When Steve Cornish arrived on campus in 1983, little did he know that it would be just the beginning of a long connection to the School. What he didn’t know then that he certainly knows now is that SSM has a certain pull on a person – a pull that can shape not just one life, but also the life of a family. Back in 1983, Steve Cornish was hired to teach math, photography, computer programming, coach soccer and track, and even direct the occasional play. He must have found SSM to his liking because he stayed until 1992.
By then, he had met his future spouse, Michele, while coaching at a soccer camp in Vail, Colo. They were married in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd by Fr. Doyle in 1993, a year after they had moved to Asheville, N.C. to assume head coaching positions at UNC-Asheville.
However, it was a stopover visit during a three-week road trip in 2003 that left a lasting impression on the Cornish clan, which had grown to include two children - Cameron and Cheyney. Michele recounts the scene. “We stopped at SSM for three days to visit with friends and stayed with the Frankenfields in the Lodge. The kids were little and we had them convinced that we were visiting Hogwarts. A lasting impression for me on that SSM visit was sitting in Frankie and Kelly’s kitchen, drinking coffee, and Phil Trout just popped in and had some coffee with us. It was a simple moment, one that shouldn’t have been anything remarkable, but it was for me. The sense of community that I felt that morning was palpable and I’ve never forgotten it. I remember telling Steve how much I valued that time and that I would love for our kids to grow up with that. Steve remembers it well too. It’s amazing that we are all here now.”
It was in 2010 that a tug back to SSM occurred. Michele and Steve each had conversations with Nick Stoneman while back on campus to recruit players during soccer showcase events. Nick used his great powers of persuasion to plant the idea for a Cornish family return to campus. They interviewed during Easter weekend and decided that coming back to SSM was an opportunity that they could not pass up.
Steve has stayed put at SSM since 2010, coaching soccer, teaching math, and now chairing the math department. He is still very involved with ODP (Olympic Development Program) on a regional and international level. Michele headed to Macalester College in 2012 to serve as
Women’s Soccer Head Coach. She returned to SSM in May 2018, thanks again to a nudge from Nick, and is SSM’s Athletic Director.
As for Cameron and Cheyney, they arrived at SSM in their teens and have been able to create their own SSM stories while also staying connected through various part-time positions on campus. Cameron is a member of the Class of 2013. After graduating from Luther College, he is working as a mental health practitioner and has plans to pursue a master’s degree in school counseling. “I remember how every day at lunch I would count how many nationalities were represented at the table where I was eating,” remembers Cameron. “Once in a while, every seat would be taken by someone from a different country with no two seats representing the same country. It’s a strange but exciting thing to be able to share and listen to stories with people from across the globe because, in a way, you get to travel to that person’s country when speaking to them. To this day I am still very grateful for everything Shattuck has done for me and without it, I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today. Not even close. I will no doubt carry these invaluable experiences with me throughout my entire life.”
Cheyney is a member of the Class of 2016 and is majoring in anthropology at Macalester College in St. Paul. She recalls the challenge to adapt to her family’s new home. “Being at SSM initially was rough, and I really did not want to be there at all. I had just moved from everything I had known and wasn’t willing to give the School a chance, but as I went through the grades, Shattuck gave me the ability to grow beyond anything I would have been able to do in North Carolina. The School gave me opportunities to cheer on my friends as they would play in (and win) hockey nationals, it gave me the ability to perform alongside my peers, it gave me the ability to discover my passion for learning about different walks of life and different cultures, and it allowed me room to grow creatively, academically, and emotionally, and without SSM, I would not have the passions or connections I have today.”
Returning to 1983, it would have been difficult for Steve Cornish to imagine life today back at SSM. For Michele, there is immense gratitude when considering the 36-year SSM connection. “Shattuck-St. Mary’s changed the trajectory of our family entirely. We are all extraordinarily thankful for the opportunities SSM has given us and are proud to call SSM home!”