Mission, Leadership & History

Leadership

Academy President








A native of Rhode Island, Sr. Marybeth graduated from Salve Regina University and received her MBA from the University of Rhode Island. Since 1987, Sr. Marybeth has devoted herself to Catholic education. Drawing on her financial training and experience, she was recruited to St. Mary Academy - Bay View where she served as Business Manager from 1987-1989. Following that, Sr. Marybeth worked for 22 years at La Salle Academy in Providence, Rhode Island where she held the position of Vice President of Financial Administration/Chief Financial Officer and served as a member of the President’s Executive Team.

In 2013, Sr. Marybeth left Rhode Island to become a member of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Sisters of Mercy. Desiring to continue her work in Catholic education, she accepted the position of Dean of Students at Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School, founded and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and located in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania.

Throughout her 28-year career in educational administration, Sr. Marybeth has also made time to serve as a board member for several organizations, including ReFocus Inc., Mercymount Country Day School and Special Olympics of Rhode Island. She has held membership in the Rhode Island Association of Business Managers, the National Association of Independent Schools, the National Business Officers Association and the Rhode Island Women’s Golf Association.

As a Sister of Mercy and an experienced leader with exceptional skills in the areas of strategic planning, finance, facilities management and school operations, Sr. Marybeth leads Bay View forward as it continues to foster academic excellence and empower young women in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy.

Lower School Principal



Margaret Cummings, J.D., M.Ed.

Margaret Cummings joined the St. Mary Academy - Bay View community in August 2001 as a Middle School English teacher. In June 2009, she became Associate Principal of the Lower and Middle Schools and balanced her time in the classroom with responsibilities for all areas of student life. After becoming full-time Associate Principal of the Lower and Middle Schools in June of 2015, Margaret served as acting Principal of the Lower and Middle Schools during the 2016-2017 school year and was then named Principal of the Lower School in July of 2017.

Prior to coming to Bay View, Margaret had begun a career in the legal field before discovering her passion as an educator. She taught middle school English at St. Leo’s School in Pawtucket, RI and taught writing and English to inner city students in the Rhode Island College Upward Bound Program in Providence, RI.

Margaret received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and her Juris Doctor from Southern New England School of Law. After completing the Teacher Certification Program in English at Providence College, she continued on at Providence College to earn her M.Ed in School Leadership.

As Principal of the Lower School, Margaret continues her hands-on, personalized approach with parents, students, and faculty as she lays the path to prepare a globally-ready student, which begins at the very first school experience. Margaret is a strong supporter of the Academy’s one-to-one iPad program and continues to advance the Lower School in technology-based, experiential learning so that her students will not only learn how to take responsible action, but may be prepared to engage with the world.

Middle & Upper School Principal




Colleen Gribbin, MAT, CAGS

Colleen Gribbin, St. Mary Academy - Bay View’s first lay Principal, began her service on July 1, 1996. She was named Rhode Island's Principal of the Year for 2006-2007 by the Rhode Island Association of School Principals and was the first RI Catholic school Principal to be given this honor. The RIASP considered Colleen to be "one of the very best in her profession."

Prior to coming to Bay View, Colleen was the Principal at St. Margaret's school in East Providence and Associate Principal at Mercymount Country Day in Cumberland. She also taught at St. Thomas Regional School in Providence.

Colleen received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Southern Maine and her master's in administration and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in curriculum from Rhode Island College.

Colleen is responsible for moving the former junior high into the current middle school concept, incorporating new, interdisciplinary curriculum and instituting grade level teams. She also enhanced the curriculum of the Upper School, doubling the number of Advanced Placement courses while also instituting courses that focus on problem-solving and hands-on techniques, such as Conceptual Physics and the Math Resources Lab. Her collaborative working style with teachers has encouraged them to be involved in developing new courses and upgrading existing curriculum, keeping Bay View on the cutting edge of curriculum and technology.

With over twenty years of experience as an educator and administrator, Colleen continues to share her gifts of leadership as Principal of the Middle and Upper Schools; ensuring the high standard of academic achievement that is synonymous with Bay View.

Colleen has been a board member at Sophia Academy, a private all girls middle school in Providence serving 57 students grades 5-8, and a member of the education committee of RISE (Rhode Islanders Sponsoring Education), an organization which “seeks to undo the intergenerational cycle of poverty, addiction and crime by investing in children of incarcerated parents.” She is currently serving her second term on the Network Board for the Sisters of Mercy of Secondary Education and is also currently serving on the board of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League.

She has been involved with the Sisters of Mercy since 1986 and has been a Mercy Associate for the past 25 years.


Board of Trustees

Emily Ann Gilcreast ‘99
Board Co-Chair
Chief of Staff, Johnson and Wales University

Barbara Haynes
Board Co-Chair

Patricia Combies, RSM
Sr. Lecturer, Salve Regina University

Elizabeth H. Demers, ‘99
Sr. Portfolio Manager, TIAA-CREF

James T. Murphy
Retired, Hanson Curran LLP

Sheila O’Brien, RSM, ‘52
Office Assistant, Refocus Inc

W. Kenneth O’Donnell
Partner, D'Agostino & O'Donnell

Matthew T. Oliverio
Partner, Oliverio & Marcaccio LLP

Frederick W. Reinhardt
President, Greenwood Credit Union

Kevin Harrop
Vice President, Caputo and Wick Ltd

Sisters of Mercy

The Sisters of Mercy are an international community of Roman Catholic women who dedicate their lives to the Gospel of Jesus and take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and service. Inspired by the life of Jesus and by their founder Catherine McAuley, Sisters of Mercy envision a just world for people who are poor, sick and uneducated and commit their lives to God and their resources to serve, advocate and pray for those in need around the world. In addition to the three vows (poverty, chastity and obedience) all Catholic sisters take, Sisters of Mercy also take a fourth vow of service.

All Sisters of Mercy worldwide trace their roots to their founder, Catherine McAuley, an Irish Catholic laywoman. Catherine recognized the many needs of people who were economically poor in early nineteenth century Ireland and determined that she and women like her could make a difference.

Spending her inheritance, she opened the first House of Mercy on Lower Baggot Street in Dublin, Ireland on September 24, 1827, a place to shelter and educate women and girls. Catherine's original intention was to assemble a lay corps of Catholic social workers. Impressed by her good works and the importance of continuity in the ministry, the Archbishop of Dublin advised her to establish a religious congregation. Three years later on December 12, 1831, Catherine and two companions became the first Sisters of Mercy.

In the 10 years between the founding and her death, she established 14 independent foundations in Ireland and England. Today, nearly 3,000 Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and more than 3,000 lay Mercy Associates make a difference in the lives of others in North, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Guam and the Philippines.

The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas sponsor more than 200 ministries including elementary and pre-schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities; healthcare facilities; social centers; retreat centers; housing and justice ministries.

Whenever you find a Sister of Mercy, you will find a woman committed to the welfare of the people in the community in which she works and lives.

For more information, visit www.sistersofmercy.org.


Mission

St. Mary Academy - Bay View is an independent, Catholic school serving a diverse population of girls from pre-school through grade twelve.

In the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy, we foster academic excellence in an innovative and creative learning environment.

We are committed to empowering each student to be a confident, independent, compassionate and socially conscious young woman who fully lives her faith.

Values

We support and actively implement the following Mercy values:

Compassion and service
Educational excellence
Concern for women and women's issues
Global vision and responsibility
Spiritual growth and development
Collaboration

History

Opened as St. Mary Seminary in East Providence by the Sisters of Mercy in 1874, St. Mary Academy - Bay View began and continues as a private school for young women.

The Sisters of Mercy continue to sponsor Bay View as a Catholic, all-girls Academy. The focus on single-sex education is rooted in the belief of Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, that, “there is nothing more conducive to the good of society than the education of young women.” Continued research supports this value.

In 1874, the Howard Mansion in Riverside, Rhode Island was purchased by the Sisters of Mercy, under the direction of Mother Mary Bernard Read. The mansion was to be opened as a boarding school for girls. Sister Mary Juliana Purcell was named the first directress, taking charge of students from age five through eighteen.

Fire destroyed the 19th century building in 1948, making construction of the present complex a necessity. St. Mary Academy - Bay View opened for the first session in the present high school building on January 31, 1949.

In January, 1967, St. Mary Academy - Bay View was separately incorporated. The entire elementary school moved to St. Joseph Hall in 1968. The boarding school closed in June, 1979. The elementary school was coeducational for many years. In 1970, when grades seven and eight became part of the high school, education for boys was formally phased out. By the academic year 1995-1996, boys were no longer part of the makeup of the elementary school.

In the spring of 1991, after a year of intense preparation and visitation, the United States Department of Education recognized St. Mary Academy-Bay View as a Blue-Ribbon School of Excellence. Because the level of students continued to become stronger and stronger, by 1996-1997, the curriculum no longer included a level three placement. The Blue-Ribbon School of Excellence was renewed in June 2002.

The Board of Trustees was formed in June, 1991. In September, 1991, a proposal on reconstructing the Academy was presented to the Board of Trustees “that the elementary and high school combine into one institution - Pre-Kindergarten through Grade Twelve under the direction of a president.”

The proposal became a reality; the elementary and high school combined into one institution. The first President was named in the spring of 1994, began her term of office in the fall of 1994 and was installed the following spring.

In the spring of 1996, for the first time in the history of the Academy, a laywoman, a Mercy Associate, was appointed by the President of the Academy to serve as Principal of the Middle / High School. At the same time, a new focus was established; the Middle School concept. After considerable time spent in workshops and courses, the Middle School became a reality in September, 1996.

As part of Bay View’s former Strategic Plan, Bay View 2000, a facilities study was initiated in September, 1997 which resulted in the development of a master facilities plan for the entire complex. The Master Facilities Plan was a multi-phased one. The first phase included construction of an Athletic Wellness Center which supports the Pre-Kindergarten through Grade Twelve physical education and athletic programs. Subsequent phases included the renovation and relocation of the kitchen, dining room and Upper School Library, installation of a sprinkler system and dedicated exits for early childhood classrooms, renovation of Middle School classrooms, replacement of the central heating plant and underground storage tank, replacement of the Mercy Hall elevator and creation of a new main entrance and reception area.

In July of 2012, a laywoman was appointed as the second President of the Academy, Vittoria Pacifico-DeBenedictis. The President initiated the review and completion of Bay View 2000, the review and revision of the Academy’s Mission Statement, and the beginning of the Strategic Plan, Bay View 2020 Vision. The Academy now looks to the future with a sharp focus on providing young women with a superior education, based on Judeo-Christian values and a spirit of innovation.

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