Starting Strong
Students at Rosemont School of the Holy Child learn essential skills—namely, resiliency, confidence and empathy—that will shape them into leaders for a lifetime
by Bill Donahue

When Mac Sims transferred to Rosemont School of the Holy Child (RSHC), he was “a little behind the curve” in certain areas of his academic development. This, coupled with the pending social integration, caused his family to be concerned about his transition. Their concern, however, was short lived. “He has since gained so much speed academically and now he is one of the top students in his class,” says Jennifer Sims, Mac’s mother. “I credit his teachers; they homed in on math and science and took that strength and projected his confidence to other areas. The school tends to strike a spot-on balance between students’ emotional needs and academic needs. Who they will become later on in life begins here, and Rosemont School teaches kids to become leaders with great confidence.”

Earlier this month Mac entered second grade at RSHC, an independent, coeducational Catholic school for children from nursery school to eighth grade. He was joined at RSHC by his two siblings: Laney, who is in kindergarten; and Archer, who is in nursery school.

“My kids refer to Rosemont as ‘our school,’ which gets back to the sense of family and community there,” Sims says. “They talk about their ‘big friends,’ meaning the older kids, who say hi to them in the hall. And it stretches beyond the walls of the school.”

Considering the school’s track record for producing exceptional, well-balanced students, it’s common for families to have multiple students enrolled at RSHC. Also, families’ devotion to the school often spans generations.

“I went to Rosemont School, and all of my siblings went there; there were six of us,” says Matt Taylor, parent of two current Rosemont School students: Daniel, a seventh grader, and Brendan, a fifth grader. “The school has as sophisticated an approach to education that you will find anywhere in the country. At the same time it’s a very nurturing place, so this combination of sophistication and openness to modern education with its very nurturing culture makes it a very special place.”

Opened in 1949, RSHC is guided by the philosophy of Philadelphia-born Cornelia Connelly, founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. The original Tudor mansion that has served as the school’s centerpiece since its inception is complemented by several contemporary, high-tech facilities, including science and computer labs, a state-of-the-art library, gym and music/art studios for the campus’ Lower and Middle School divisions, as well as a first-class turf field for athletics. 

RSHC, which has been accredited by the PAIS (Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools) since 1981, strives to develop the talents and capabilities of the whole child—body and soul, mind and heart—through a vigorous educational curriculum and Christian values that combine to provide students with a foundation of empathy, diversity and understanding. Students are valued and respected for their uniqueness, while being encouraged to expand their interests and skill sets to cultivate a growth mindset as they progress toward high school and beyond.

“Preparation for the next phase of education starts as early as nursery school,” says Sister Mary Broderick, head of school. “Even at the youngest levels we are about fostering confidence, resiliency and creativity in our students. The world these children will enter [as adults] will be a very different world than we see now. Most of them will be creating their own jobs, so we give them the wings to fly now.

“Our students are the leaders in student government and social situations and after-school extracurricular activities—they’re into everything,” she continues. “They are not afraid to get involved and have the resiliency they will need for the world they will soon be going into. We hear over and over about how confident our children are. They learn how to become leaders here.”

Mark Casey can attest to that. Three of his children—a son in third grade, a daughter in first grade and another daughter in prekindergarten—go to RSHC, and each has improved in various ways.

“It’s a nice, warm community here,” says Casey, whose family lives in Rosemont. “The school places a huge emphasis on how to treat others, understanding that not everyone has the same talents. … The curriculum is rigorous, but my kids are very comfortable and seem to be thriving academically, socially and morally.”

The Bottom Line
Parents and faculty alike describe RSHC as “special” and even “magical” because of its ability to teach children to not only be unafraid of the changing world that lies before them but also to embrace it. Students here are given increasing levels of age-appropriate responsibility, which promotes leadership and underscores the value of continually challenging oneself.

“Our children are confident without being cocky,” says Thomas Lengel, associate head of school. “It’s just one small example, but every year we have kids run for student council, and typically three-quarters of the class will run, and that includes giving a speech. I love the fact that so many kids feel so good about themselves, emotionally and socially, to try something new.”

New experiences are the norm at RSHC, from the earliest levels on up, to instill in them a lifelong love of learning. Through an interdisciplinary and multisensory approach, RSHC students are exposed to computers and technology, as well as foreign languages such as Spanish and Mandarin, as early as prekindergarten. Older students frequently collaborate with younger students throughout the school year for prayer services, assemblies and other special projects. Even the sports programs, for which the school has a no-cut policy, are designed to teach growth and discipline, while nurturing one’s strengths.

“Two-thirds of the children get dropped off by their parents every morning, and the children bound out of the car,” Lengel says. “They look forward to seeing their teachers, coaches and fellow students. In some ways that’s the bottom line. We’re edified that parents are making the choice to send their children here. The overwhelming majority are incredibly happy with the experience they get and the product we turn out, which is children that are sought out by the top area private high schools.”

He knows by experience. As the former head of the upper school at The Haverford School, he worked closely with incoming freshmen and was consistently impressed by the students who had graduated from RSHC. When he came to RSHC as associate head of school, his youngest son, Andrew, accompanied him as a student. Andrew has since graduated from RSHC and is now enrolled at Haverford.

“Andrew found his niche at Rosemont School,” Lengel says. “In addition to becoming a very good student academically, he also became part of the first-ever championship basketball team. He wasn’t the best player but the coaches worked with him and found a role. He worked hard, and the coaches brought out the best in him.”

RSHC and its students, in fact, share a richness of successes: The class of 2012 earned a total of 15 scholarships to regional private and independent high schools; approximately 98 percent of graduating RSHC students are accepted by their first-choice high school; over the past four years RSHC has won 15 Catholic Academy League varsity championships, in boys’ basketball, field hockey, football and track and field; and, lastly, the school has an uncommonly low attrition rate of less than 5 percent, compared with the National Association of Independent Schools average of nearly 10 percent. 

“Like any good organization or good company or good school, it all starts with leadership,” says Taylor. “Rosemont School has great leadership in Sister Mary and Tom Lengel. They expect great things from teachers and great things from students. When you start with high expectations, you know it’s going to be a great school, and you know it’s going to produce great students.”

Rosemont School of the Holy Child
1344 Montgomery Ave.
Rosemont, PA 19010-1698
Phone: 610-922-1000