The Bumpus family has a lifetime of ties to St. Bernard Academy.
As a young boy, John Bumpus watched five of his six sisters graduate from St. Bernard when it was an all-girls high school – one of whom eventually became a Sister of Mercy. In their later years, John’s parents welcomed another Sister of Mercy into the Bumpus family, and she became a virtual and valued sibling. John himself attended SBA for his initial elementary education. Then, he and his wife, May, chose SBA for their two children, Nan ’08, and Griffin ’12.
Among their many volunteer efforts as SBA parents, May served as co-president of the Home and School Association, and John was a member of the Board of Trust. Both Nan and Griffin excelled academically and were heavily involved in athletics and other extra-curricular activities.
In 2020, John and May continued their family’s legacy at St. Bernard Academy with a charitable gift to establish the Bumpus Family Special Events Fund. The fund’s mission is to provide experiential learning opportunities to enrich the lives of St. Bernard Academy students, faculty and staff.
Their deep roots at the school provided much of the motivation to make such a gift. However, they also recognized a need they could help fill.
“People often give to their university, or they give to their high school,” John said. “But very rarely do they give to their elementary school. That was an important thought for us as we considered this gift. SBA is such a special place for our family, so we wanted to do something that would make a lasting impact.”
Through the Special Events Fund, the Bumpus family intends to sponsor a variety of projects, events or activities where students, faculty, staff and other community members can learn through experience.
The first project: constructing a mosaic that depicts the history, symbolism and mission of both the Sisters of Mercy and St. Bernard Academy. SBA has commissioned Jairo Prado, a local Nashville visual artist, to design and install the mosaic using colorful porcelain and ceramic tiles. Composed of three separate arched panels, the mosaic will be mounted on the brick wall overlooking SBA’s central courtyard.
“Perhaps the most important piece of this project is that we plan to include all of our SBA families to help construct and install the mosaic,” said Carl J. Sabo, Head of School. “One of the goals of the fund created by the Bumpus family is finding new ways to teach the history of the Sisters of Mercy in addition to the history of SBA students, all while engaging our community at the same time.”
The family also hopes their gift will encourage others to consider giving back to their elementary schools.
“We believe that pre-K through 8th grade is really the foundation of education, and of life,” May said. “Our children were more than prepared to go to high school and college because of the unbelievable foundation they received at St. Bernard.”
John agreed: “We see the strength of that foundation now in the work they do every day.”
John and May’s gift is the largest donation the school has received in the 15 years since Mr. Sabo began his tenure.
“The Bumpuses were one of the first families to befriend and guide me when I arrived at SBA in 2006,” Mr. Sabo said. “The idea of a family giving back in such a significant way to their elementary school is rare in its occurrence. It touches my heart so deeply that they would support St. Bernard with this incredibly generous gift.”
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