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Magazine Feature: CSS' Joy Maguire-Parsons Opens Her Heart and Home

February 28, 2019

A feature on Joy Maguire-Parsons, CSS Director of Admission, is in the March edition of the Broadmoor Friends & Neighbors magazine. For those of you living beyond the magazine’s distribution area, we wanted to take the opportunity to share it with you.

CSS' Joy Maguire-Parsons Opens Her Heart and Home

Joy Maguire-Parsons surrounds herself with children not only at work but also at home.

As the Director of Admission for The Colorado Springs School, she interacts with kids of all ages. She and her husband, Rick Thompson, have two adult children and a teenage daughter, but they’ve welcomed many more into their home.

They have hosted 27 international students during the past 15 years from various countries, including Mexico, China, Australia, Germany, and Tanzania. Some stayed short term, while others lived with them for a year or more.

I just love being a mom and being in a full house,” said Maguire-Parsons, who keeps in touch with the students’ families. “What’s come out of this is deep friendships. We’ve had kids from all over the world. The cultural exchange and living and learning with people who view the world through a different lens has fostered compassion and understanding and has been the greatest gift I could give to my own kids. And my family, we have just a lot of love to share. So I feel like we’re the lucky ones.”

Thompson agrees, saying a highlight has been traveling to places such as Vietnam and Hong Kong to visit students they once hosted. “We’ve learned a lot about culture and the world,” he said. “And the chance to travel and know we can run into these people is amazing.”

They currently host two international students: 17-year-old Berit from Germany, who joined them in January, and 18-year-old Hina from Japan, who has been with them for six years, the longest of any of the students. Both teens, along with the couple’s 16-year-old daughter, Jules, attend CSS. Jules, a sophomore, ran cross country and plays tennis for CSS. She finished fourth in State 3A in the #1 singles spot as a freshman and has high hopes for her spring season.

Maguire-Parsons didn’t seek out international students. The first opportunity came when she was the Director of Admission and Residential Life at an independent boarding school, Oak Grove School in Ojai, California. After a recruitment trip to Mexico, a mom she met called about enrolling her seventh-grade daughter. But the school’s boarding program started at ninth grade.

Then the mother said, ‘Can she just live with you?’” Maguire-Parsons recalled. “We sat down as a family and talked about it, and we’ve never turned back.”

When teachers were concerned a ninth-grade student from Japan may not be able to attend the next year because her English hadn’t progressed enough, Maguire-Parsons posed a creative solution: She suggested the girl spend the summer immersed with her family speaking English and assigned to a tutor. She graduated with straight A’s. “I like to think outside of the box, and I never give up on children,” Maguire-Parsons said.

She was still at Oak Grove School, where she had worked for 15 years, when CSS reached out to her about joining its team. Although she and her family lived in what she calls “an idyllic-like place,” they were captivated by Colorado’s beauty. And once she visited CSS, it was a done deal.

I fell in love with the school. It was the people who I met that had such common goals, compassion and understanding — and the same intention to nurture learning,” Maguire-Parsons said. “That just made me feel at home.”

CSS’ project-based and experiential learning programs played a role in her accepting the position because “I feel strongly that the opportunities to learn outside of the classroom really set kids up for success.” During the school’s 3-week signature seminar term in March, her “girls” are each enrolled in one of six courses being offered to CSS high school students. Jules will study biodiversity on the island of Madagascar, while Hina will explore energy development in Iceland, and Berit will tackle the complexities of homelessness in the Pikes Peak region.

And Maguire-Parsons was especially drawn to the fact that CSS attracts international students; currently 14 are enrolled, living with host families. “I believe deeply in the value of intentionally-diverse living and learning communities,” she said.

While enrollment across the board has steadily grown over the years, it has increased 13 percent since Maguire-Parsons joined in July 2017.

Maguire-Parsons reaches out to many of the CSS parents. She encouraged Aja Zamundu, whose family is new to CSS this school year, to join other parents in the Colorado Springs Festival of Lights Parade.

After that, I started communicating with a lot of the parents, and that’s because Joy suggested us marching together,” said Zamundu, whose three children attend CSS. “Joy puts in a tremendous amount of effort to create a sense of community both inside the school and out. I think of her as a community builder. And I don’t think there’s anybody more perfectly named than her because joy is what you feel when you’re around her.”

Born in the Philippines, Maguire-Parsons thrives on being encircled by CSS’ students, who range from preschoolers through high schoolers. “When you grow up on islands, you develop strong communities with lots of generations,” she said. “And I think that’s why I’m so drawn to a school that intentionally offers a space for different generations to learn and grow together.”

She and her family settled into the Broadmoor area, a mile from CSS. “It’s a perfect neighborhood for us,” Thompson said. “I’ve been teaching tennis at The Broadmoor, and we’re members of the Country Club of Colorado (CCOC) — and the school is right here. We live right smack in the middle of all of it.”

They’ve enjoyed meeting people in the neighborhood while walking their two dogs, Timmy and Sugar. They also have two cats, Meese Meese and Penny. All of the pets are rescues.

In December, the family invited neighbors over for cocoa and cookies and to get a glimpse of the CSS float that was being built in their driveway for the Festival of Lights Parade; the float later won the Snowflake Award. “We look forward to meeting more of our neighbors and establishing roots in Colorado Springs,” Maguire-Parsons said.

She and Thompson met on the tennis courts — she was taking lessons and he was the instructor. Their adult children are Brewster, an actor in Los Angeles, and Jemma, a business development associate in Washington, D.C.

The family often plays tennis daily at the CCOC. Thompson has meshed well with the tennis community, coaching for CSS, Cheyenne Mountain High School and The Broadmoor. He’s taught tennis for more than 40 years, working with a number of successful pro players, including Stella and Pete Sampras.

For now, Maguire-Parsons doesn’t have any plans to stop hosting international students. Even after 15 years, the chance to make more connections pulls at her heart.

I love kids. I like that there are lots of learning opportunities and that things don’t always go right. It’s messy at times, but that is where resiliency and adaptability are born. Plus I love just being in the moment,” she said. “It is an incredible honor to co-parent with somebody who is far away. It’s such a tender time to help kids work through homesickness and to find out what they like and who they are. It’s a privilege to be a part of people’s lives.”

CSS' Joy Maguire-Parsons Opens Her Heart and Home