Convent of the Sacred Heart, 91st St | New York, NY | Head of School

Founded in 1881, Convent of the Sacred Heart, 91st Street, is New York City’s oldest independent, all-girls school serving grades Pre-K–12. As a Catholic, independent and Sacred Heart institution, the school’s mission calls for the creation of a welcoming and inclusive community where each student is empowered to find and share her passion and purpose.

Convent of the Sacred Heart seeks its next Head of School to begin July 2023. The successful candidate will be an experienced leader devoted to the School’s mission, Goals and Criteria, and programs. The Head of School will report to the Board of Trustees and provide leadership for the professional community of 250 faculty and staff, overseeing all elements of the student experience. Sacred Heart is seeking a leader who is inspiring, engaging, accessible, and able to connect with students, faculty and staff, parents, trustees, alumnae, and the broader community. This is an exceptional opportunity to lead a school that is confidently ready to face the future with an unwavering commitment to its mission.
Date Posted: 2/28/2022

Date Accepting Applications Through: 9/1/2022

Job Title: Head of School

Full or Part Time: Full Time

Convent of the Sacred Heart
New York, New York
Head of School
Start Date: July 2023

Founded in 1881, Convent of the Sacred Heart, 91st Street, is New York City’s oldest independent, all-girls school serving grades Pre-K–12. As a Catholic, independent and Sacred Heart institution, the school’s mission calls for the creation of a welcoming and inclusive community where each student is empowered to find and share her passion and purpose.

Comprising three academic divisions-the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools-as well as a cross-divisional Athletics & Wellness program, Sacred Heart offers a student-centered educational experience with a rigorous academic curriculum, complemented by rich co-curricular and extracurricular activities. In an environment where each student is known and valued, students gain the confidence and critical life skills needed to thrive as leaders in a rapidly changing global community.

Convent of the Sacred Heart seeks its next Head of School to begin July 2023. The successful candidate will be an experienced leader devoted to the School’s mission, Goals and Criteria, and programs. The Head of School will report to the Board of Trustees and provide leadership for the professional community of 250 faculty and staff, overseeing all elements of the student experience. Sacred Heart is seeking a leader who is inspiring, engaging, accessible, and able to connect with students, faculty and staff, parents, trustees, alumnae, and the broader community. This is an exceptional opportunity to lead a school that is confidently ready to face the future with an unwavering commitment to its mission.

Sacred Heart has flourished under its current Head of School, Dr. Joseph Ciancaglini. Since 2007, he has expertly guided 91st Street through periods of great change and growth. Always thoughtful, sensitive, and keenly aware, he possesses an innate ability to ground every decision in the Goals and Criteria, a testament to his overarching commitment to the Sacred Heart Network and mission. He has led with compassion, decisiveness, and discernment, and his openness to change has given the community courage and confidence as it has navigated a pivotal time in the school's history.

Dr. Ciancaglini’s remarkable tenure has brought about many great accomplishments. His vision for academic excellence was achieved by smart investments in state-of-the-art facilities, faculty development, classroom resources, and new programs such as Exploring Entrepreneurship, the recent collaboration with the Sacred Heart school in Atherton, CA. Under his headship, 91st Street's endowment has quadrupled to more than $80 million. The Campaign for Sacred Heart resulted in the most successful capital campaign in the school's history, yielding nearly $60 million for building and endowment, and expanding the school’s footprint to include the impressive Athletics and Wellness facility at 406 East 91st Street. In 2017, the school launched its Higher Excellence capital campaign, which will conclude in 2023. The effort includes both endowment and facilities, highlighted by FutureLab, the renovation and expansion of spaces and programs devoted to technology and innovation.

At the heart of our philosophy is the belief that each child possesses unique gifts. Our Mission is to unearth those gifts, nurture them, and empower each child of the Sacred Heart to share those gifts with the global community.

As a member of the international Sacred Heart network, we are committed to live the five Goals and Criteria shared by all Sacred Heart schools.

1. Goal One: a personal and active faith in God.
2. Goal Two: a deep respect for intellectual values.
3. Goal Three: a social awareness which impels to action.
4. Goal Four: the building of community as a Christian value.
5. Goal Five: personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom.

At a Glance
Founded: 1881
Total students: 690
Students of color: 36%
Non-Catholic students: 30%
Total faculty: 144
Faculty of color: 32%
Faculty with advanced degrees: 89%
Student/teacher ratio: 6:1
Financial aid budget: $5.9M
Students receiving aid: 20%
Endowment: $82.4M

School History
Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (RSCJ), was known to have said, “For the sake of one child, I would have founded the Society.” These words have guided Sacred Heart education since the early 1800s when she established the first of these schools in France. Today, the Sacred Heart Network has grown to include 25 Sacred Heart schools throughout North America and over 150 schools internationally.
With a vision of empowering students to maximize their unique potential to make a difference in the world, the RSCJ opened the Convent of the Sacred Heart at the corner of Madison Avenue and 54th Street in 1881. The school saw rapid expansion and relocated to the Otto Kahn Mansion on East 91st Street in the 1930s to accommodate the growing student body. Within ten years, Sacred Heart acquired the building next door, the James Burden Mansion. The school has been housed in these two beautiful landmarked buildings ever since, providing an extraordinary learning environment for its students.
In 2008, after decades of tremendous academic progress, the school acquired a new building at 406 East 91st Street. Thanks to an ambitious capital campaign and the generosity of the 91st Street community, the school was able to unveil its new Athletics and Wellness Center in August 2014. With a regulation-size pool, a regulation-size basketball court, and a full floor devoted to health and wellness, the four story, 60,000-square-foot facility marked a new chapter in the school’s history.
Today, 91st Street is a vibrant, mission-driven community that empowers each young woman to share her passion and purpose. Sacred Heart celebrates its heritage and traditions as it strives for higher excellence and pursues a bold vision for the future.

The School
Sacred Heart is governed by a strong commitment to educate the whole child, addressing her intellectual, spiritual, social, and emotional development while connecting her to a large global network of Sacred Heart Schools. Steeped in history and spiritual traditions, the school embraces education with a well-designed, rigorous curriculum equipped for 21st century learners. Through its focus on academic excellence, dynamic extracurricular programs, service learning opportunities, and global experiences, every girl is encouraged to find her unique voice as she gains awareness on ways to impact and influence the larger community.
Sacred Heart believes that diversity is essential to its students’ education as they prepare to live and work in an evolving world. Sacred Heart’s mission-aligned philosophy guiding its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts is Intertwining Vines. Guided by the Goals & Criteria and Intertwining Vines, the school continues to evaluate the student experience to ensure that it is anti-racist, fair, inclusive, and welcoming to everyone. As a Sacred Heart school, we find it important to recognize the centrality of equity and belonging in integrating all of our members into the community—and ensure that it attracts and centers students and professionals of diverse identities, races, ethnicities, faiths, and backgrounds. The school prepares students to be active, responsible citizens in their communities and beyond.
Convent of the Sacred Heart is entering the final year of its five-year strategic plan, Higher Excellence, that established a bold vision for the future. Launched in 2017, the plan is built on four core pillars: Strengthening a Firm Foundation, Striving for Higher Academic Excellence, Affirming its Place in the Global Society, and Investing in People.
In addition to being a part of the Network of Sacred Heart Schools, 91st Street is also a member of the National Association of Independent Schools and is accredited by the New York State Association of Independent Schools. As a Sacred Heart school, 91st Street is accountable to the Society of the Sacred Heart for adherence to the Goals and Criteria through the Sacred Heart Commission on Goals (SHCOG) evaluation process every five years.

Recognized for its rigor and depth, the academic curriculum emphasizes skills essential for students’ success, including analytical thinking and creativity, adaptability and resilience, and leadership and ethical judgment.
Students develop a strong foundation in the humanities along with an interdisciplinary study of STEAM, giving them the opportunity to observe, discover, analyze, create, and design, further fostering their abilities to navigate complex problems. Small class sizes promote close-knit student-teacher relationships. The expert faculty are committed to challenging each student to step outside of her comfort zone and take risks as she develops independent thinking and problem-solving skills.
In the Lower School (Pre-K–grade 4), students are introduced to STREAM (science, technology, research, engineering, art, and math) to build on a child’s natural curiosity. Each subject is an access point for guiding student inquiry and problem solving through hands-on, project-based learning. Students build self-confidence and competency as they develop a life-long love for learning. At the earliest ages, a major goal is to develop a child’s social-emotional skills, so she can express herself and learn how to communicate effectively. The program supports the emotional and intellectual needs of each child and fosters her growth in self-awareness and empathy. An emphasis is placed on literacy as students in this level develop a love for reading, writing, and public speaking. Beginning in Kindergarten, students take additional core classes including world language (French or Spanish), social studies, physical education, drama, music and religion. A rich and varied curriculum promotes students’ intellectual development. Students grow more socially aware as they study how their actions affect the greater world in which they live. The Lower School promotes the crucial foundational skills of character development, emotional intelligence, healthy habits, and study skills. Many families also take part in vibrant and varied After-School Program and Extended Day offerings.
Students in the Middle School (grades 5–8) engage in a balanced curriculum of academic content and skill development. As these years are a period of rapid growth and self-discovery, students begin to navigate the world around them independently, and are empowered with strategies and opportunities to be resilient, ethical decision-makers and confident, well-spoken young women. Students focus on core classes in English, world languages (French, Spanish, and Latin), mathematics, science, social studies, religion, visual and performing arts, and physical education with additional classes in technology. By grade 8, students apply their critical thinking skills and hone expository writing skills; they explore advanced topics while also learning to apply principles for moral decision-making to scenarios and cases drawn from daily life. Through technology courses, students are taught digital citizenship, computational thinking, and operational use. Understanding that this is a transformative age for young girls, the Middle School takes an intentional approach to social and emotional wellness.
In the Upper School (grades 9–12), the curriculum allows each student to pursue her passions and explore new areas of interest. With 90 courses across a range of disciplines, the Upper School provides a strong academic foundation for college success and the opportunity for a highly individualized course of study. Foundational courses in the 9th and 10th grades prepare students for a wide variety of elective courses in 11th and 12th grades. Upper School students interested in entrepreneurship have the unique opportunity to learn directly from industry leaders and Sacred Heart alumnae during a two-week summer program, Exploring Entrepreneurship, with the Sacred Heart School in Atherton, California and in NYC, followed by an 11th-grade seminar curriculum and a three-week hands-on intensive experience the following summer. The school’s mission is reflected in the myriad opportunities for students to engage in direct advocacy and global awareness. In grade 10, students focus on social justice issues as they pursue year-long community service projects. They can also choose to study abroad at one of the many international Network schools. For over 40 years, more than 2,500 students from Sacred Heart Schools in the United States have taken part in the Sacred Heart Visiting Students Program. Future projects include service learning experiences to Peru and India. At the culmination of their student experience, seniors pursue a mission-based capstone project, conducting in-depth research and analysis on a subject of their choosing.

College Matriculation
Beginning in grade 9, students actively engage in college counseling in which dedicated counselors guide each student through the selection and application process. Students from the Classes of 2017-2021 have matriculated at the following colleges and universities, including the following:

American University
Amherst College
Barnard College
Boston College
Bucknell University
Colgate University
Columbia University
Cornell University
Dartmouth College
Duke University
Fordham University
Georgetown University
Harvard University
Ithaca College
Johns Hopkins University
Lehigh University
McGill University
Middlebury College
New York University
Oberlin College
Pratt Institute
Rhode Island School of Design
Southern Methodist University
Stanford University
Syracuse University
Trinity College Dublin
Tufts University
Tulane University
The University of Alabama
University of Notre Dame
University of Pennsylvania
University of San Diego
University of Saint Andrews
University of Southern California
University of Virginia
Villanova University
Wake Forest University
Wesleyan University
Yale University

The Arts
From Pre-K through grade 12, the visual and performing arts at Sacred Heart give students multiple opportunities to develop skills to observe and interpret the world, hone their creativity, and express their unique voice. Students benefit from experienced faculty, many of whom are accomplished artists and performers themselves.
The Visual Arts program fosters creative visual expression through disciplined work to develop each young woman’s unique talent. Each division has its own arts studio overlooking Central Park. Course offerings include foundations, sculpture, photography, ceramics, painting, drawing, and film and video.
Lower School students develop poise, confidence, and resilience through a strong Performing Arts curriculum in music, drama, and dance. The school also offers Middle and Upper School students a wide array of electives such as Chorus, Madrigals, and Orchestral Ensemble. Students grades 5-12 may also elect to participate in multiple musicals and plays throughout the year.
The Sacred Heart physical education and athletics program is an integral part of the school’s mission to help form the whole child. Beginning in the Lower School, girls are introduced to physical education programs aimed to instill in each student a lifelong appreciation of health, wellness, and physical fitness.
Girls in grades 5-12 can participate on a variety of athletic teams and cultivate their passion. Teams include badminton, basketball, cross country, lacrosse, squash, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. Through participation in interscholastic athletics, students build character as they learn to collaborate, grow in confidence, and establish lasting friendships. The school participates as a member of the AAIS Athletic Conference and NYSAIS at the state championships level. Sacred Heart athletes have attained 15 conference championships over the past several years. They are recent AAIS Champions in both Varsity and Junior Varsity Basketball, and the reigning seven-time AAIS Champions in Swimming. Each year, Sacred Heart graduates go on to play college-level athletics.

School Life
Clubs play a significant role in the development of Sacred Heart students, allowing them to explore their interests outside of academics and to gain leadership skills. Lower School after school activities include the stock market game, chess, yoga, robotics, sculpture, golf, fencing, coding, chemistry, and swimming. The Middle and Upper Schools provide myriad clubs and activities; leadership opportunities abound and include running an organization, captaining a sports team, and mentoring young students. One of the most popular extracurricular activities for Upper School students, the forensics team, stems from the school’s emphasis on public speaking beginning in kindergarten. In fact, 20% of Upper School students compete in local, state, and national championships.
The school is committed to serving its community and developing socially responsible young women ready to step into the world and make an impact. Fulfilling this mission is why community engagement plays an integral role in student life at Sacred Heart. Through Lower and Middle School, students progressively build a social awareness, grow in compassion and understanding, and learn how they can draw upon their skills to impact and influence the larger world.
In Upper School, each student engages in a unique two-year Social Justice program that requires immersion projects, a more sophisticated and committed level to service initiatives. The program not only provides transformative experiences for both students and people in the communities they serve, but also propels students to emerge as leaders creating positive, faith-based change at the local, national, and global level.
Important in the life of the school are two standing councils: the Heritage and Spirituality Council and Awareness Council. Each is composed of five faculty and staff members from different divisions of the school. The Heritage and Spirituality Council creates programs that explore and deepen understanding of the heritage, spirituality, and traditions of Sacred Heart education, and of the founding order (the RSCJ). In a similar way, The Awareness Council works alongside the DEI team to develop spaces and protocols for affinity groups across constituencies, lead workshops on pedagogy and curriculum development, and build DEI resources and learning tools.

Campus and NYC Location
Convent of the Sacred Heart is in two historic mansions (100,000-square-feet between the Kahn and Burden Mansions at 1 and 7 East 91st Street) in the Carnegie Hill historic district in Manhattan and a second campus that houses the School’s Athletic and Wellness Center at 406 East 91st Street. By September 2022, the school will have completed and added the transformative FutureLab spaces within the main campus including eleven new classrooms and labs, two Makerspaces, a digital media lab, new faculty offices, student spaces, a renovated cafeteria and an atrium connecting the two buildings. All three divisions have access to the state-of-the-art 60,000-square-foot Athletics and Wellness Center (406 East 91st Street) which houses a six-lane regulation size swimming pool, regulation-size gymnasium, dance and fitness studios, strength and conditioning studio, and athletic training rooms.

Sacred Heart’s location on the Upper East Side of New York City offers a neighborhood feel in the heart of one of the world’s most exciting and diverse cities. Central Park is just across the street, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum are only a few blocks away, and easy access to public transportation can take you anywhere within the five boroughs, from which many of our students commute each day. Beyond New York City, Connecticut, Westchester, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and New Jersey are easily accessible by train or car.

Opportunities and Challenges
Convent of the Sacred Heart is one of the leading independent schools in New York City; it is a model for educating young women and for preparing them for success in the world. Additionally, it is viewed as a leader in the Network of Sacred Heart Schools and is an active member in all the Network’s programs. Convent of the Sacred Heart now seeks a Head of School who will advance the School’s mission and serve as a collaborative and uplifting leader for the entire School community.
In addition to being actively engaged in the daily life and operations of running this distinguished and complex Pre-K–12 school, the new Head will be expected to:
● Continue to center all decision-making in the Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria;
● Ensure that the academic program stays at the highest level for all students;
● Maintain and build curricular continuity across divisions;
● Sustain the work that Sacred Heart has embarked on with regard to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, grounded in the Goals and Criteria;
● Employ great skill in navigating differing perspectives;
● Continue collaborations with the Network of Sacred Heart Schools to expand unique programming opportunities;
● Build on the School's traditions and history with innovation;
● Enhance marketing to communicate the joys and successes of 91st Street to the greater community;
● Articulate the value proposition of the school to address financial sustainability issues such as tuition, enrollment management, and the optimization of facilities;
● Provide the necessary support to all faculty and staff, keeping in mind the pursuit of excellence by the School, the complexities of living and working in New York City, and the need for wellness that Covid-19 has brought to the forefront.

Desired Qualities and Qualifications
The Search Committee will consider a wide range of accomplished educational leaders for this role. Candidates who are most likely to advance will offer many of the following qualifications and qualities:
● A visible and accessible leader with a proven track record of success;
● A deep understanding of and commitment to all-girls’ education;
● A Catholic, ready to embrace and prioritize the Goals and Criteria of the Sacred Heart mission;
● Superb oral and written communication skills, and the ability to engage with various members of the community in small and large settings;
● An eagerness to work with faculty and administrators to plan for and execute a pedagogy and curriculum that evolves to meet the needs of graduates in a Pre-K–12 academic program;
● Commitment to lead the community, consistent with Intertwining Vines and Catholic Social Teaching, to educate students to analyze and work to eradicate social structures, practices, systems, and values that perpetuate racism and other injustices, as expressed in Goal 3, Criteria 3 of a Sacred Heart Education and in line with the school’s ongoing DEI initiatives.
● A strategic thinker, who, along with the Board of Trustees and the senior leadership team, will address the challenges of cost, access, and enrollment facing independent schools in New York City;
● Experience with fundraising to benefit the needs of the School going forward;
● Educational leadership and management experience, including the ability to supervise individuals and to structure and manage systems of organization and accountability;
● A thoughtful and reflective listener, who is courageous, respectful, and kind.

To Apply
Interested and qualified candidates are invited to contact the consultants in confidence. Candidates will ultimately need to submit the following materials as separate PDF documents:
● A cover letter expressing their interest in this particular position;
● A current resumé;
● A packet of three writing samples or previously used communications to constituents (e.g. article, speech, blog post, etc.) pertaining to leadership and/or educational issues.
Should you advance in the search, you will eventually also be asked to share a list of five professional references with name, relationship, phone number, and email address of each (references will not be contacted without the candidate’s permission). Materials should be sent to:

Barbara Chase
Senior Search Consultant[@]

Seliat Dairo
Search Consultant

Robert D. Vitalo
Vice President, Search and Consulting Services

How to Apply: Robert D. Vitalo Vice President, Search and Consulting Services robert.vitalo[@]

Link to Full Description
Schools of the Sacred Heart share in the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart as articulated in the Goals and Criteria. The structure supporting Sacred Heart education in Canada and the United States includes the Conference of Sacred Heart Education and the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.  Together they provide services and programs to ensure vitality of mission for the member schools sponsored by the Society of the Sacred Heart.