Shelly Lenhart is director of lower school admission at The Bolles School. She is responsible for introducing families to the Bolles “All Things Possible” approach to education and walking them through the entire admission process on both the Ponte Vedra Beach and Whitehurst campuses.
Tell me about your work, what kinds of things you oversee or do.
As the director of lower school admission, I am responsible for managing the entire admission process, starting from the first inquiry to the smooth integration of students into the school. This includes organizing admission events and working closely with the administrative team to effectively promote the school and attract new families while ensuring the satisfaction and retention of current ones.
Additionally, I provide campus tours to interested families, arrange shadow days for prospective students, coordinate admission testing and serve as an adviser to our student admission ambassadors.
When speaking with families about the school, what kinds of things do you try to emphasize?
At The Bolles School, we strive to support every aspect of our students' development. Our commitment to excellence is reflected in our exceptional curriculum, which is enhanced by our diverse and dynamic community that values and celebrates all cultures and beliefs.
As a true independent school, we have the flexibility to provide a stimulating academic program that prepares our students for success in both college and life. Our values of courage, integrity and compassion are woven into the fabric of our school culture.
In addition to our noteworthy academics, Bolles offers a wide range of opportunities for students to explore their passions and interests. We have top-rated athletic programs, a thriving performing and visual arts department and a variety of clubs and student-led initiatives. At Bolles, we believe in nurturing the whole student, and we are committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for all learners.
Do you have a philosophy about education you’d like to share?
I strongly believe that every child should receive an interesting and thought-provoking education. Bolles is committed to providing a dynamic and forward-thinking learning experience that stimulates curiosity and enthusiasm in our students. It is crucial to nurture this eagerness to learn so that students can continue to learn throughout their lives and feel a sense of accomplishment and happiness every day at school.
I prioritize high standards in teaching and learning and encourage students to take an active role in their education. Learning how to learn is just as important as acquiring knowledge and skills.
Bolles celebrates all forms of achievement and has high expectations for every student. While we strive for academic excellence, we also understand the importance of supporting our students' spiritual, emotional and physical development, which all contribute to their positive mental health and overall well-being.
Tell me a little about your background, your education and your career benchmarks and how they perhaps prepared you for the work you currently do.
I followed an unconventional path to education, graduating with a dual degree in marketing and management from the Coggin College of Business at the University of North Florida. I started my professional journey as the director of internal marketing for The Orthodontic Centers of America, based in Ponte Vedra. Later, I worked for the Florida House of Representatives as a district legislative secretary, where I worked closely with school districts and discovered my passion for education.
This led me to make the decision to pursue a career in teaching, which I have never regretted. I taught in Duval County for several years before being offered a teaching position at Bolles, where my life took a new turn. I spent a decade working as a classroom teacher at Bolles before being appointed as the director of lower school admission. Looking back, I feel that everything I have done professionally has led me to my current role, and I am grateful for the journey.
What do you like best about your job?
The best part of my job is being able to combine my passion for education with my love for Bolles. I enjoy meeting new families every day and sharing the value of an independent school education.
What do you like best about living here on the First Coast?
I am a resident of the First Coast and am proud to call it my home. This place has everything one could ever need, from the breathtaking beaches to the magnificent oaks that surround the St. Johns River. There are numerous museums to visit, restaurants to dine at, shopping centers to explore and recreational activities to partake in. I consider myself fortunate to have been born and raised here and to have raised my family in this beautiful part of Florida.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Currently, my husband, Brett, and I are relishing our empty nest stage of life after 33 years of marriage. We reside in Nocatee and cherish the many offerings of our community, along with spending quality time with our first grandchild. We share a passion for sports and love to attend concerts whenever possible.