It has been a perfectly wonderful start to the 2018-19 school year at Mayfield Senior School. As I begin my fourth year as Head of School I feel a particularly focused and calm atmosphere here at 500 Bellefontaine. Perhaps our lovely Southern California weather that thankfully turned milder once the school year began has something to do with this. But I think it is really due to the incredible leadership that our seniors have already exhibited. I might be a bit biased because I count myself a member of the Class of 2019 as we started at Mayfield Senior School together. It has been a blessing beyond measure to watch this class blossom and flourish over the past three years—what an honor to be able to share their journey.
When I think about how far these young women have come and how very proud I am of their accomplishments it makes me appreciate in a deep way the importance of our all-girls Holy Child education, especially at this particular point in time. Our Foundress, Cornelia Connelly, created schools that more than ever “meet the wants of the age.”
This was abundantly clear to me as I joined with all Mayfield faculty and staff members as we prepare for our Holy Child Mission Effectiveness process. This effort calls on each Holy Child school to examine how it is meeting the seven goals of a Holy Child education every six years. As part of our process we read the original curriculum that Cornelia wrote for her schools back in 1863. Her Book of the Order of Studies in the Schools of the Holy Child Jesus, might sound and feel a little old fashioned—but in fact it was way ahead of its time. In this work Cornelia outlines her educational philosophy—one that cherishes, respects, and trusts the students. For Cornelia, the teacher’s job was not only about imparting information and building students’ skills, it was about helping each student grow into the person that God wants her to be through gentle attention and love.
In this time, when our girls are receiving such mixed societal messages, I know of no better educational environment in which to help girls grow into the strong, confident, wise, dedicated, and faith-filled leaders that our world needs so desperately. Over the summer our Administrative Team and the Academic Council read David Rock’s great book Your Brain at Work. Rock shows, in a very readable way, how important it is to learn in a safe, joyful, and kind environment. It turns out, there is extensive neurological evidence to back up Cornelia’s vision—our brains do work much better when we feel loved and supported!
So, I want to thank Cornelia Connelly with all my heart for challenging us to create an academic culture of kindness. What a gift she has given to our girls—and what a gift our girls give to the world. As my husband and I await the birth of our first granddaughter, we are also thanking God for the gift that our Mayfield girls will give to this precious baby—paving the road and leading the way for the future.
Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 21 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.