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Principal Jeanne Blakeslee to Retire in June

Read special statements from Ms. Blakeslee and the Office of the President.

Office of the President

November 11, 2020

Dear families, alumnae, Sisters of Mercy, and friends,

Catherine McAuley, the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, wrote, “It is a special favor of God to be made a teacher.” God truly favored Jeanne Blakeslee and the Mercy High School community in making Jeanne an exceptional teacher and for the last six years, our remarkable principal. Thus, it is bittersweet to share with you that Jeanne has decided to retire at the conclusion of this academic year in June 2021. In doing so, Jeanne will be able to pursue with full energy and attention all that brings her joy—a fitting reward for an educator who has brought joy and so much more to Mercy. We invite you to read Jeanne’s letter below to our community.

Jeanne’s work as principal of our beloved school is her “second act” at Mercy. Beginning at Mercy in 1976 as a teacher, Jeanne left in 1998 for new leadership opportunities at St. Paul’s School for Girls. A deep affection for the charism of Catherine McAuley and a whole-hearted dedication to our mission brought Jeanne back to Mercy as principal in 2014. Jeanne’s visionary leadership has energized our academic programming and provided new opportunities for Mercy Girls to learn and laugh, to pray and thrive. 

These include:

  • The authorization of Mercy as an International Baccalaureate World School offering the Middle Years Programme. Today, Mercy stands as the only Catholic girls’ school in the Archdiocese of Baltimore to achieve this prestigious designation.
  • The expansion of the Women in Medicine Program in partnership with Mercy Medical Center and the establishment of the Sister Agnese Neumann Scholars Program in partnership with MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in response to continuing demand for one-of-a kind STEM opportunities.
  • The creation of the Law and Social Action Program to provide students interested in law and policy the opportunity to understand how to effect community transformation.
  • The evolution of our seminar and advisory programs to include a deeper focus on emotional wellness, healthy relationships, and cultural competency.
  • The retention, recruitment, and development of an intellectually excellent faculty committed to delivering a rigorous college preparatory education grounded in Catholic, Mercy values to our Mercy Girls.

Jeanne and her team accomplished all of these strategic priorities and more in the midst of a rapid transformation of campus facilities, including installation of a new HVAC system and modern classroom furnishings and 21st century technology. Jeanne has continued at this pace in the pandemic, providing steady, thoughtful, and creative leadership in these unprecedented times. And through it all, Jeanne has continued to teach Advanced Placement Psychology because, truth be told, nothing brings Jeanne more joy than to teach, guide, and mentor Mercy Girls as they become the Women of Mercy that God intended them to be.

We have been richly blessed by Jeanne’s exceptional commitment to Mercy, and as a result, Mercy is strongly positioned to attract our next excellent, dynamic, and faith-filled academic leader. A national search chaired by a distinguished alumna, Tess Veloso ’68, is underway, and the position description will be disseminated before the Thanksgiving break. We look forward to engaging a broad cross-section of Mercy students, alumnae, Sisters of Mercy, past and current parents, and friends of Mercy in the search process. In the meantime, should you wish to nominate a candidate, please email search@mercyhighschool.com. 

The Sisters of Mercy and the Board of Trustees join us in deepest gratitude for all that Jeanne has given to Mercy, to our students and families, to our faculty and staff, and to our leadership team, and we pray that in the years to come, she will look back with great affection and pride on her lasting impact on generations of her dear Mercy Girls.

Sincerely, 

Kevin G. Burke P’10
Chair, Board of Trustees

Mary Beth Lennon ’85
President


Dear Mercy Community,

When I was a senior in high school, amidst the crazy time referred to as Beatlemania, I resisted. I didn’t love the Beatles; rather, I loved the Byrds. My favorite song Turn! Turn! Turn!  was so insightful and philosophical! It was a revelation to me that there was a time for every purpose under heaven. 

And now, my time has come. I will retire at the end of this school year. I look forward to spending time in my garden, reading the many books stacked in my study, volunteering at my parish, and spending more time with my family. I am especially excited to play more often with my wonderful grandchildren! 

I am delighted that Mercy is in such a strong position. As an IB World School, we are able to provide an education that has a global perspective and a personal focus. Our student services are strong, with a unique adviser program, outstanding college counseling, and a strong focus in health and wellness. Our faculty is excellent, and our leadership team amazing. Our families are supportive and generous. Our Mercy Girls are proud of themselves, proud of their friends, and proud of their school. This is a good time for the school to look to a new academic leader, one who can bring a new perspective and ideas.

I came to Mercy High School the first time in the fall of 1976, and remained here for 22 years before moving to another faith-based girls’ school. After forty-four years as a teacher and educator, I have learned many things; many of these are from the girls I have taught, the families with whom we have partnered, and the colleagues with whom I have worked. The most important thing that I have learned is how crucial a joyful community is to health and wellness and our ability to learn and grow. For this, I am grateful to Mercy in particular, because there is no stronger community than our TeamMagic.

The books of Wisdom are just that. Ecclesiastes is embedded in Wisdom literature and attributed to Solomon. As I have grown as a woman of faith, I have come to appreciate how central God must be in our lives, and that is one of the main messages of Ecclesiastes. But I must say, chapter 3 verses 1-8 still hold my heart.

Thank you, Mercy, for being such a central part of my life. I have loved being a part of such a generous and hospitable community.

With gratitude,
 
Jeanne A. Blakeslee
Principal