I still remember my first visit to TJ as a prospective sixth grader. That day set into motion a chain of events that shaped who I am today—a lifelong reader and learner, the Board Chair, eager to attest that a charming Tudor-style mansion on a 20-acre campus in the St. Louis suburbs is the best place for a high-ability kid to receive a college-preparatory education.
If you had asked me shortly after college what TJ meant to me, I would have referenced the college preparation. After all, my first two years at Northwestern were far easier than my last two at TJ. I felt deeply indebted to the TJ faculty for preparing me to navigate a collegiate, self-directed learning environment.
Now that I’m approaching 40, I have a new level of appreciation for my time at TJ. The currents of adult life can be unpredictable, and the world grows ever more complex. As unexpected challenges surface, though, I can muster the intellect, creativity, and persistence to navigate life’s currents. With 20 years of distance from my time as a student, the true value of the TJ experience is only beginning to reveal itself to me: TJ taught me how to think—not through any specific course or piece of content, but through year after year of study on complex topics in preparation for a deep, faculty-led discussions. Simply put, I am who I am because of TJ.
Last fall, I had the opportunity to visit classes for the first time since the pandemic. As the students analyzed a Shakespearean sonnet, well-prepared after an evening of independent study, I was transported back to my own time here. A lot has changed in 25 years, but the magic inside the four walls of a TJ classroom still thrives.
Even as TJ evolves—as all schools must—TJ’s Board of Trustees holds true to our mission. That mission ensures that the TJ self-directed classroom experience will continue to prepare students not just for college, but for decades thereafter. That purpose was obvious 25 years ago when I was a prospective middle schooler, and it remains at the center of all we do today.
Jimmy Holloran '03
President, Board of Trustees