As the Director of Academic Advising and Librarian at Oakcrest School, Catherine Scalia Courtney loves introducing students to the many wonders of the school’s rich liberal arts curriculum as she assists them in making decisions about their studies.
Mrs. Courtney oversees the College Counseling office, bringing her years of experience to this important role. She’s enthusiastic about her work. “I think Oakcrest students are wonderful, so I am looking forward to helping them navigate school and hopefully making it a little less overwhelming. I hope to let students know how much Oakcrest is ready to support them academically, personally, and spiritually.”
Mrs. Courtney attended the University of Virginia, where she earned a B.A. in Classics. After graduating she worked at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her job involved helping to review grant applications from universities, colleges, and independent libraries. This inspired her to eventually pursue a Masters in Library Science from the University of Maryland. She then worked as a reference librarian at Mobil Oil Corporation and the Williamsburg Regional Library.
It will come as no surprise that Mrs. Courtney grew up surrounded by wonderful books.“My mother introduced me to so many incredible female authors when I was growing up—Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, Louisa May Alcott, of course. I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn countless times,” she says. In addition, she cites Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, and Joan Aiken as authors who captivated her childhood imagination. As an adult, she developed a special love for a collection of Flannery O’Connor’s letters called The Habit of Being and Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety.
Mrs. Courtney’s passion for sharing the joy of reading thrived as she raised her six children. She made sure that they were surrounded by many literary classics as they grew up and made time to volunteer at their school library. In 2018 Mrs. Courtney joined the Oakcrest staff as Librarian and her daughter joined the Class of 2024. “I knew it was the right time, and I was being called to be here,” she says. “It’s been wonderful to discover Oakcrest together with my daughter.”
Catherine oversaw an exciting acquisition of over 400 books for the library, many which were donated by the Class of 2016. She was able to add a wide range of titles to Oakcrest’s shelves, on everything from art to technology to fiction. She uses book reviews such as the American Library Association’s magazine, Booklist, and School Library Journal, to decide what acquisitions to make, but says that the best recommendations are always from Oakcrest parents, teachers, or students. She also succeeded in providing new and expanded research tools for all students, including the research platform NoodleTools.
Mrs. Courtney loves how God is at the center of everything Oakcrest—figuratively and literally. “My absolute favorite thing about Oakcrest is sitting in the library with a view of the chapel,” she says. “It doesn’t get much better than that!”