Holy Child Origins



Our Mission Statement

The mission of School of the Holy Child is to develop “women of conscience and action.” An all-girls, Catholic, independent, college-preparatory school for grades 5-12, the School is guided by the educational philosophy of Cornelia Connelly, the founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, and her dedication to “joy in teaching and joy in learning.” Accomplished and dedicated faculty members foster the spiritual development, individual talents and interests of each student.This is realized through rigorous and comprehensive academic, arts, athletics, service and global programs. Holy Child graduates are prepared for the innovative and critical thought necessary in a diverse, interconnected society.

Goals of the Network of Holy Child Schools

The following goals have been developed collaboratively by Holy Child educators. They are principles by which we teach students and, in doing so, continue our tradition.

Goal 1: Holy Child Schools foster a faith commitment that engenders a joyous personal relationship with God in addressing the challenges of the world.

Goal 2: Holy Child Schools live, learn, and worship as a dynamic Christian community.

Goal 3: Holy Child Schools offer an intellectually challenging and creative program of study that develops a love of learning and academic excellence.

Goal 4: Holy Child Schools work for Christian principles of justice, peace, and compassion in every facet of life.

Goal 5: Holy Child Schools create a learning climate based on trust and reverence for the dignity and uniqueness of each person.

Goal 6: Holy Child Schools promote the personal growth and development of all who participate in the life of the School.

Goal 7: Holy Child Schools ensure the continuation and growth of Holy Child's mission and philosophy in the School.



School of the Holy Child was established in 1904 as St. Walburga’s Academy in New York City. Girls and boys in grades kindergarten through grade twelve began classes on October 17, 1904.

In 1956, the Sisters purchased a 1930s Tudor-style mansion and the surrounding property in Westchester County where School of the Holy Child now exists. The new high school opened in 1957; and, although the mansion was beautiful, it was too small to accommodate the number of students and fulfill their extracurricular needs. Construction of a new addition, signaling Holy Child’s arrival in Westchester County, was completed in the late summer of 1959. It was “state-of-the-art.”

Over the course of the next thirty years, enrollment grew and the school continued to establish its presence in Westchester County. In 1992, the Sr. Jean O’Meara Middle School was added to the existing Upper School, and in 1995 the fifth grade was addedforming the independent school of today educating girls in grades 5 through 12. Since 2004, academic programs have been enhanced and upgrades made to the campus, including the construction of the Maureen Alison McGrath ’78 Memorial Library, as well as the addition of five classrooms, a large music room, a beautiful chapel, an art room, a new dining hall, and the “game-changing” Gryphon field.

Over the last several years, the diversity of the student body has expanded and student exposure to the full world around them has grown. Holy Child students have traveled around the world and visited Holy Child Network Schools in England, Ireland, France, Ghana and Nigeria, as well as welcomed girls from these Network Schools to Rye. Today, Holy Child students participate in Global Studies Programs in China, France, Italy and Spain, and service groups travel to the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Peru. In 2012, the school launched the Generoso Pope Italian Cultural Studies Program—a two-year program of language, history, research and study of Italian Culture which culminates in a two week summer trip to Italy for participating students. A year later, Holy Child received a grant from the E.E. Ford Foundation to expand the school's STEM program. Modeled after its humanities-based counterpart, the E.E. Ford Program in Architecture, Engineering and Design for the Common Good is a two-year program that focuses on the four areas of engineering, architecture and digital design.

Thanks to the generosity of dedicated donors, School of the Holy Child celebrated another significant milestone in the spring of 2015, when students, faculty and staff joined with trustees, alumnae, family, friends and local dignitaries for a Groundbreaking Ceremony for the construction of a new Field House, state-of-the-art Theatre and Design Studio for the E.E. Ford Program in Architecture, Engineering and Design for the Common Good.

Completed in the summer of 2015, the 22,000 square-foot Field House allows Holy Child teams to compete fully, fosters greater student participation in various activities, and provides a diversification of physical education classes. The Field House is home to the 11,000 square-foot Kelly Gymnasium, Giordano Fitness Center, Ciaccia Athletic Training Room, dance studio, locker rooms and The Kennedy Common Room. The state-of-the art Theatre was completed in January of 2016 and provides Holy Child students with a beautiful, new space that complements their exceptional talents.

In July of 2016, School of the Holy Child welcomed Melissa Dan, Ed.S as Head of School. She is a charismatic, collaborative leader with strong integrity and a vision for continued success.

Today, School of the Holy Child enrolls 355 young women and is one of 24 schools throughout the United States, Europe and Africa that makeup the Holy Child Network of Schools.



  • 1904: St. Walburga’s Academy [the school that would become Holy Child, Rye] is founded
  • 1957: The Society purchases property in Rye, NY
  • 1961: The freshman class of 1957 graduates after four years at the school’s new location
  • 1970: Holy Child established a Board of Trustees
  • 1982: Holy Child marks its 25th anniversary in Westchester County, NY
  • 1992: Sr. Jean Marie O’Meara Middle School opens
  • 1999: Ann F. Sullivan is named first lay Head of School
  • 1999: Laptop Program is established
  • 2003: Groundbreaking for the new Maureen Alison McGrath ’78 Memorial Library, new entrance, Upper School classrooms, music room and offices
  • 2004: Holy Child celebrates its Centennial Year
  • 2007: Holy Child celebrates 50 years in Westchester County with 333 students/Ribbon-cutting ceremony for Gryphon Field
  • 2010-11 school year: The School reaches peak enrollment of 345 students
  • 2012: Holy Child inaugurates the Generoso Pope Italian Cultural Studies Program with the Class of 2014
  • 2013: Receives grant from the E.E. Ford Foundation, starting a Program in Architecture, Engineering and Design for the Common Good
  • 2013: William C. Hambleton, Ed.D. named first male Head of School
  • 2014: iPad Program is added in the Middle School
  • 2015: Groundbreaking for the new Field House, state-of-the-art Theatre and Design Studio
  • 2015: The Field House and Design Studio construction complete
  • 2016: State-of-the-art Theatre opens
  • 2016: Melissa Dan, Ed.S. named Head of School
  • 2018: School leadership structure reorganized to a collaborative leadership model
  • 2018: Active learning furniture installed in all classroom spaces as well as the Maureen Alison McGrath '78 Library
  • 2019: Enrollment at an all-time high at 358
  • 2019: Woodwork restoration of the Mansion Lobby complete



Cornelia Connelly Center
New York, NY

Cornelia Connelly School of the Holy Child
Anaheim, CA

Connelly School of the Holy Child
Potomac, MD

Holy Child Academy
Old Westbury, NY

Holy Child Academy
Drexel Hill, PA

Mayfield Junior School of the Holy Child Jesus
Pasadena, CA

Mayfield Senior School of the Holy Child Jesus
Pasadena, CA

Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child
Summit, NJ

Holy Child School at Rosemont
Rosemont, PA

School of the Holy Child
Rye, NY


Holy Child College
Obalende, Ikoyi, Lagos

Holy Child Secondary School
Marian Hill, Calabar

Holy Child Model School
Otukpo, Benue State

St. Anne’s Secondary School
Otukpo, Benue State

Our Lady of Nigeria Primary School
Ogharike, Oghara, Delta State

Our Lady of Nigeria Secondary School
Ogharike, Oghara, Delta State

Dr. William Kupec Girls’ Academy
Agbaduma, Kogi State

Holy Child School
Cape Coast, Ghana

Holy Child College of Education
Takoradi, Ghana

St. Charles Lwanga School of the Holy Child
Walembele, Upper West Region of Ghana

Cornelia Connelly School of the Holy Child
Mempeasim, Cape Coast, Ghana

Cardoso Catholic Secondary School
Ajegunle, Lagos State


Ecole de Maillé
Créteil, France

Collége de Maillé
Créteil, France

Holy Child Community School
Sallynoggin, Dublin, Ireland

Holy Child School
Killiney, Dublin, Ireland

St Leonards-Mayfield School
Sussex, England

The Cavendish School
London, England

Priory School
Birmingham, England

St Mary’s Catholic College
Blackpool, England


Cornelia Connelly, an American-born wife and mother and a zealous convert became the founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in England in 1846.

Her sisters were primarily trained as educators, and her educational system was praised for its innovative and effective human methods.

The heritage of respect for the dignity of every human being, which Cornelia gave her community, has been translated through the generations as a spirit of trust and of reverence for all God’s people.

In 1862 six sisters from England took the Society to the United States, and initiatives of European and North American sisters followed in the next century. In 1930 three sisters brought the Society to Nigeria, and in 1967 four sisters began the Society’s life in Chile.

Today the Society is in North America, Africa, Europe, Latin and South America, and Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus live out the motto of the Society, “Actions Not Words,” in a variety of ministries living out religious life in the third millennium.