

Taube’s efforts will also directly assist students and families with the many nuanced realities of the college admissions processes such as FAFSA preparation, scholarship applications, and decision- making.

Finding the right person for the many facets of this job was essential. Taube’s experience as a counselor, his familiarity with a school environment and the Marianist community — and his enthusiastic personality — helped him stand out. 

“Andy is as energetic and passionate as they get,” said Mueller. “As far as being ambitious and willing to learn, Andy encapsulates that and has a huge passion for helping students achieve their goals.”

Taube has many goals and aspirations for CJ students regarding college planning and career exploration moving forward. 

“I consider my spark to be helping students realize their fullest potential and gifts as individuals created in the image and likeness of God,” he said.