A Letter from Dan Hildebrand, Interim Head of School
Welcome to Viz!
I am often asked, “What sets Visitation apart?” “What makes Viz unique?” One of the most important elements in choosing a school, and also one of the most difficult to put into words, is the school’s sense of community. I know Viz as a welcoming and caring community – I, too, was new to Viz not that long ago – and from the moment I first walked these hallways, I was astounded by the unique feel, tone, and ethos that I believe make Visitation Academy such an exceptional and outstanding school. As I reflect on what creates this special atmosphere, I have come to believe the following characteristics are key:
Our all-girls program for Grades 1 through 12 is the only such program in the region. We know how to educate girls and young women – that’s what we have been doing since 1833. Our professional faculty simply knows best how to teach and work with girls.
- We have the freedom at Viz to focus on the needs of girls and young women – we tailor instruction to how girls learn and our counseling programs are designed for the social and emotional needs of girls. Academically, studies show that at an early age girls are more mature and more complex thinkers; girls can remain focused for a substantially longer period of time than boys can. In the typical coed classroom, boys are not only a distraction; they also tend to pull girls away from academic achievement because of the complex social dynamic existing in coed environments. Our girls, in the absence of boys, are able to progress academically at a far faster pace.
Visitation’s Catholic, Salesian philosophy, based on the teachings of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal, is intertwined with and integral to our educational philosophy.
- There is a striking commonality between the teachings of Saints Francis and Jane and current research about the cognitive development of children and adolescents; we find our ancient truths speak of the same virtues and personal qualities that we find in current research about what works best in education. We hold firm to both ancient truth and modern research – we prepare our students for lives of promise and impact by walking a Salesian path in a modern, technological world.
Our small size allows teachers to know students well and appreciate them for their special gifts and strengths.
- We are a small, close community that supports one another. Our students are actively engaged in their learning; they are eager to learn. They are joyful, confident, and comfortable being themselves. Because students are well known for their individual strengths and gifts, they readily accept challenges and are eager to explore and achieve to their full potential.
Our teachers are committed to life-long learning; we invest in continued professional growth for our faculty and staff.
- Our dynamic teachers are Advanced Placement exam graders, conference presenters, writers, artists, and leaders in their fields. Their education, long tenure, and loyalty to Viz (85% hold advanced degrees, nearly 70% have taught at Viz for over 5 years (with many teaching substantially longer), and 14% are Viz alumnae) mean that there is little they have not experienced in education. We set aside dedicated time for the sharing of professional ideas and are in continual conversation about how to enhance our already excellent programs. During weekly meetings, faculty share insights about students, ensuring that every girl is known for her special gifts and has the support she needs to grow and flourish.
With our expansive campus and flexible classroom furniture, innovative teaching is par for the course at Viz. A vibrant fine arts program, a robust athletics program, and over 30 extra-curriculars help to round out the unique Viz experience.
- Makerspaces, a food science lab, a robotics and engineering lab, an entrepreneurial leadership program, a large video studio, and more all serve to make our graduates adept in navigating and succeeding in the complex world that awaits them.
Our approach to educating young minds, based in our Montessori roots, is dedicated to incorporating skills and virtues with the content knowledge that students will need to succeed.
- Our Montessori early childhood program serves as the philosophical foundation for all of our educational programs. Anchored in a dedication to experiential learning using real world problems, the Montessori program teaches our youngest learners self-sufficiency, self-control, problem solving, and collaborative skills. It provides the resources and atmosphere for exploration and discovery and allows the students to experience the joy of learning. Fostering respect for one’s self, for others, and for the environment, our Montessori program sets our students on a path to becoming good, moral citizens. These Montessori roots extend into the grades above with our continuing focus on ethical behavior, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration.
Our long-standing reputation for academic excellence and life-long success is demonstrated by the stunning achievements of our alumnae.
- The strongest evidence of the strength of a Viz education is the remarkable achievements of our alumnae. Whether in business, medicine, engineering, law, or service, our alumnae make an impact on their communities and on the world. Our alumnae maintain close ties to Viz and to one another. A growing number serve as mentors to our current Viz students.
You can learn much more about Viz by calling our Admission office and scheduling a visit. I look forward to meeting you soon!