New head of middle division embraces humility and ’Marist Way,’ looks forward to new school year.
In May of this year, when Brandon Jezdimir was named interim principal for Notre Dame’s middle division for the 2017-18 school year, he said he thought gaining such an opportunity was most certainly a “special grace.” Duly inspired by Society of Mary/Marist founder Fr. Jean Claude Colin, Jezdimir recalled learning that Colin once had called “a short-term opportunity that one embraces with joy and clarity” a “special grace.”
“I see this interim principal position as ‘a special grace,’ but with long-term applications, not short,” he said. “Working at the Notre Dame Marist Academy middle division for 11 years truly has been a gift from God. The school’s mission, ‘To work with God to form Christian people, upright citizens and academic scholars’ is a mission that the Notre Dame middle division faculty and I accept and are constantly eager to implement.”
Jezdimir, who most recently served as vice principal for Jill Mistretta, replaces Mistretta, who has decided to return to her true passion — the classroom at Notre Dame — after more than 20 years of administrative and teaching experience at the school. In addition, Kelly Patterson, a 7th grade language teacher and alumnae of Notre Dame Prep, has been named interim vice principal, beginning with the new school year.
Man of faith
For Jezdimir, a true man of faith, he said even though it’s still summer break, it’s already been a whirlwind of activity at the Marist-sponsored school.
“It’s hard to believe summer is winding down and another school year is quickly approaching,” he said. “But I am filled with excitement and anticipation for this upcoming school year and as I begin this new position, I have been reflecting on what I believe it means to be a Marist educator.”
He said that during this reflection, he had been listening to an inspiring podcast that really resonated with him.
“It mentioned a verse in Psalms that states, ‘That’s right. Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’” (Psalm 41:13)
Indeed he believes the psalm is one that Marist educators should adapt generally as their educational mission statement.
“It is my goal this school year for our faculty and staff to reflect on this verse often, especially as we interact with the children in and out of the classroom,” he told parents in a recent letter. “It’s important to us that you and your child(ren) understand that we will not let them go and that we are here to help them.”
Jezdimir also brings up the school-wide Marist theme this year, “Ardent Love of Neighbor.” To be a loving neighbor, he said, one must first understand yourself and possess humility. During SRT, or ’schedule relief time,’ this year, Jezdimir said that staff and students alike will focus on the guiding question, “who do I want to become?”
“I think this will force us to reflect on if we are truly acting and being a loving neighbor,” he said. “This theme will allow us to strengthen our values and sense of community here at NDMA.”
Jezdimir, who over his nearly 11 years on staff taught math and social science at the school’s middle division, earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Oakland University. (He says, “Go Grizzlies!”) He’s also the proud husband — nine years and counting — of Nicole Jezdimir, a 2nd-grade teacher in Troy, and the proud father of three sons, Noah (7), Caleb (4) and Isaac (2).
An avid runner, when he’s not chasing his three sons around, Jezdimir has competed in one marathon, six half-marathons, two Ragnar relay races, and too many 5Ks to count. He said in his rare free time, he enjoys reading books (“Season of Life,” by Jeffrey Marx, is a favorite) and the bible (favorite verse is “He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.” Proverbs 62:2).
Embracing the Marist Way
Now heading down the home stretch of the summer break, Jezdimir can’t wait to see the kids again in the hallways and classrooms. In a recent letter to middle division parents, he told them he was thankful they had entrusted their children in the school’s Marist care and that it’s a blessing to have them at Notre Dame.
“Our goal for students always is to have them embrace the Marist Way,” he said. “The Marist Way focuses on five separate branches: vocation, prayer, community, service and learning. My hope is that each family also will implement and guide the Marist Way throughout their own households. From my years of experience, I know it takes both the school and the home to successfully raise a middle-school student!”
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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school’s upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation’s best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame’s middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate “World Schools.” NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.