Welcome from Head of School

Albert L. Throckmorton

Head of School Albert Throckmorton

We know how girls learn best and have a community of caring adults who want each girl to reach her potential. Girls here are smart in many ways — academically, creatively, athletically — and success at St. Mary's therefore is as individual as each girl. Our dedicated faculty provide the students with habits of mind and academic tools to thrive in their future: core knowledge, collaboration, creativity, and the desire and ability to keep learning as an adult.

As an Episcopal School, we have a nurturing, diverse, and inclusive environment. Girls grow in character from the earliest years and learn to respect each others' faith as they grow in their own.

Posts from the Head of School

Lenten Treasure Chapel
Albert Throckmorton

I want to tell you what my car taught me about Lent.
Now I realize that statement may elicit several responses:
What kind of car is that?
What's Lent?

My car is usually messy. My cup holders are full of trash and coffee stains. I have Chapel props and grocery bags and maps and binoculars and school directories and three umbrellas strewn about. The other day there was a strange noise, and I found, in a tiny compartment, something that I "bought" at KidTown from the kindergartners—from their music store. It was a plastic Easter egg that was decorated with paint and sequins and filled with beads. My car literally had a rattle.

Now, my car is beautifully clean, washed, vacuumed, and tidy.

My son who was bored, perhaps embarrassed for me, spent the weekend cleaning it.

Which brings me to Lent. On March 1, we marked the beginning of the season of Lent with the Ash Wednesday Eucharist.

One thing I admire about our Chapel time is what we learn about different faiths and cultures. I have learned about Holi and Purim Spiel and many others celebrations. Sometimes I wonder though if we assume everyone knows what the Christian observations are about.

I don't blame you if you find it confusing. "Lent" isn't in the Bible, and not everyone observes it the same way. Some churches impose ashes—a reminder of our mortality. Some churches stop singing "alleluia"—to increase the joy at Easter when they return. Some believers give up things—chocolate, personal pleasures, or bad habits.

But common to them all is the idea of preparation—preparation for the story of death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

It is easy to overlook in the liturgical calendar, between Christmas and Easter, that
Jesus has grown from the helpless baby to the resurrected Lord who is powerful, strong,
and compassionate. In anticipation of that house guest, we clean up.

So many Christians during this season exert some kind of effort and discipline to prepare their hearts.

If I can't keep my car clean, I need all the reminders I can get about my heart.

One person we all know understood this. The original St. Mary's girl—Mary. The last time we saw Mary, she was receiving the gifts: gold, myrrh, and frankincense. She was already preparing. The Gospel tells us, "But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." Mary knew that the baby Jesus would be seen again in a different setting—the one we are preparing for during Lent.

And speaking of treasure. It was only after my car was cleaned that I found the diamond solitaire that had fallen years ago from my wife's wedding ring! (see my Facebook post for the whole story).

So what did my car teach me about Lent? My car is like my mind, my conscience, my heart—it gets cluttered with junk. With care and consideration, I am able to see that the treasure was there all along.
The Greatest Need Requires the Greatest Gift
Albert Throckmorton

As I watched the runners race past Mile Marker 1 of the St. Jude marathon and half-marathon on Saturday, I was inspired by the St. Mary's team and the patients for whom they ran. Many runners lifted their hands to touch those of the spectators. This moment, repeated again and again, illustrated vividly that some causes deserve the exertion of the whole human being.

We have a community that gives generously in so many ways — for the St. Mary's Community Fund, for St. Jude, for the Emmanuel Center Christmas Project, and for St. Mary's itself. As the girls grow up, they see giving and service as two parts of a whole and as a joyful responsibility of living in community. They come to learn that the greatest needs require mind and soul and body.

As we draw near to our oldest school tradition and see the tableaux of the Christmas Pageant, I am reminded of another moment when the greatest need required the greatest gift. St. Mary's welcomes this season in gratitude for the many hands that give, serve, and reach others. May peace and joy be with each of your families in the upcoming break and in the traditions you celebrate.

On School Community, Post-election
Albert Throckmorton

St. Mary's is a school whose primary mission is to provide a superior educational experience. Alongside our study of science, literature, and the arts, which help to inform our students' place in the world, a St. Mary's education includes lessons in history, government, the Constitution, and civics. Our mission is educational, not political; we do not advocate a political perspective. A superior education includes knowledge of citizenship and opportunities to learn from current events. We expect, therefore, to see in students a growing understanding and desire to participate as citizens. Ignorance or passivity would be signs we are not teaching well, just as civility and respect exhibit our higher expectations.

St. Mary's is an Episcopal school, the core values of which promote a community that is welcoming, inclusive, and diverse in all areas, including faith, race, and politics. We teach character, faith traditions, and ethics. We do not teach or promote doctrine, nor do we indoctrinate. Our highest shared religious principle is to love our neighbors as ourselves. To love our neighbors, we seek to understand those who walk alongside us.

St. Mary's is a girls' school. At the end of her journey with us, each student has learned to be confident and kind. Each girl is encouraged to exercise her voice in a safe environment before she enters a larger world that in many ways is not yet balanced in her favor. She learns to speak for herself and stand up for others.

The sum of these parts, therefore, makes St. Mary's Episcopal School a community of intelligence, diversity, and courage. We promote and practice this environment, and it takes work to maintain it.

Lessons from my Puppy
Albert Throckmorton

Excerpt of a Chapel talk to Middle and Upper School students

This past week, you were especially on my mind. I knew that our school and the schools of my colleagues were all trying to understand — the news, each other, the future.

The last two times I spoke to you, I talked about civility and then about my puppy Archie. In retrospect, I now realize that those messages were preludes to a third story about Archie and community.

Archie has a bed. He loves his bed. He carries his bed around with him. He grew up in his bed. When he is wound up, he calms himself by stuffing as much of it in his mouth as possible. When he is anxious, he chews it and tears the seam, and pulls out the stuffing out. He still loves his bed but literally tears at the fabric of what gives him his greatest comfort. We re-stuff the bed. We repair the damage.

We love this school. We carry this school around with us.

We are growing up in the school. Sometimes the seams strain and rip.

We are going to protect the very thing that gives us the most comfort — each other.