Updated: Nov 17, 2021

On October 17th 2021 Dr. Reaves travelled to Philadelphia to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. The year-long celebration ended with a Liturgy at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul and a luncheon reception.

October 15, 1846 is formally recognized as the date of the founding of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus by Cornlia Connelly at the request of Pope Gregory XVI. For 175 years, the Society’s members have lived out Cornelia’s vision to “meet the wants of the age.”

Cornelia Connelly, a woman ahead of her time, promoted an approach to education based on trust and reverence for every human being. Her schools encourage children to develop to their full potential, based on her firm belief that all fields of study contribute to the development of that potential.

“Trust the children and never let your confidence in them be shaken. Confidence begets confidence.” Cornelia Connelly

When Washington School for Girls closed our doors in March 2020 and began distance-learning, our main focus was to “fill the gaps” when it comes to technology at home for our students. Prior to closing our doors, various surveys were sent to the WSG families to gain an understanding of the types of technological resources that they may need in the event of a shutdown. As a result of these surveys, WSG was prepared to provide students and families with devices, internet hotspots, and in some cases, noise-cancelling headphones.

Our main priority was to make sure that the learning could continue seamlessly through a virtual platform. As we finished the 2019-2020 year at home knowing that we would likely continue distance-learning into the next academic year, our priorities of ensuring seamless learning remained. COVID-19 certainly demonstrated the importance of access to virtual learning.

Because we were able to equip all of our students to fully participate in distance learning, our creative and flexible teachers were able to design a year of learning that not only developed students’ academic skills, but also their comfort with a variety of technology tools. Students became adept users of collaborative platforms, creative multimedia tools, and learning portals. This experience has led to an increased interest in STEM clubs, with students participating in coding, digital music, and graphic design clubs this semester.

Moving forward, WSG will continue to provide the necessary technical support to students, knowing that we have all plans in place should we need to revert to distance-learning.


  • 10 internet hotspots were provided to families to ensure stable internet connection at home

  • WSG has applied for a grant from the Emergency Connectivity Fund which would provide funding for ~30 LTE enabled Chromebooks (laptops). With LTE, students will be able to use their devices wherever cell phone service is available.

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Last week while preparing for International Day of the Girl and in thinking about this year’s theme “Digital Generation, Our Generation”, I reached out to women in our community who are currently leaders in the S.T.E.M. field to learn more about their experiences and the paths that led them to their current roles. I wanted to know how they got there and how our girls could get there. Between laughs and storytelling these women left me with some very inspiring and important words of wisdom. Here’s what I learned:

1. You cannot be what you don’t see.

  1. Elizabeth Collins Burkhart, Executive Vice President of Collins Engineers, Inc., is the daughter of a civil engineer and she deeply appreciated the path and life that her father was able to create with his career. She married her passion for building with financial freedom. Miya Gray was encouraged to participate in a program through the Society of Women Engineers at Jefferson junior high school in Washington D.C. and met engineers that she admired and other girls like her that she could relate to. Her math teacher helped her complete the application for summer programs that ultimately helped her decide that this was the field for her. Katie Palencsar didn’t know a world that combined advocacy for women and technology existed growing up in her small central PA town. After a career as a New York City public school teacher that led her into educational technology, a technology based woman CEO helped her imagine a career path in venture capital specifically for female-founded financial technology companies.

2. Middle school is a pivotal point for girls to actively engage into paths that lead to STEM based careers.

  1. Math and Science lay the foundation for many of the careers that are STEM focused. Fostering a love in these subjects is a key element in making sure more girls enter STEM careers in the future. Ilene Landon, a Senior VP of Global Professional Services at HireVue, loved Math and Science growing up. Miya Gray was an exceptional mathematician in middle and high school. She grew that actively through her career but recognized the importance of sticking with it from an early age. Elizabeth Bukhart’s firm is actively connecting with middle schools like Washington School for Girls and Trinity High School in River Forest, IL to advocate for more girls that have the potential to move into civil engineering.

3. The use of technology is multifaceted in STEM careers.

  1. For Ilene Landon, the use of technology starts within her own team. She uses things like Slack, Salesforce, and Google suite to manage her team's projects, metrics, and documentation. Projects are also technology based as her team implements software for clients; she interacts with customers and her team via Zoom. Still Elizabeth Burkhart’s speciality in civil engineering is building and repairing ports. She uses technology to inspect and assess infrastructure. Miya Grey is responsible for creating novel digital experiences for patients, doctors and colleagues linked to Pfizer.

4. STEM Career women are “people” people

  1. I learned that you can love the very concrete and structured business of S.T.E.M. focused careers with its math and hard lines AND be customer facing, empathetic to your team, and staked in your womanhood. There was a common voice among all the women that I spoke to that women are emotionally connected--not emotional.

5. Women are actively changing the landscape of STEM leadership

  1. Katie Palencsar realized that the world of female financial technology innovators was small and that she could play a major role in elevating the voice of female founders through venture capital. She is an advocate for women-led technology companies. She helps them reach their full potential by making sure they have the resources they need to be competitive in the market. Miya Gray takes her role as a leader seriously by making sure the people that she leads on her team are able to use their voice and present their ideas in larger company wide meetings. She recognizes her power and uses it to uplift others on her team. Ilene Landon started a mentoring program within her company to help grow female leadership within HireVue and give them a space to ask questions and learn from leaders like her.

Elizabeth Collins Burkhart, P.E. currently serves as Executive Vice President for Collins Engineers, Inc. She initially pursued a structural engineering degree because she could use science and technology to solve practical problems. As a result, Liz has spent over 20 years designing, maintaining, and managing civil infrastructure, including navigation structures and roadway assets.

Miya Gray currently serves as the Vice President of Customer Experience and Engagement (CX&E) at Pfizer. Miya is a results-driven and customer-focused executive leader who brings 20 years of experience in customer experience and engagement, and healthcare and medical technology.

Ilene Landon is Senior VP of Global Professional Services at HireVue, the market leader in video interviewing, assessments, and candidate engagement. She is also a mentor and coach, has established workplace mentoring programs for women, and has a passion for helping women find their swagger and confidence.

Katie Palencsar is Managing Director and Global Head of Venture Studio at Anthemis Group where she leads the Female Innovators Lab in partnership with Barclays, dedicated to investing in early stage female founders in fintech. Previously she founded and led data SaaS company, Unbound Concepts from ideation to exit. A first generation college graduate and former New York City DOE teacher, her passion lies in building opportunities for diverse talent in investment and technology.