Single-gender education offers an empowering environment.
Vittoria Pacifico-DeBenedictis was recently appointed president of St. Mary Academy-Bay View, a Catholic school for girls in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 in East Providence. For the past 11 years, she has served as principal of St. Francis of Assisi School in Braintree, Mass. Pacifico-DeBenedictis holds a master’s degree in school administration from Emmanuel College and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.
PBN: What makes you passionate about Catholic education?
PACIFICO: : Not only am I passionate about Catholic education, but Catholic education in the all-girls tradition. A Catholic education, particularly one steeped in the traditions and values of the Sisters of Mercy, is so important today. It stands apart as a stalwart with values and morals that date back to foundational basics; something which is important when young girls are constantly challenged with an ever-changing society.
PBN: Tell us about the advantages of a noncoed education from your perspective as an educator and as a former student.
PACIFICO: : I chose to follow the path of an all-girls education through high school, college and at the master’s-degree level. I learned early on that my voice would always be heard, my opinions would always be viewed as valid and that my self-importance, respect and confidence would always rise above all else. … Single-gender education offers an empowering environment where girls are encouraged to be strong, independent, self-confident young women who take risks, push each other to be the best they can be and learn how to lead in any setting.
PBN: In your new position at Bay View, what do you hope to accomplish?
PACIFICO: : I hope to continue to shine a light on the school as a beacon and example for all other Catholic, female schools. Traditions are important to preserve and highlight and I intend to place Bay View in the spotlight on not only a local level, but capitalize on our national connections. My goals are to unite all constituencies, including alumnae, donors, current parents, past parents, faculty, staff, administration and, most importantly, students in order to build upon the solid foundation here at Bay View and continue to move the academy forward into the 21st century with excitement, energy and vigor. •