Middle School at Marymount
in the fourth through seventh grades at the Marymount School are
moving into bright new quarters in the fall. The independent Catholic
girls’ school (nursery through 12), now housed in three beautiful
adjacent townhouses on Fifth Avenue, has acquired and is renovating
a Beaux Arts building on nearby East 82nd Street which will serve
Middle School students exclusively.
As explained by headmistress Sister Kathleen Fagan, this is an
effort to give youngsters in a sometimes difficult stage of life
“a special place where they can shine.” The school will be a blend
of the old and the new, a self-contained unit with its own program,
faculty, dining hall and commons, library, science lab, computer
center, and technical facilitator. A special advising system is
being established. The students will interface with girls from
the upper and lower schools in shared use of the chapel, gym,
and assembly as well as in school service programs. The addition
of a building, more a reflection of the need for “breathing room”
following several years of increased enrollment than of plans
for further growth, will be followed by incremental renovations
of the original mansions including expansion of dining, library,
technology, music, drama, and art facilities.
Though the stately buildings recall another era, the activities
within are cutting edge. Don Buckley, director of technology at
Marymount, oversees integration and faculty development. The key,
he says, “is to get teachers to discover what technology works
for them and get them to run with it.” The school has grant money
to reward teachers who come up with interesting proposals about
classroom applications. Marymount conducts summer technology workshops
open to professionals from other institutions. Utilizing online
learning, it was the first school in Manhattan to enroll students
in a Columbia University course in Java, a computer language.
Technology is introduced in kindergarten and, as they advance
in grade, pupils do everything from creating fictitious online
businesses to making videos of frog dissections.
Marymount is part of a religious order founded in Beziers, France
in 1849. It is devoted to education and today has schools in 14
countries. They are not parochial (church or parish affiliated).
Marymount, New York is part of a network that includes schools
in London, Paris, Rome, and Los Angeles. Representatives of network
institutions meet annually and set goals and objectives. Each
has an implementation committee. Instilling values is central
to the school mission, and each year a particular value, such
as the current “Unity Through Diversity,” is chosen by the network
for special focus. Recognizing changes in the Church and society,
the network is presently developing plans to pass the schools
on to lay leaders. In New York, only three sisters remain on a
faculty of 75. As fewer people choose a religious life and the
community work that needs to be done grows, schools that lose
clergy must transfer their governance or close down. Marymount
New York has been administered by a lay Board of Trustees since
1969, but has continued to be headed by clergy. Headmistress Sister
Kathleen welcomes the coming changes noting that, previously clergy
were considered an elite class, but now we are all equal in our
possibilities of goodness.#
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