Waldron Mercy Academy
Waldron Mercy Academy is a K-8 Catholic private elementary school, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and located in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, located in Merion Station, Pennsylvania, USA. The school is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and has twice won National Blue Ribbon School recognition (in 2001 and 2009) by the United States Department of Education.
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In 1861, Sister Mary Patricia Waldron, who was 26 at the time, and ten Sisters of Mercy landed in Philadelphia in order to serve the uneducated, poor, and the ailing in the city. Because many of the Sisters became ill themselves while aiding the sick in the city, Waldron bought an eight-acre retreat in Merion for their recovery. In 1885, the adjoining Morgan Estate was purchased. The 13-room stone house became St. Anne Convent, and the farmhouse held the Village School for the local farm children.
The Sisters of Mercy began Mater Misericordiae, an academy for young ladies and boys under 12 years of age, in 1885. In 1923, the male boarding students moved to a new school on the property—Waldron Academy for Boys.
By 1946 the boarders had gone, and Waldron Academy was an all-boys school which was still taught by the Sisters of Mercy. Lay faculty and staff joined the ranks in the 1950s, and soon after Waldron had a preschool, as well as a co-educational Montessori program.
In September 1987 Waldron Academy for Boys and Merion Mercy Academy for Girls (lower school) merged and reopened as Waldron Mercy Academy, a Catholic co-educational school from pre-kindergarten to grade eight. Waldron Mercy Child Care, a year-round program for children ages three months to four years, was added to the school 15 years later.
The third floor attic, which used to keep the boarders' trunks, is now the Albert T. Perry Memorial Library, which has an art studio and a computer lab. The basement's "little gym" is now the Music Suite, and WMA's science lab prepares students for high school science classes.
Margie Winters controversy
In 2015, the Academy came under public scrutiny for firing a teacher who is in a same-sex marriage because the school administration decided that its Catholic identity would be in jeopardy. Many teachers and parents in the school community disagree with the decision and are voicing their support of the teacher.
The school's director of religious education, Margie Winters, was dismissed from the Academy after a parent reported her directly to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for marrying her lesbian partner in a civil ceremony in 2007. Winters had been upfront with school administrators at the time of her hiring and was advised to keep a low profile which she says she did. A parent subsequently reported the fact that she had married directly to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In response, the principal asked her to resign. Winters declined to do so, and the school decided not to renew her contract. Many parents expressed anger and concern over the school's decision. Principal Nell Stetser said that "many of us accept life choices that contradict current Church teachings, but to continue as a Catholic school, Waldron Mercy must comply with those teachings." But she called urgently for "an open and honest discussion about this and other divisive issues at the intersection of our society and our Church." The Huffington Post said that the Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput, as of July 2015[update], has not responded to such a call. Chaput said the administrators showed "character and common sense at a moment when both seem to be uncommon."
In 2016, a team of three boys in fourth grade won the Toshiba ExploraVision competition's region 2 competition besting hundreds of teams and schools along the east coast. In 2015, a team of three third grade girls won the national competition besting all teams in the K-3 grade level. Waldron has participated in the Toshiba ExploraVision competition for 12 years, winning multiple honors including national, regional, and honorable mentions for the last four years.
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- Desmond, Joan Frawley (July 21, 2015). "A Catholic Mother Reflects on Furor Over Philly Teacher in Same-Sex Marriage". Retrieved September 24, 2015.
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- Statement of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. Regarding Waldron Mercy Academy
- "TOSHIBA AND NSTA ANNOUNCE 2015 NATIONAL WINNERS OF EXPLORAVISION COMPETITION | ExploraVision". www.exploravision.org. Retrieved 2016-09-23.
- Blue Ribbon Schools Program: Schools Recognized 1982-1983 through 1999-2002 (PDF), accessed 5 December 2009.
- Graham, Kristen A. (2009-09-16). "5 area schools win U.S. Blue Ribbon honors". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2009-12-05.[dead link]
- CIBA cited as one of the best by Education Department, Journal Inquirer, November 16, 2006. "The Blue Ribbon award is given only to schools that reach the top 10 percent of their state's testing scores over several years or show significant gains in student achievement. It is considered the highest honor a school can achieve."
- Viers Mill School Wins Blue Ribbon; School Scored High on Statewide Test; The Washington Post. September 29, 2005. "For their accomplishments, all three schools this month earned the status of Blue Ribbon School, the highest honor the U.S. Education Department can bestow upon a school."
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