The Lion's Pride

Catherine McAuley High School - October 2015

McAuley to Become an Independent School July 1, 2016

Dear McAuley Community,

Happy fall! Each school year brings new beginnings, and the Trustees and administration of Catherine McAuley High School are excited to update you on a series of initiatives that will shape our future.

As you know, during the past year, McAuley has focused on “dreaming big” and taking the steps to make sure that we offer the best possible educational experience to the young women of Maine and beyond. Our efforts have included enhanced professional development for our teachers and staff, a rigorous curriculum review, meaningful leadership opportunities, new enrollment outreach and expanded financial access.

In addition, I want to share with you some important news from our Board of Trustees regarding a change in governance for McAuley. Beginning July 1, 2016, McAuley will become an independent, non-sectarian school. Together with the Sisters of Mercy, we have concluded that McAuley can best serve our students by ending our current governance relationship with the Sisters while continuing to honor Mercy values and traditions.

Regardless of the governance change, the legacy of the Sisters of Mercy will continue to be an important part of the McAuley experience. Sister Edward Mary Kelleher, Principal Emerita, shared her sentiments, saying, “The Sisters of Mercy will continue to keep McAuley in our hearts and in our prayers, even as the governance relationship ends.” As an independent school, McAuley will continue to welcome students of all faiths, encourage them to have a spiritual life, and provide a foundation of ethical and moral values. McAuley will remain on its historic campus and continue to embrace the traditions and events that make the educational experience unique and memorable for all young women. Religion classes, prayer services and even plaid skirts will continue.

This announcement comes as we explore a new partnership with the University of New England, which would allow McAuley students the opportunity to obtain UNE college credit for their McAuley courses, ultimately expanding the educational experience and providing an economic benefit to students by reducing their on-campus college costs. In addition, McAuley’s continued affiliation with Saint Joseph’s College is flourishing, providing faculty development opportunities in the areas of curriculum and assessment as well as experiential retreats for McAuley students.

Beyond its connection to UNE and Saint Joseph’s College, McAuley has redefined its commitment to STEM, empowering women to succeed in science, technology, engineering and math related fields. With the introduction and integration of religious inquiry and art to our STEM program, McAuley’s innovative

“STREAM” approach will include new classroom laboratories and initiatives to expand inquiry-based instruction. This will complement an interdisciplinary teaching method that combines the curiosity of students with the scientific method to enhance the development of critical thinking skills, ethics and creativity. This initiative is being funded by a leadership gift from McAuley’s strong and supportive community.

An important aspect of McAuley’s future plans involves our physical facilities, and we are pleased to be working with Sea Coast Management, the development company proposing the senior housing community on part of the property. Sea Coast and McAuley have agreed to enter into a long-term lease for a minimum of twenty-five years. We are optimistic about the opportunities that will result as part of a larger vision for the property, including a synergistic inter-generational community.

We are grateful to the Sisters of Mercy for providing such a strong foundation from which to build and grow. Mother McAuley’s sentiment that “No work of charity can be more productive of good to society… than the careful instruction of women” continues to be as relevant as ever. We will continue to welcome girls of all faiths and backgrounds to thrive in that vision.

For more information, you are invited to attend our upcoming Portland Alumnae Gathering this Monday, October 19, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Please RSVP to Victoria Abbott at or 207-797-3802 x 2017 by Friday, October 16 at noon. And please remember to bring prospective McAuley girls to our Open House on Sunday, October 25, at 1:00 pm.

We look forward to “Forging our Future” together. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Kathryn Woodson Barr, Head of School

Heidi Osborn, Board of Trustees Chair