My second visit in Mendota Heights (MN) was to Visitation School, where ISACS Past Board Chair Dawn Nichols is Head of School. In addition to time to check in with Dawn, I enjoyed a campus tour with Maureen Barry, Assistant to the Head of School, Parent Program Coordinator, and member of the Visitation Class of 1982. Hearing Maureen’s observations on both the school’s evolution over time and its enduring values offered an especially valuable perspective.
Founded in 1873, Visitation is an independent, Catholic school serving a co-ed student body in preschool through grade 6 and girls only in grades 7-12. As such, it is the only all girls’ secondary school in Minnesota. The school currently has the largest enrollment in its history. The 610 students come from the entire Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area and diverse socio-economic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.
The school is guided by a mission to provide an excellent education within a Catholic environment permeated by Salesian Spirituality – the charism of Saint Jane de Chantal and Saint Francis de Sales that places emphasis on virtues of gentleness, patience, humility, and liberty of spirit among others.
The Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary, who founded the school, continue to serve on the Board of Trustees and live on campus in the monastery that adjoins the school. They are visibly acknowledged as a part of the fabric of the school’s history in references throughout the campus including a striking display in the school’s main entry foyer.
What one aspect of Visitation would Dawn Nichols most like to highlight for her ISACS colleagues?
Visitation’s constituents are a strong faith community committed to the future of the school. Alumnae share an unusually strong connection to one another both outside of Visitation and through school sponsored activities. Alumnae frequently return to campus to visit former teachers, mentor students and support special programs. Last year’s pool of donors to the school increased by seven percent and donations to the annual fund grew by 12%.
(Photos courtesy of Visitation School.)