11/11/19—Students at the Girls Academic Leadership Academy, Dr. Michelle King School for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (GALA) recently came to school early in the morning to watch NASA astronauts Jessica Mier and Christina Koch make history as they completed the first all-female spacewalk. The astronauts were dispatched from the International Space Station to replace a faulty lithium-ion battery, which the students watched live on NASA TV.
Samuel C. Gilstrap, the Los Angeles Unified School District public information officer, noted, “This is particularly meaningful to them as they are a STEM-focused school for girls.” The students were eager and excited to watch such a monumental moment in STEM history for women.
11/5/19—To honor the International Day of the Girl on October 11, The Girls’ School of Austin (GSA) held a Personal Care Supply Drive benefiting women and girls in the Austin area. Students, faculty, and staff donated baby supplies, sanitary products, and hair care during the one-day drive.
Most of the collected donations went to Posada Esperanza, a sister shelter to Casa Marianella for women and children serving displaced immigrants escaping from violence. GSA’s 8th grade is currently partnered with Posada Esperanza for a year-long service-learning project, so students delivered the supplies during their monthly volunteer visit. The students’ passion for giving back to their community will impact many women and girls throughout Austin, and their collective kindness will continue to benefit their school.
10/31/19—With profound optimism and excitement for The Madeira School’s future, the school’s Board of Trustees has unanimously appointed Gretchen Warner as Madeira’s tenth Head of School, effective July 1, 2020.
In addition to Warner’s passion for girls’ education, the Head of School Search Committee was drawn to her enthusiasm for community building, energy as a leader, and the dedication she has to innovative education. Warner currently serves as Director of the Upper School at The Archer School for Girls.
“I am honored and excited to become Madeira’s tenth Head of School,” said Warner. “I have dedicated my professional life to the empowerment of girls and women, and Madeira’s mission to ‘launch women who change the world’ resonates with me completely. I was immediately drawn to Madeira’s students, the community, and the commitment to Lucy Madeira’s founding values. The school so uniquely blends its rich history and heritage with a commitment to innovation and programmatic evolution—all based on best practices for girls’ learning.”
10/21/19—During the 2019-2020 school year, Western High School, which was founded in November 1844, celebrates its 175th anniversary, making it the oldest public school for girls in the United States.
In honor of Western’s remarkable legacy, the school has established the new Western High School Foundation through the Fund for Educational Excellence. From November 2019 through November 2020, Western alumnae volunteers seek to raise $175,000 for new initiatives to enhance the school’s academic progress, build a system for sustainable private funding, and upgrade the school’s facilities. The campaign is called Western 175 Years of Light in honor of the school’s motto, Lucem Accepimus, Lucem Demus, which means “We have received light; let us give light.” “That motto continues to guide Western High School girls in pursuit of their education, career success, and significance within their communities. Certainly, today we face challenges as a city school, however the spirit of Western High School—its students and alumnae, never dims,” said Principal Michelle White, herself a Western alumna.
10/18/19—The NCGS Board of Trustees recently welcomed close to fifty leaders from New York City area member schools for an evening of conversation. The crowd represented the diversity of NCGS—public, independent, charter, and religiously-affiliated school educators gathered.
After dinner, NCGS Executive Director Megan Murphy thanked everyone on behalf of the Coalition. “A coalition,” proclaimed Megan, “is different than an association.” As is often the case, Megan’s words carried great insight. Think about how we use those words when we convert “association” and “coalition” into verbs. When I associate with something, I imply both connection and distance. I can associate and disassociate with ease.
This feels different than coalescing, which signals ownership and a sense of being “all-in.” It suggests something grand and bigger than just one person. Coalescing lays a cornerstone for community. When we coalesce, we look across a table and we say, “Let’s do this!” What brought us together is important—important enough to do it together.
For me, this is always what has distinguished the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools. We rally around the fact that our over one million alumnae make their own choices and live their own lives, and we revel that the shared experience of being girls’ school alumnae creates a unique bond. At one level, our history is a shared one. Girls’ schools came to be, in part, because there weren’t equivalent places for girls elsewhere. When you graduate from a school that was founded to make things fairer for you, you are then able to do your part to make the world fairer for everyone.
The Nightingale-Bamford School’s mission is merely one case in point: we “inspire girls to go beyond barriers to advance the equity and betterment of all.” We are proud of these words and pursue them in a way that is unique to our school’s history, culture, and aspirations. We are also proud to coalesce with other girls’ schools in pursuit of our mission’s overarching ideals.
Next time you gather with girls’ school educators, take stock of it. Sense the camaraderie, the good thinking, the honest sharing. I feel it all the time when we are together at NCGS conferences and symposiums, when we make “headway” on videoconference calls, when we share research on how best to educate girls. When we gather under the banner of our Coalition, we do so with a sense that your good is also my good. And in my mind, this changes everything. I can then return to my school eager to do my part.
This year, the NCGS Board is focusing on coalescing around a strategic vision. NCGS is entering its third decade of being the leading advocate for girls’ schools, and the time is right.
We started the strategic visioning process by spending our first Board meeting of the school year pouring over your responses to the recent membership survey. Amidst a busy spring, so many of you paused to tell us what you thought. To return the favor, NCGS has put your ideas first. Megan and the Board assessed the Coalition’s current practices in light of your hopes. We will continue to do so until we coalesce around a vision that will carry us into our future.
True visioning that involves reaching towards collective destinations is not predetermined on day one. We will keep you updated as the planning proceeds. Regardless of where the strategic visioning process takes us, it’s clear we are doing it together. That is, after all, what you do when you are part of a coalition.
10/11/19—Gender is a matter that is close to home at NCGS member school St Stithians College just outside of Johannesburg in South Africa. The Girls’ College strives to grow strong and courageous young women who are destined for great things. St Stithians Girls’ College, with the full support of its Boys’ College, launched the #40DaysAtGC awareness campaign initiated, owned, and run by its student body.
Small acts and initiatives over 40 days are providing the St Stithians community with daily reminders, conversation openers, and opportunities to explore and better understand the rights of women and the desire of each one of us to live out our dreams without fear. This campaign is a step towards shifting attitudes, calling out behaviors, and actively working towards change.
Join them in actively working against gender discrimination and gender-based violence that plague our society.
10/10/19—The National Cathedral School (NCS) announced its Governing Board unanimously selected Dr. Elinor Scully as the 12th Head of School.
Currently serving as Head of The Langley School in McLean, Virginia, Elinor has emerged over the past several years as a nationally recognized thought leader in independent education, and in particular, in social and emotional learning. During the search process, Elinor impressed the Governing Board with her strategic vision for promoting a supportive school culture at NCS; developing each girl’s academic, emotional, and spiritual strengths; and supporting continued excellence in teaching and learning.
Elinor will begin her service at NCS on July 1, 2021. Sue Bosland, who formerly served on the NCGS Board of Trustees, joined NCS as the interim Head of School in July. In recognition of her service to the community, the Governing Board named Sue the 11th Head of School and she is extending her tenure at NCS through June 30, 2021.
10/9/19—More than 120 middle school students from the Julia Morgan School for Girls joined the international youth climate strike on September 20, 2019, rallying with handmade posters and enthusiastic chants along MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland, California.
Julia Morgan students participated in a presentation on climate change earlier in the month at an all-school assembly where they watched a video about Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist who has become a climate change spokesperson. Thunberg’s example inspired Julia Morgan students to join the international day of protest with support from their school.
“We saw how she led strikes at her school,” said Daphne B., an 8th grader. “We saw that if we all band together, we can make change.” Julia Morgan faculty, staff, and parents helped amplify the girls’ voices by supporting their involvement in a cause about which they are passionate.
9/30/19—Girls Preparatory School (GPS) welcomed back to campus Dr. Lisa Damour, Executive Director of Laurel’s Center for Research on Girls, psychologist, and New York Times bestselling author. Open to the public, Damour presented two sessions that provided fresh insights, advice, and conversation about her newest book, Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls.
In Under Pressure, Damour, author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions of Adulthood, returns with an urgently needed guide to the alarming increase in anxiety and stress experienced by girls from elementary school through college. She notes not all stress is bad. “Anything that asks us to work at the edge of our current capacity is stressful, but that’s how we learn and grow,” writes Damour. Under Pressure explores stress in all forms and details the many facets of girls’ lives where tension can take hold and offers critical coping strategies to help parents reduce their daughters’ anxiety and address the toxic pressures to which our culture subjects girls and young women.
GPS inspires each girl to lead a life of integrity and purpose by engaging her mind, cultivating her strengths, and nurturing her self-confidence and respect for others. Inviting groundbreaking authors such as Damour to campus aligns with the mission of the school and promotes conversations around why all-girls schools are essential in the world today.
9/26/19—Saint Joseph Academy’s (SJA) President Mary Ann Corrigan-Davis ’71 announced she will retire at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. She was named the first president of SJA in 2006.
“Leading SJA as president for the past thirteen years has been a blessing in my life, and I am so proud of the many achievements of SJA during my tenure, the culmination of a true team effort. The Academy’s exceptional curriculum, co-curricular and extra-curricular programs are second to none,” said Corrigan-Davis.
During her tenure, Corrigan-Davis worked to improve and evolve SJA through elevated academic offerings and programs, expanded arts and athletic teams, broadened professional and international opportunities for students, strengthened financial foundation, and improved physical facilities for the dynamic learning environment and growing enrollment of students.
Olivia M. ’19 proclaimed, “Every student at the Academy has individual interests and Mrs. Corrigan-Davis makes an effort to provide as much support and guidance as she can for each and every one of us. Without her encouragement, I never would have had the courage to work so hard to reach for the stars.”
8/16/19—Laura Farrell joined Merion Mercy Academy as Head of School on July 1, 2019.
Farrell assumed the role with more than 25 years of experience in education, most recently as the Dean of Faculty at NCGS member school St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, Virginia. At St. Catherine’s, Farrell helped develop many of the school’s signature programs, notably Girls Innovate and global education.
Farrell expressed her excitement to join a school that “lives its mission on a daily basis.” She shared, “Many schools talk about their mission, but at Merion, you truly see girls embrace it, and put it into action by how they treat others and serve those in need. I am learning so much about this warm and rich circle of mercy! … I look forward to working with the students and the faculty and the entire community and leading this community into the brightest and most dynamic future possible.”
8/14/19—Pamela Juan Hayes, Head of School at Sacred Heart Greenwich, has announced her plans to retire at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. Hayes, who has served as Head since 2009, was the school’s first lay person to serve in the role.
“Having been raised in the Sacred Heart network, I know the cores values of the school, guided by the goals and criteria, will live on no matter who serves as the school’s next head,” Hayes said in a letter to the Sacred Heart community. “During my tenure, I have had the privilege of working with the very best faculty and staff… Each day they inspire such intellectual curiosity in our students and truly cultivate an atmosphere of wise freedom.”
Under Hayes’ leadership, Sacred Heart experienced tremendous growth and development. She facilitated the purchase of the school’s land from the Society of the Sacred Heart, allowing for significant upgrades to its facilities, ranging from a new dining hall to athletic fields to library and classroom enhancements.Hayes also guided the creation of SophieConnect, an online learning environment that links Sacred Heart Network schoolsand prepares students for rigorous college curricula.
Christopher Ryan, board chairman, and Kathleen O’Connor, incoming board chairman, stated, “We are deeply grateful to Pam for her ten years of service here as Head of School and her more than 45 years of service to the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.”