Tales of Aardvarks and their adventures in the wider world
Learning responsibility & discovering "what you have to offer"
Now that she is back in Aspen, we have enjoyed seeing more of Jen Schumacher. She's part of the legendary Schumacher family, which had at least one student enrolled at the school over a period of 25 years (1985 to 2010).
Psychotherapist in private practice with Counseling Aspen, co-founded with her husband Max Mancini. Works with children, families, individuals, couples on a broad range of challenges. More at: counselingaspen.com
ACDS from PreKindergarten to Ninth Grade; graduated from Colorado Rocky Mountain School; gap year to teach skiing and attend National Outdoor Leadership School; BA in geography and environmental science from University of Denver in 2006; masters in counseling psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute.
First jobs: teaching kayaking & whitewater rafting. In 2008, Jenn and Max founded Life Turns, a non-profit camp that brings patients from Denver Children’s Hospital to the mountains for week-long camps that foster confidence and independence.
Thoughts on growing up at Aspen Country Day and...
Encouragement to try: "I will always just be grateful that I attended a school that not only valued teaching the academics but also fostered growth, creativity, imagination, and the willingness to learn and to participate in a wide variety of activities. Often people are scared to face new challenges because they’re not sure they’re going to succeed. At Aspen Country Day, we knew it was good to try, and fail, to learn from that, and to move forward. Sometimes I felt, ‘I’m struggling in math, but ok, we went and hiked Sopris and I helped by carrying my friend’s bag all the way to the top.' …There is a sense that you have more to offer than just getting an A on a paper or a math test."
School as family: "In Eighth and Ninth Grade, I was still really close with my preschool teacher, Karen Shore, and I would go down there once every few weeks to help her set up her classroom or just to visit. She was sort of my school mom. Every time I came home from college, I would go and read to my youngest brother Mikey’s class, bringing cookies for them. Going back to ACDS was part of the ritual of coming home."
Family at school: "When I was in Ninth Grade, let’s see: my brother John was a sophomore at CRMS. Chris was in Third Grade, Meg was in First, Molly in PreK, and Mikey was a baby."
Appreciation: "While I feel Country Day prepared me for all my future academic endeavors, the thing I most appreciate is how it prepared me, in such a well rounded way, for all sorts of obstacles and challenges, whether they be physical, educational, or career wise."
No limits: "At ACDS, gender never limited my dreams. There were so many talented, educated women who inspired me and other girls. On our backcountry ski trip to the Shrine Mountain Inn, Huffy had an award for whoever got to the top fastest. It just never would have occurred to any of us that a boy might be more likely to get that award than a girl. I thought, 'I’m getting that one.'" (And she did.)
Favorite memory: "In English class, we could each pick a spot on campus to go and write. I had a spot down by the river, and it was only later that I realized that my peers who went to other schools didn’t necessarily have the freedom to do that kind of imaginative writing. Taking time out to read, write, and reflect is still an important part of my life."
Responsibility: "You’d say, 'Well, I might not be able to do this or that, but I know I can go canoeing all by myself and put everything away where it belongs. And skiing, I can carry all my gear, and if I want it to be dry tomorrow, I have to hang up my coat and mittens.' When I went to high school, there seemed to be a lot of kids who didn’t seem to know how to do anything without their parents or teachers around. You learn responsibility from a well-rounded education like this, where you are given the opportunity to try, to fail, to grow."
Blue Team or Green Team? "Green!"