History & Heritage
Magnificat High School, founded and sponsored by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, opened in 1955 in the former Wooster School in Rocky River with a freshman class of 63 students and three Sisters of the Humility of Mary. One hundred nine sisters have served in educational ministry at Magnificat partnering from the beginning with dedicated lay personnel in continuity with practices of partnership begun from their founding in Dommartin, France, in 1854. Since its beginning, Magnificat has grown to become the largest Catholic, private girls’ school in Ohio, comprised of a student population of over 770 young women representing five counties of the Cleveland diocese and a religious and lay faculty of more than 75 members.
The hallmark of education at Magnificat has always been its reputation for excellence and caring. In the late 1960s, the school adopted a mosaic schedule to address the variety of learning rhythms of both students and teachers. In the early 1970s, reflecting the nature of the student body, Magnificat committed to a fully accredited college-preparatory curriculum, receiving the official State Department of Education designation in 1985. Annually, at least 98 percent of graduates matriculate directly to a four-year college or university. In 1973, Magnificat established the Genesis program, the first of its kind, involving seniors in a two-week community service and career exploration under a mentor in the broader community.
In 1985, the school was honored as an “Exemplary Private School,” one of the original 26 non-public schools nationwide so named by the U.S. Department of Education. That same year, the administration embarked upon the school’s first capital campaign, which resulted in a new wing located at the east end of the building housing the Theology and Science Departments. The project also included classroom and office renovations in the main building and an athletic field for softball, soccer, and track and field. Two years later, the Activities Center (Gym) and outdoor tennis courts, both located at the eastern end of the property, were completed.
In 1986, the school was incorporated and a Board of Directors established to assure responsibility for the strategic direction of the corporation and to ensure a philosophy, mission and identity consistent with that of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary. The Code of Regulations thus guarantees the forwarding of the institution in an enduring and recognized way.
Magnificat has been led by eight principals and two presidents, all Sisters of the Humility of Mary, whose continued sponsorship supports the school.
Magnificat’s leadership has been open to growth and change and has led Magnificat to its present stature in the community and nationally. Faculty, parents and students live the Mission of Magnificat in educating young women holistically to learn, lead, and serve in the spirit of Mary’s Magnificat. Faculty and staff work together with parents to create the kind of caring environment that fosters spiritual growth and intellectual development.
1997 marked the transition to a President-Principal administrative model, facilitating more comprehensive planning for the future while maintaining a strong academic program. Beginning July 1, 2010, Magnificat High School announced a innovative leadership structure with the appointment of two deans, Dean of Faculty and Academics and Dean of Student Life and Formation, holding mutual, comprehensive responsibility for the day-to-day aspects of the school, its students, faculty and programs. The President has overall responsibility for the school community, its Mission, strategic direction, Board, constituent relationships and advancement. Along with the President and Deans, the Leadership Team is comprised of Vice Presidents of Mission, Advancement, and Finance and Administration.
Ms. Jenifer Hebda Halliday '95 President July 2015-July 2017
Ms. Marilyn Arundel '76 Dean of Faculty and Academics 2010-Present
Mrs. Moira Clark '77 Dean of Student Life and Formation 2010-Present
Mrs. Renata J. Rafferty President 2013-2015
Sister Helen Jean Novy, H.M. Interim President January-July,2015
Sister Carol Anne Smith, H.M. President 2010-2013