St. Jean Baptiste High School names new Head of School

St. Jean Baptiste High School
Left to right: Moa Skrtic, Layla Kennedy, Molly Smith, Raysis Nunez, and Katie Liang
Courtesy of St. Jean Baptiste High School

St. Jean Baptiste High School, an American all-female private Roman Catholic school, has announced the appointment of Molly Smith as the new Head of School, effective July 1. Ms. Smith takes over from Sister Maria Cassano, who is retiring after fifteen years in this position. (Sister Maria will become Principal Emerita.)

St. Jean Baptiste has a current enrollment of 350 and is located on the upper east side of Manhattan. With a 95-year history it is administered by the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal, and located within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

Most recently, Ms. Smith has been the regional superintendent at Partnership Schools, a Catholic, non-profit school management organization. She previously served as principal of Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School and brings fifteen years of experience as a teacher and administrator in both Catholic and charter schools. Her education includes: A BA in Religious Studies from Fordham University, and an MA in Elementary Education from Loyola Marymount University. She is completing her MBA from Fordham.

During a period where a number of Catholic schools have closed throughout the greater New York area, including two prominent schools for young women—Ms. Smith is optimistic about the future of Catholic education and in particular for St. Jean Baptiste High School. Ms. Smith explains: “Public schools are not serving all students well. For centuries, Catholic schools have served students and their communities exceptionally well. I see a Catholic school renaissance in the next several years. Parents are more involved than ever not only with academics but with the environment…the role of the community and the culture. The news media has raised attention about the mental health of students and their ability to thrive. Part of that equation is finding an excellent school: Providing excellent academic instruction, and an environment where a student has the capacity to flourish, where they can find their interests, their passion, be supported….Catholic schools have always put front and center educating the whole student, not just academics but spiritual development. There is more emphasis to a student as a whole person.”

Ms. Smith continues, “Our girls are going out into the world being doctors, lawyers, politicians, community organizers and more—I am thrilled to be a part of that. There is an affordability challenge for New York’s private schools. The St. Jean Baptiste community, their parishioners, board, and supporters have developed a model to keep tuition accessible for families while also making sure financially the school is well run. The spiritual environment which is part of everyday life is beneficial to students and their families.”

Ms. Smith believes in the importance of recruiting students from public schools and charter schools, showing them what St. Jean Baptiste can offer. “Our graduates have a 100% college acceptance rate—a real feat. Our counselors know each student by name, knows their plans, and spends individual time with them to help cultivate their ambition where they want to go.”

Seated, left side: Lauren Mateo (front) and Samantha Mateo (back)
Seated, right side: Scarlett Collins (front) and Marin De La Cruz (back)
Standing, left to right: Moa Skrtic, Raysis Nunez, Jadyn Torres, Kiara Rodriguez, Noelle Lecomte, Victoria Pacheco, Katie Liang, and Layla Kennedy