View Full Version : All NYC Q&A with Jaclyn Brilliant, princiapl of Notre Dame School in Meatpacking District

03-12-2012, 09:34 AM
From DNAinfo.com (http://www.dnainfo.com/20120312/greenwich-village-soho/notre-dame-girls-school-specializes-personal-attention) by Andrea Swalec:

Jaclyn Brilliant, the principal of Notre Dame School at 327 W. 13th St., said warmth and one-on-one instruction are the secrets to success at the college prep high school, which turns 100 this year.

Brilliant, who took over as principal this year after 21 years as an English teacher and in the fundraising office, recently talked with DNAinfo about the school's character.

Q: Do students go to mass every day? How Catholic would you say the school is?

Jaclyn Brilliant: There's a liturgy about once a month. We have a new chapel that was donated by the class of '56. Students don't have to attend, but many of them do.

[The students] all take religion every year and they learn about the Catholic sacraments in particular. They also study world religions and they have a faith and justice course. They're learning about the Catholic faith but they're also learning about other religions. About 90 percent of them come from Catholic school backgrounds, but are they all practicing Catholics? No.

Q: How would you describe the school's principles?

Our school was founded by the Sisters of St. Ursula. The woman behind it is Anne de Xiantonge. I think that sets us apart. Her whole mission back in the 1600s, in France, was to educate girls. We take our mission from her beliefs. She wanted girls to be educated in the same way that she saw boys being educated. She was watching the Jesuits and she wanted the same thing for girls.

Another core [principle] that we take from her is that you don't have to be wealthy to be educated. She wanted all young women to have access, so we still try to live by that. About 70 percent of our students receive some type of scholarship or financial aid. Even though our tuition is modest it's under $10,000 [per year] we realize it can be a lot of money every month for a working family.

Q: What do you think is the benefit for students of going to an all-girls' school?

They say that it makes them feel comfortable and less distracted. It also builds confidence. It's automatic to them during these four years that they are the leaders, or that they have the opportunity to be the leaders.

Q: How would you sum up what you think is special about this school?

Intimacy. A lot of schools are small but we really value our intimacy and our family-like environment. The school's nickname is Chez Nous and we try to take that seriously. It's our home. We want the kids to feel at home and welcome here, and that applies to the faculty here, too. I think people do tend to treat the school like it's their home.

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