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A Catholic Private Education in Cheltenham Township

 

Ancillae-Assumpta Academy is a private, co-educational, Catholic school sponsored by the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  The Academy is located on a ten-acre campus in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, a suburb outside of Philadelphia. Once the estate of Saturday Evening Post editor George Horace Lorimer, the property welcomed Herbert Hoover, Norman Rockwell, and Agatha Christie as guests. It's no wonder that the Academy feels a special responsibility to value the diversity and creative abilities of our students, continuing the legacy of those who came before us and were part of the Academy’s past.

The committed faculty provides a supportive foundation for nurturing and fostering the students’ personal and educational growth and development.  The student body of pre-school through grade eight is from fifteen school districts from Montgomery, Bucks, and Philadelphia counties within a twenty-mile radius of the Academy.  The steadily maintained enrollment continues to bring a group of diverse and promising children.  Graduates of the Academy attend a wide variety of area high schools, often choosing the most outstanding private and independent schools available. A strong sense of family, participation, and commitment supports these students throughout their journey at Ancillae-Assumpta Academy.

The curriculum emphasizes the development of strong academic skills, utilizing an integrative curricular model. Through this interdisciplinary structure, content goals, which are consistent with current research and standards, are communicated and assessed. Our 1:1 device program promotes a personalized and authentic learning experience. Our service learning curriculum, school-wide sustainability efforts, local community partnerships, and student government program cultivate civic engagement in and out of the classroom. The faculty is committed to flexible learning environments and differentiated instruction to support the success of all learners and to optimize their learning opportunities and outcomes.

In addition to the most up-to-date instructional areas and classrooms, the Academy houses three science labs, a STEM lab, a MIDI lab, six studios for private music instruction, an art studio and kiln area, a computer graphics area, an auditorium, cafeteria, gym, school chapel, and a fully equipped library. The outdoor facilities are comprised of an outdoor classroom and gardens, two playground areas, a nature path, and an athletic field with a spectator area.

An Ancillae Education

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Mission

Ancillae-Assumpta Academy, sponsored by the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is a private, Catholic, co-educational school for students in Pre-school through grade 8.  A strong faith foundation rooted in gospel values and a challenging academic curriculum developed to meet the needs of all learners prepare students to reach their full potential as global citizens.  In a community that emphasizes "personal excellence in a warm and friendly atmosphere", students learn through the R.I.C.E. Process to be Responsible, Interdependent, Creative, and Empowered Christians who utilize their God-given talents in service to others.

Vision

The community of Ancillae-Assumpta Academy embraces the educational mission of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Our ministry is education in service of the Gospel.  Whatever educates invites our collaboration. Through the pursuit of "personal excellence in a warm and friendly atmosphere", we commit ourselves to: 

  • nurture faith development
  • approach the world with hope and hospitality
  • reverence creation
  • celebrate diversity
  • side with the poor
  • act as leaven for community building
  • and share all that we are

To meet these demanding challenges, we dedicate all our resources: a liberating theology, quality teachers, structural know-how, a constantly evolving curriculum, critical teaching and thinking skills.  In a spirit of hope, we share Responsibility, work Interdependently, think Creatively, and promote the Empowerment of people.
 

Philosophy

The R.I.C.E. Process, a visioning instrument for school restructuring, is a systematic process to actualize a vision for education developed by Sr. Elizabeth McCoy.  Four major shifts are key to facilitating restructuring: moving from classical models of centralized authority to shared responsibility, transforming a hierarchical worldview to one of global interdependence, viewing knowledge as static to dynamic, and changing a local viewpoint to people empowerment.

The foundational philosophy of the R.I.C.E. Process is derived from gospel values with a profound spirituality unifying our work through prayer, commitment, and action.  The R.I.C.E. Process can be understood more deeply through three significant themes: Institutional Conversion, promoting a change in our way of thinking and acting; Moving the Mountain, fueling our passion to actualize a vision for Catholic education; and Leadership Challenge, addressing how authority is shared and monitored.   Together these themes shape the values of the R.I.C.E. Process, namely: Shared Responsibility, Human Interdependence, Dynamic Creativity and People Empowerment.  The R.I.C.E. Process addresses four components of an institution: direction, leadership, authority, and processes. 

Ancillae-Assumpta’s educational philosophy, given the acronym R.I.C.E., promotes an integral understanding and practice of Shared Responsibility, Human Interdependence, Dynamic Creativity, and People Empowerment.  It serves as a planning tool to systematically advance the school’s efforts in visioning, networking, curriculum, and staff development, critical areas that contribute to an authentic, cohesive, and congruent learning community.  Reflection, life-long learning, ongoing planning, participation, and evaluation are key features of the R.I.C.E. Process.

The administration, faculty, and staff consistently apply the components of the R.I.C.E. Process to facilitate the growth and development of our school community.  The integrity of the R.I.C.E. process was recognized by the MSA visiting team and was commended in their written report to the Commission stating that “evident is the commitment of the Ancillae-Assumpta Academy community to a sustained, focused, multi-year restructuring effort to build an educational community that is growing through reflection and intentional actions to understand who they are, where they are going, and why.”  The Middle States Commission approved and encouraged our school to continue to apply the R.I.C.E. values to our planning and evaluative structures. Planning and evaluation are done at the institutional, school-wide, curricular, program, staff and personal levels. The process assists us to articulate a vision more clearly, to document processes more accurately through focused goals and strategies, to involve the community more critically through evaluation opportunities, and to plan the future more intentionally through long and short range planning.   

The R.I.C.E. Process is dynamic in nature allowing for institutional and personal growth and keeps the school moving on a critical path of change.  All areas of the school are touched by the vision and transformed by the process.  By looking at the future needs of students facing a global, interdependent reality with intense human and technological advancements, the direction the school takes needs to prepare them to meet the challenges of the 21st century is found through the R.I.C.E. Process.

The author of the R.I.C.E. Process, Sister Elizabeth McCoy, noted that the name of the process, R.I.C.E., is a familiar and simple food staple, and is easily understood by all people of all ages as nourishing and life-giving.  The R.I.C.E. values give relevance and authenticity to the school’s goals, educational programs, activities, and future development. 

History

1946 -  Handmaids began kindergarten classes at 2025 Church Road in Wyncote, PA.
1947 -  Ancillae Academy, a school for girls, was begun.
1957 -  Assumpta Academy, a school for boys, was begun.
1968 -  Schools merged as Ancillae-Assumpta Academy.
1971 -  Academy received its licensure by the PA State Board of Private Academic Schools.
1971 -  Montessori method of education was introduced into our nursery and kindergarten programs.
1980 -  First accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools takes place.
1980 -  Construction of Fiat building began.
1986 -  Recognized by the Department of Education as an "Exemplary Private School".
1989 -  Recognized by the Department of Education as  a "Drug Free School".
1989 -  Administration was restructured to include positions of director (Sr. Elizabeth McCoy) and principal (Sr. Maureen Gillespie).
1990 -  Reaccredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools for a special project on the R.I.C.E. Process.
1992 -  Awarded "Blue Ribbon School of Excellence" honor.
2001 -  Received third reaccreditation by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools presenting a colloquium entitled "The R.I.C.E. Process: Building our Future Together with Technology and Fine Arts"
2001 -  Construction of McCoy Center began.
2004 -  Sister Elizabeth McCoy passed away.  Mrs. Marian Dondero became the first lay director of the Academy.
2005-2010 -  Campus Renovations took place including Student Dining Room, Library, Middle School classrooms, Link, Chapel, and STEM Lab.
2010 -  Earned second "Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence" honor.  Mrs. Kerry Harp began service as interim school director.
2012 -  Fourth reaccreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools with "Renewing the Vision" protocol.
2013 - Mrs. Amy Lintner, current school director, accepted school leadership position. 
2016 - The Academy earned the Apple Distinguished Program recognition for 2016-2018 for its best practices in education.
2018 - The Academy earns the Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence honor for the fourth time.
2018 - Ancillae earns the Apple Distinguished School recognition for 2018-2021 for its best practices in education.

Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are an international community of Roman Catholic women of varied ages, races, and cultural backgrounds. Their ministry is education in the service of the gospel. At present, there are some one hundred thirty Handmaid communities throughout the globe, with over one hundred fifty vibrant young women training to serve Jesus through the Handmaids in the United States and other countries.

The core values that define a Handmaid are Joy, Hospitality, Simplicity, Humility, and Compassion. In 1877 Saint Raphaela Mary, co-founder of the Institute, described the mission of the Handmaids as “Love of Christ in the Eucharist and the concern of His Heart for the salvation of all.” The Handmaids work toward sharing God’s gifts and embracing the vision of their foundress, to “promote an education that leads one to find God in all things.”

The Handmaid charism serves as the core of our educational philosophy at Ancillae. The shared motto of the 25 schools run by the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus around the world, ad finem fidelis – faithful to the end – expresses a way of educating through a belief in people, willing to commit to the development of each person to their full extent.

This way of educating translates into its own pedagogy, the pedagogy of the heart, that combines firmness and tenderness in order to form hearts that are both strong and sensitive, able to align with the joys and sorrows of those around them, and committed to building a fairer and more humane world. At Ancillae-Assumpta Academy, this pedagogy is expressed in our commitment to educate with love and for love.

Each of the Handmaids’ ministries around the world includes the following key elements:

1.    The proclamation of Jesus: to announce the Jesus of the Gospel, who offers Himself to give life to all people through service and love, brotherhood, gratuitousness, and preference for the poor.

2.    The formation of the person: to form persons of integrity, who possess a critical sense of the reality which surrounds them and of the world, who are capable of dialogue and of welcoming what is different, who are creative, enterprising and open to the transcendent.

3.    Membership in a community: to awaken a sense of brotherhood with all those who share the same values and work to make the world a more just and fraternal place. When the persons are Catholic, to nourish in them the sense of belonging to the Church.

4.    The experience of our spirituality: to form reparative persons who assume in their lives the values and attitudes that spring from the Eucharist, persons who incarnate the availability of Mary and are guided in their faith journey by St. Raphaela Mary.

5.    The commitment to the integrity of creation: to form persons who value life as a gift, and who acknowledge and respect the interdependence and integrity of all creation.
 

Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Educational Style, Rome 2017

St. Raphaela Mary

Saint Raphaela Mary is our patron saint. Raphaela was born in Spain in 1850. Even as a little girl, Raphaela understood that Jesus was calling her to be his very special friend and she loved to spend time with Him. She especially loved to sit in front of Him in the Eucharist and pray to Him for all the people she knew.

Raphaela and her sister Pilar founded the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1886. From the very start, Raphaela Mary envisioned an organization dedicated to education in the service of the Gospel. It needed to be “universal like the church” by always giving preference to the poor. The Congregation quickly spread throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa.

Behind the Stone Wall