Visitor from England Links Holy Child Heritage for Students

February 23, 2016

The headmistress of Mayfield School in England visited Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, New Jersey on Friday, February 19, 2016 bringing to life for students just how far the Holy Child Network of Schools and the Society of the Holy Child Jesus reach across the globe.

Antonia Beary, who has been the headmistress of the Mayfield School in East Sussex, England, since 2008, spoke of the importance of embracing the schools’ shared traditions and practices while also learning from differing educational approaches.

“I saw a sign in one of the classrooms about the Holy Child heritage, and I think sharing those links are very important,” said Ms. Beary, who met with Oak Knoll faculty and staff, toured the Summit campus and spoke with students.

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Antonia Beary with Oak Knoll students

“There are many similarities in approach between the two schools,” she said. “It’s not just the pictures (of Holy Child foundress Cornelia Connelly) that are familiar.”

Ms. Beary emphasized the importance of understanding different ways of teaching as Mayfield is a boarding and day school with a large contingent of international students.

“We’re preparing our students for a global stage. We’re all doing that, so the understanding of different ways of doing things is very important,” she said.

Oak Knoll Head of School Timothy J. Saburn echoed Ms. Beary’s sentiments.

“This is going to cultivate a deeper relationship,” Saburn said of the visit, while noting it reminded Oak Knoll students that they are a part of a larger community of learners.

“The students realize they’re really part of a global network, and they’re not just part of a school in Summit,” he said.

He likened Ms. Beary’s visit to when Sr. Gifty Abane, a member of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, taught classes at Oak Knoll in December. Sr. Abane, a native of Ghana, taught at Oak Knoll for two weeks as part of her education at Rosemont College.

Kathleen Lynch, chair of Oak Knoll’s Theology Department and director of Campus Ministry, was glad to reconnect with Ms. Beary after Lynch visited the Mayfield School in 2011 as part of the Cornelia Connelly Curriculum Committee.

“The girls were delighted to meet her. It was a great opportunity for them to experience the international aspect of Holy Child. She found our girls to be welcoming and very much like her students at Mayfield,” Lynch said.

Prior to touring Oak Knoll, Ms. Beary visited the School of the Holy Child in Rye, New York, after attending the National Coalition of Girls Schools Conference in New York City earlier this month.

The origins of the Mayfield School date back to May 1863 when Cornelia Connelly visited the ruins of a 14th-century palace, which would later be sold to the Society and transformed into a church and school.

Mayfield School is Cornelia Connelly’s final earthly resting place, as she is entombed in the school’s chapel.