Corey Quinn, a 1998 Alum Service Corps volunteer, recently became the first lay president of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis. Quinn is a great example of the success of Jesuit secondary education, and how a decision to become an Alum Service Corps (ASC) volunteer in 1998-99 prepared him for a life of service.
Recently I met with Corey Quinn, a 1998 Alum Service Corps volunteer as he was about to become the first lay president of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis, where he had graduated 14 years earlier. What emerged from his stories of a career in education is a person still being formed, and happily so.
He has a warm demeanor, a passion for Jesuit education, and is a confident leader. A doctoral candidate in educational leadership at Saint Louis University, Quinn strives for intellectual growth, never letting the dust settle under his boots. He lives the attitudes, behaviors, and actions Jesuit educators like to see in their students.
Quinn peppers his remarks with familiar Jesuit phrases and ideals, such as the notion of being “missioned,” and the need to be modern, adaptable and global.
“It means to be like Jesus, radically present in the world in which we live, finding God in all things,” he said.
Quinn is a great example of the success of Jesuit secondary education, and how a decision to become an Alum Service Corps (ASC) volunteer in 1998-99 prepared him for a life of service.
Years ago, Jesuit Fr. Chris Pinné, the former dean of students at De Smet Jesuit and former ASC director, called Quinn after he had graduated from college.
“You like pizza?” he recalled Pinné asking him. The dinner ended with the priest’s inviting Quinn to join ASC for a year of voluntary service teaching theology at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Mo. Alum Service Corps volunteers serve Jesuit middle and high schools in Denver, Kansas City and St. Louis out of gratitude for their own Jesuit education. They live in community and by Ignatian values.
Jesuit educators believe that the seeds they plant in their students might help them some day to set the world on fire. Quinn said his year of ASC service helped him get “to know Christ” and grow as a “contemplative in action.”
It also led to his meeting his future wife, Amanda; they started the same day at Rockhurst. Pinné presided at the couple’s wedding and baptized two of their three children.
Quinn describes Pinné as a “gift” and “a turning point” in his life. He called him almost immediately after learning he’d gotten the job at De Smet starting July 1. Quinn previously had been president of De La Salle Middle School, a collaboration of the community, the Christian Brothers and the Jesuits, and serves the urban poor of north St. Louis.
Quinn recalled his mentors at Rockhurst: the patient Tom Norman who listened to Quinn’s “crazy ideas” and reminded him to focus on kids’ learning; theology colleague Brad Grabs, who took the Gospel so seriously that he lived in a Kansas City homeless shelter; and principal Tom Murphy and his support of teachers and staff.
Many experiences prepared him for his current leadership role: coaching a fledgling hockey program at Rockhurst; teaching theology at Rockhurst and De Smet Jesuit, and being an interim dean of students at De Smet.
“It all makes sense now,” he said. “Nothing has been a waste. All has been in preparation for where we are today, in generous service.”
Quinn offers this advice to the latest ASC class of 25 volunteer teachers at six Jesuit schools.
“Peace is only found in yes,” he said, quoting the late Indian Jesuit and spiritual leader, Anthony De Mello.
But, he adds, saying yes can lead to exhaustion.
“Be conscious of balancing effective service to our schools with not being overwhelmed because of a sense of busy-ness that could lead to ineffectiveness,” he said.
Peter Musso is director both of School Support for the Jesuits of the Central and Southern Province, and the Alum Service Corps. He served as assistant principal for staff development and English teacher at De Smet Jesuit High School, his alma mater.