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Farewell from Head of School Patty L. Fagin, PhD

As I sat down to write my final words to my beloved Stuart family, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of pride. We rarely reflect on the pivotal moments, meaningful relationships, remarkable achievements, and the hardest trials that define who we are and become part of our legacy. Now, as I head into retirement, I am humbled by the privilege of leading Stuart — leading you — these past twelve years. 

I am blessed to have joined a Sacred Heart family of students, parents, faculty, staff and alumnae deeply committed to developing young women for lives of exceptional leadership and service. I am in awe of a place where that mission is lived and invested in every day. Together we have robustly supported our girls’ success in science, technology and math and helped bridge gaps by seeing Stuart graduates pursue careers in STEM. We became one of the first schools to implement a one-to-one iPad program, create a MakerSpace for girls, begin a STEM endorsement program and host the #LEADLIKEAGIRL leadership conference just for girls. The conference, which attracted over 750 students from all over the country, provided student-driven workshops, presentations by top women in the STEM fields and awarded cash prizes for high-school aged girls’ for STEM and business research projects.

With #LEADLIKEAGIRL, we set out to change the lives of young women by providing them with the opportunity to discover their inner leaders and learn how to make a difference in their communities. The unprecedented success of the conference served as a catalyst in establishing the National Center for Girls’ Leadership at Stuart (NCGLS) to hone our leadership development programming and institute a K-12 curriculum that would serve as building blocks for sustainable leadership. Our girls’ growth in all aspects of leadership will be well documented in individual portfolios throughout their time at Stuart.

The world has changed, and so have we. What it means to be a leader has evolved significantly in recent years, and we have grown in our understanding of the critical importance of developing leaders who are culturally competent, culturally aware and able to foster an environment of belonging. Our work in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging began in earnest in 2011 and has grown to include a full-time director, regular training for faculty and staff, student course work and programming, parent affinity groups and community engagement and education. The work in DEIB is not just an initiative - it is the core of our Sacred Heart identity.

As a school leader with retirement on the horizon, having a world-wide pandemic bring closure to my career was not something I could have predicted, but we have overcome the greatest trial of our lives together. The last two years have taught us invaluable lessons about our need for personal connections, how to effectively use technology in creating virtual classrooms and enriching experiences, and the importance of investing in emotional wellness if our girls are to lead strongly in the midst of difficult times. 

We have accomplished so much together, and it has been my privilege to serve as your head of school. I will miss our students, who took advantage of every opportunity to grow as true children of the Sacred Heart. I look forward to hearing and sharing the many stories of what will continue to be an unstoppable spirit as our girls move forward, proud and confident in their Sacred Heart education. To my dedicated faculty and staff, you delivered the mission daily with a commitment and expertise that is truly exceptional and put our girls at the center of all you do. I am grateful to the Board for your endless support and to the alumnae for your wisdom and devotion to Stuart. I am eternally grateful to the Stuart families for your fervent partnership on this Sacred Heart journey. We were and will always be unstoppable together! 

And so I want to leave with you the parting words I gave the seniors at the end of Prize Day to signal the beginning of our travels to something new. I thought it was fitting to leave you with the words of our foundress, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat: “Go on advancing, you are on the true road. Remember it is not you who have taken it but God who has placed you there. Walk trustfully and may nothing in the world be able to dishearten you. Give your heart, once and for all to trust and love.”

I wish the Stuart community of the past, present and future all the best with what is yet to come. 

Click here for photos from the celebration of Dr. Fagin.