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Jaeger Family Spotlight: Catholic Education Connects Families and Keeps Them Involved

By Katlyn Putney (STM '10)

A member of the first four-year class of Thomas More, John Jaeger III (TM ’76) has returned to the halls of STM in a variety of roles, including alumni parent, board and committee member, donor, and most recently, strategic plan domain contributor.
A member of the first four-year class of Thomas More, John Jaeger III (TM ’76) has returned to the halls of STM in a variety of roles, including alumni parent, board and committee member, donor, and most recently, strategic plan domain contributor.

The root of his involvement boils down to Catholic education. “When I was looking at high schools, the biggest factor was that Thomas More was a Catholic school,” Jaeger recalled. “The idea that Catholic education was valuable was ingrained in our household.”

Having focused mostly on academics during his time at TM, Jaeger remembers the teachers who have since become legends of Thomas More. “The best teachers were Glyzewski, Zolecki, and Wishowski,” he said. “Those teachers were worlds above everyone else. On our first day of class, Zolecki goes, ‘I’m Mr. Zolecki, and you are so lucky to have me.’ I thought that was pretty funny, and he was right.”

When it came to choosing a school for their children – John Jaeger IV (STM ’10), Jenn (Jaeger) Stahr (STM ’12), and Peter Jaeger (STM ’14) – Catholic education was the biggest factor for Jaeger and his wife, Karen. “In the Catholic faith, schools are the best way to pass along the knowledge and traditions to the next generation,” Jaeger explained. “Putting our kids through Catholic school was a great way to help the faith stick around in our family.”

Jaeger referred to STM as a “land of opportunity” for his children. “We found that if our kids wanted to do something, they would get the chance because of the small and welcoming environment,” he said. “From baseball to bowling to tennis, our kids found success in athletics, which was great to see.”

The smaller environment of STM helped create closer bonds within the graduating classes, and two of the three Jaeger siblings married one of their classmates. John Jaeger IV is married to Ashley Kendzierski, and Jenn Jaeger is married to Jon Stahr. The influence of STM spreads throughout these extended families. Kendzierski has a sister, Kimberly (STM ’13), and cousins, Joey (STM ’19) and Johnny (STM ’24), who are Cavaliers. Stahr, whose father, Michael, is a 1980 graduate, is the school’s director of finance and boys’ soccer coach, and his sister, Katelyn (STM ’09), married classmate Kenneth Araya.

“If you are choosing your life partner, which is a big decision, from the group of kids you are in high school with,” Jaeger said, “then there is something positive going on here, and this environment is definitely something special.”

Nearly ten years after his son Peter graduated, Jaeger is still heavily involved at STM, using his 35+ years of professional experience in the financial lending industry to help further the school’s mission. In 2011, Jaeger was approached about joining the Cavalier Athletic Association as the parent representative for boys’ tennis. Then, he became the treasurer of that association and held that position until 2019, when he joined the Board of Directors. Now, he serves on the Board of Directors’ finance and investment committees and played a role in the creation of the 2023 Strategic Plan.

“I’m happy with my own personal experience and the experience my kids had, and I value Catholic education. Anything I can do to help or chip in ideas to ensure that Catholic education thrives through STM is worthwhile to me,” said Jaeger, who spent over 41 years in the banking industry and recently retired from Tri City National Bank, where he was the Vice President in Commercial & Retail Lending. “Our whole purpose of being here is centered on Jesus’s love for us, and the best way to perpetuate our faith is through our Catholic schools. It’s all about making sure that St. Thomas More can pass along the Catholic faith and traditions for generations to come.”

“John is one of many alumni – and in his case, parents of alumni – who continue to support St. Thomas More long after they or their kids graduate,” explained STM president John Hoch (TM ’87). “I think it speaks volumes about what we as an institution are all about. We provide a great high school experience academically, socially, and morally. In John’s case, I have been lucky enough to work with him both in my time as athletic director and president. He constantly asks very pointed questions and is willing to roll up his sleeves and give great effort to help the school reach its lofty goals.”

Jaeger saw the school fight through some tough financial times. “The financial side of the school is much more stable than when my kids were here,” he stated. “The financial improvements the school has made, along with the help of some incredible benefactors, have made all of the difference.”

Since Jaeger sent his first child to STM, the school has been able to provide financial aid to nearly 95 percent of students, repair and update key areas of the physical building, including a new roof and new windows, and increase the salaries of its dedicated faculty and staff.

“STM offers a space for students to find themselves as they become young adults while providing the tools for them to succeed going forward,” said director of finance and son-in-law of Jaeger, Jon Stahr (STM ’12). “We have been very fortunate that alumni like Mr. Jaeger want to use their skills and dedicate their time to help provide that experience and space for future students.”

“Things are in a good place at STM,” Jaeger concluded, “and I’m happy to help wherever I can.”
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St. Thomas More is a Catholic, coeducational high school that inspires students to embrace the values of our Patron Saint by becoming men and women for all seasons. Rooted in Christ and the Catholic tradition, the school community embodies the principles of Christian discipleship, service to others, and academic excellence.

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