St. Teresa’s Academy Educating Young Women for 150 Years
One hundred and fifty years ago, St. Teresa’s Academy (STA) was founded at 11th and Washington in Kansas City, Missouri. Since 1866, STA has educated young women as the first school in KC. What makes this all-girls Catholic high school so special is that they “educate the whole woman.” In addition to basic core curriculum, STA helps students grow in their faith, creativity, and leadership.
On September 1, 1866, STA opened its doors to 140 students representing French, Irish, German, Italian, Spanish, and American descents. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, with the help of Father Donnelly, cared for and educated young women from various backgrounds.
STA’s current residence was determined in 1908, first constructing the Music and Arts Building. Mother Evelyn O’Neil named the new location “Windmoor” for the constant wind blowing through the prairie that was soon to be a campus. In 1913, Mother Evelyn purchased trees for the campus, which she later found out had been stolen from Swope Park. The trees remained on the campus nonetheless.
Donnelly Hall was constructed in 1941, and was used for the college, later named Avila University. Avila moved off of the Windmoor campus in 1963, and the high school expanded to both buildings. The Goppert Center and gymnasium opened in 1982. The Windmoor Center / Chapel of St. Joseph debuted in 2010.
Fast forward to 2016… The now college preparatory high school continues traditions like singing the alma mater, father-daughter dance, Catholic curriculum, Academy Woman designation, Mother Evelyn O’Neil Award, and the beloved all-girls environment. In celebration of the 150th year, Mayor Sly James declared 2016 “The Year of the Young Woman” on February 1. Prior to this declaration, the school kicked off the anniversary year by throwing a “surprise party” for the students in the Goppert Center.
Leawood resident Maggie Feilder, a sophomore at STA, feels the passion each student and teacher has for learning and teaching is evident. “Aside from the well rounded education that students are receiving,” Fielder said, “there’s also a strong sense of sisterhood and community that makes STA special.”
Claire Jefferson, a Leawood resident and member of the Class of 2016, felt lucky to be a part of the 150th anniversary celebration during her senior year. As a recent alumna, she is excited to represent a strong alumnae base. “STA students strive to serve the Kansas City community not only in their four years on campus, but in their many years after graduation,” Jefferson said.
Current STA president, Nan Bone, graduated from STA in 1969. Her passion for STA shines through every word she speaks of it. Bone believes that STA is important to the history of KC as the city’s first educational institution, not only surviving since 1866 but “thriving.” She says that she can “speak from experience” when she says that an education from STA is special. STA teaches “confidence and empowerment” so its students develop a “deeper sense of self, sense of purpose, sense of service.” Bone was apart of the development of the anniversary’s motto, “More starts here.”
“We educate the whole woman,” Bone said. “That more is what we are.”
To students and alumnae, STA is more than a high school. It is a home that represents countless memories and friendships. The STA class ring is more than a piece of jewelry that sits in a box upon a shelf or hidden away in a drawer. It is worn as a symbol of the bond that is created between STA and her students because when it comes to this historic KC gem, more is the best way to describe it.