The Mary Louis Academy

The Mary Louis Academy, also known as TMLA, is an all-girls private Catholic college preparatory academy, located in Jamaica Estates, Queens, New York City. TMLA's 5-acre (20,000 m2) campus encompasses 8 separate buildings situated on private grounds, crowning the top of one of the highest hills in Queens, hence TMLA's interscholastic nickname "The Hilltoppers."

The Mary Louis Academy
TMLA Main.jpg
176-21 Wexford Terrace
Mother Mary Louis Way


United States
Coordinates40°42′45″N 73°47′15″W / 40.71250°N 73.78750°W / 40.71250; -73.78750Coordinates: 40°42′45″N 73°47′15″W / 40.71250°N 73.78750°W / 40.71250; -73.78750
TypePrivate, Day, College-prep
MottoFidem Servavi
(I Have Kept the Faith)
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic
(Sisters of St. Joseph)
Patron saint(s)Louis IX of France
Blessed Mother
FounderMother Mary Louis
School districtRoman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn
School code016
DeanDanielle McCormack
Dean of Seniors

Kathleen Dreyer
Dean of Juniors

Jennifer Murillo
Dean of Sophomores

Laura Matelsky-Antzoulis '09
Dean of Freshwomen

PrincipalAnn O'Hagan-Cordes '84

Facultyapprox 100
Enrollmentapprox 900 (2019)
Average class size25
Student to teacher ratio13:1
CampusMain Building

The Wing

Mary Louis Convent

Art Cottage

Charlie's House

White Cottage

Formation Cottage

St. Joseph House

Edgerton Courtyard

McKinney Garden

Senior Lawn

Butterfly Garden

Marian Shrine

Ecology Garden

Campus size5 acres (20,000 m2)
Campus typeSuburban
Color(s)Columbia Blue and Gold         
Athletics conferenceCHSAA
NicknameMary Louis / TMLA
Team nameHilltoppers
AccreditationMiddle States Association of Colleges and Schools[1]
Publication"Spring"(literary mag.)
AlumniOver 20,000

Assistant PrincipalsJean Mauro

Joseph Lewinger
Student Life

Alumnae MagazineMariel-After
Department HeadsSean Belon
Director of Advancement & Alumnae Relations

Joseph Lewinger
Director of Athletics

Joanne Connolly-McGrath '72
Chair of English

Jenny Limberg-Durkin '98
Chair of Fine Arts

Maria Finnochio
Chief Financial Officer

Josephine Bonanno
General Office Manager

Sister Joan Killen CSJ
Chair of Guidance

Hercules Small
Plant Manager

Rita Piro '77
Chair of Language Other Than English

Marie Whelan

Heather Reklis-Albanese
Chair of Mathematics

Brian Siemers
Chair of Music

Laura Rodgers
Chair of Religious Studies

Martha Seitz-Rezin '72
Chair of the Sciences

Loriann Murphy '89
Chair of Social Studies

Philip Mercaldi
Director of Information Systems

CSJ Sister SchoolsSacred Heart Academy (New York)

Fontbonne Hall Academy

Academia Maria Reina

St. Joseph High School (Brooklyn)

Affiliated collegesColumbia University

St. John's University (New York)

Saint Joseph's College (New York)

The Mary Louis Academy was founded in 1936, by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, New York, as the fruition of their late General Superior, Mother Mary Louis's, dream to found an academy for young women in Queens. Archbishop Thomas Edmund Molloy had a hand in the birth of TMLA due to his strong personal conviction that the girls of the Diocese of Brooklyn deserved an academy all their own which would foster all of their individual talents and guide them to success.


For over 80 years, the Academy's tall, brick and limestone Collegiate Gothic main building on Wexford Terrace has been a distinctive part of the Queens skyline. Despite the increasing number of buildings, it is an architectural landmark that can be seen clearly from the Long Island Railroad. This is fitting because it was while traveling on the Long Island Railroad in early 1932 that, Mother Mary Louis, General Superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph, first gazed upon a beautiful hilltop in the countryside of Jamaica Estates and selected it as her ideal site for an academy. Although Mother Mary Louis died suddenly on May 22, 1932, her dream of establishing this academy for young women in the urban enclave of Jamaica Estates lived on among her congregation of sisters.

When Mother Mary Louis's plans to build this academy for girls in Queens were set in motion, the Sisters of St. Joseph came upon an obstacle, that hilltop, the Fox/Adikes estate "Rose Crest", had already been purchased by the Passionist priests of the neighboring Immaculate Conception Monastery, with the intent to build a high school seminary for boys at that location. Archbishop Thomas Molloy intervened and convinced the Passionists to sell the estate to the Josephites, for exactly what they had paid for it themselves.

In 1935 the Sisters of St. Joseph officially acquired the hilltop Rose Crest estate, a landmark of turn of the century Queens, and the Mediterranean Revival white stucco mansion became the convent for the Sisters who were to staff this "Private School for Girls." Mother Mary Louis had intended the new academy to be named Mother Fontbonne Academy, in memory of Jeanne Fontbonne, the foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Le Puy, France. Archbishop Molloy suggested that the Academy be named in memory of Mother Mary Louis herself, as she had been such a driving force for education in New York and had personally chosen this property. Sister Mary Angelica Clarkin CSJ, Ph.D., the founding principal, applied to the New York Department of Education for the official Academy charter in the name "Mother Mary Louis Academy." When the charter was delivered, it arrived with the first two letters, as well as the last, in the word "Mother" missing, thus the word "The" was permanently affixed to the name of The Mary Louis Academy.

The first students were fifteen young women who were greeted by a faculty of eight sisters for the first day of school on September 14, 1936. Classes were held in the parlor of the mansion that presently adjoins the Academy (now known as the Mary Louis Convent), while plans for the permanent Academy building were formulated. During this time two wings were also added to the mansion, housing a refectory and a Mission style chapel.

The architect of the Academy's building, Henry Murphy, stated that he wanted to evoke the feel of the private prep schools found in New England. Mr Murphy proceeded to model the building after the Sterling Law Building at Yale University. The completed Academy building took shape over a period of two years and finally opened its doors on October 16, 1938 providing numerous classrooms and offices along with science laboratories, a Gymnasium, Locker Room, Cafeteria, Reception Parlor, Auditorium and Library. The beautiful Collegiate Gothic masterpiece, now known as the "Main" building, stands as a structural testament to both art and architecture. James Nelson, the builder of TMLA, celebrated the birth of his daughter during the building's construction by naming her for the Academy. Mr. Nelson subsequently registered his newborn daughter as TMLA's first prospective student. Mary Louis Nelson went on to graduate from TMLA in 1955.

In 1938 TMLA also opened the doors to the Mary Louis Kindergarten, a one-year pre-school program for 5-year-old girls and boys. The Kindergarten was housed in a cottage adjacent to the Convent and later moved to Immaculata Hall one of the larger cottages on the Academy's campus (the present day Formation Cottage). Many of the female graduates of the Mary Louis Kindergarten, including Mary Louis Nelson, went on to graduate from TMLA itself.

From the very beginning, a variety of extra-curricular activities extended the interests of the students. Mariel, the school newspaper, published its first issue in 1936. Glee Club and Orchestra, the drama club Genesians, and the language clubs fostered student talents. The Athletic Association sponsored field days and many intramural events. The Christmas Pageant, sponsored by the Sodality, became an annual event. TMLA's Forensics Team (Speech & Debate) was gifted with their long serving Head Coach Bob Sheppard. Sports Night provided the students with the opportunity to exhibit their school pride and creativity, this evolved into Spirit Night and has become one of TMLA's most beloved and hallowed annual traditions. The year 1940 saw the first Commencement Exercises of The Mary Louis Academy, with the introduction of the C.L.S. Award. The C.L.S. Award is the Academy's highest honor and is awarded to graduates who most exemplify the three main hallmarks of a Mary Louis woman - Character, Loyalty and Spirit of Study.

Less than twenty years after its founding, the Academy's population had outgrown the building. All available space, including the Reception Parlor, the Faculty Dining Room, and several music rooms, had already been converted to classrooms. In 1955 construction began on an addition, initially to be named DeChantal Wing, but ever after known simply as "The Wing." When the new wing was opened in 1957, the capacity of the Academy was doubled. The original Cafeteria, DeChantal Hall, was redesigned into a new seven room Music Complex, the original Locker Room became the ten room Guidance Complex, the Reception Parlor became the General Office, a new Biology Laboratory, a new Cafeteria, a Board Room, a Home Economics Complex, a new Locker Room and many classrooms were added. The new construction also added a third wing to the convent, in order to house the additional Sisters needed to staff the enlarged Academy.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Academy knew many more changes in curriculum and the use of physical space. These came as a response to the educational climate of the times and the revision of the secondary school curriculum by the New York Department of Education. Resource Centers were created, a new Art Studio (named the Art Cottage) was constructed on the campus, and the Library was enlarged. The 1970s also saw the Mary Louis Kindergarten close its doors, in deference to the neighboring Immaculate Conception Elementary School instituting a Kindergarten program of their own.

As a response to the needs of the 1980s, Computer Science was introduced, and a Computer Room was created. The Academy applied for and was granted accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The Board Room was renovated and consecrated as the Academy's student Chapel to provide a sacred space that welcomes both faculty and students. This decade also saw the expansion of the campus with the purchase of neighboring property. In the 1990s, focusing their vision toward the education of today's young women who must meet the challenges of the 21st century, two state-of-the-art computer laboratories were added and the Chemistry, Physics and Earth Science Laboratories were completely renovated and technologically updated. In addition to the new laboratories, computers were added to the resource centers, every classroom and the Library.

In the new millennium the Auditorium underwent a period renovation with restored lighting, refinished stage, new flooring, cushioned seats and air conditioning. The Main Staircase, constructed in 1937 of carved limestone and glazed terracotta tile, underwent an architectural restoration and the General Office (the original Reception Parlor) was restored to its 1938 floorplan. Home Economics was removed from the New York State Regents curriculum and the Home Economics Complex was redesigned into three additional classrooms. In 2004, TMLA expanded a third time, absorbing and totally renovating the adjacent wing of the Convent. This expansion provided more classrooms as well as additional academic and counseling offices. Since 2008 the Biology Laboratory and Art Cottage underwent state-of-the art renovations along with the installation of SMARTBoard technology in every classroom, laboratory and resource center throughout the campus.

In 2011 the number of Sisters residing in the Mary Louis Convent had dwindled to such a point that it was no longer feasible for them to maintain such a large residence, as a result the remaining Sisters relocated to neighboring convents and the Convent building was turned over to TMLA for The Academy's use. In the summer of 2014 TMLA expanded once again by totally renovating and repurposing the former Convent Building (the original Rose Crest Mansion). This expansion and renovation resulted in the addition of over 12,500 square feet to The Academy's facilities including a Student Lounge, Art Solarium, Robotics/Engineering Laboratory, Mathematics Laboratory, Culinary Arts Center, an 11 bedroom overnight Student Retreat facility and a return to the original Mission-style Chapel.

Upon the recommendation of the New York City Council, the Office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg approved the naming of Wexford Terrace between Edgerton Boulevard and Dalny Road, Mother Mary Louis Way, in honor of Mother Mary Louis Crummey CSJ, founder and namesake of The Mary Louis Academy. The 18-month-long process culminated with a televised dedication ceremony on May 1, 2009.

In the mid-1930s it was considered a heroic act of faith to establish a school of any kind. In the midst of The Great Depression, when the prevailing spirit was one of pessimism, building a college preparatory academy for young women was a statement of belief in the future, and in the contributions of Catholic education and women of vision to that future. The founders of The Mary Louis Academy were women of great faith and vision. They saw the women who graduated from Mary Louis as a force for good in society. The Mary Louis woman would make a difference.

The Mary Louis Academy is chartered by the University of the State of New York, accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and sponsored by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.


The Mary Louis Academy's goal is to educate the world's future leaders. TMLA encourages every young woman to realize her own unique talents and gifts. For this reason, TMLA women enjoy a rigorous academic curriculum in an atmosphere that fosters academic excellence and respect for all.

  • Student : teacher ratio of 13:1
  • An average class size of 25
  • A dynamic and fluid Honors Program, as well as 17 Advanced Placement course offerings, starting in 9th grade.
  • An affiliate program with St. John's University through which seniors earn credits toward a baccalaureate degree while attending classes at TMLA.
  • Over 85% of TMLA's graduates earn college credit while attending TMLA.
  • Every year 100% of TMLA's graduates go on to college.
  • 100% of every graduating class receive the New York State Regents Diploma
  • Over 90% of graduating class is awarded the New York State Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, the State of New York's highest academic standard.
  • 85% of TMLA's graduates are awarded at least one academic merit-based scholarship to college.
  • State-of-the-art science laboratories for Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science and Biology
  • Full Robotics/Engineering Laboratory.
  • Full Mathematics Laboratory.
  • Two full state-of-the-art Computer Laboratories.
  • "SMARTBoard" technology in every classroom and laboratory.
  • Wireless internet access throughout the entire campus.
  • iPads issued to all incoming freshwomen.
  • Library with over 9,000 volumes, over 50 periodicals updated weekly/monthly, desktops, laptops and Nooks for student use.
  • Media Center with over 40 online research databases that may be accessed in school and from home.
  • Over 200 brand new computers throughout the campus.
  • Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors are afforded the availability of annual cultural trips to Europe, sponsored and chaperoned by TMLA.
  • TMLA's young women enjoy the support and direction of the same guidance counselor for all four years.
  • Juniors and Seniors have an additional full-time college counselor, dedicated to guiding them individually through every aspect of the collegiate admissions and decision making process.
  • The 200 top ranking Juniors and Seniors enjoy the benefit of TMLA's "Ivy/Elite College Initiative" through which they are provided with independent college consultants and overnight trips to tour Ivy League and other Elite colleges and universities, and meet with representatives of the institutions so as to make an indepth, informed decision as to which school they would like to attend.
  • All Juniors and Seniors enjoy the unique availability of a nationally renowned SAT preparation course offered on campus at TMLA.
  • Students are annually among those recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program.


The Mary Louis Academy provides a values-oriented atmosphere of respect for all people and all faiths which in turn nurtures the whole person by integrating faith and life. TMLA's spiritual curriculum follows the Catholic tradition of service to the community, fostering a mindful awareness, tolerance and respect for self and others. Opportunities for spiritual growth and service to those in need are made available to all students.

  • Overnight retreats available to all students at St. Joseph's Villa, the CSJ beachfront estate in the Hamptons.
  • Annual full day retreats for each grade level at St. Joseph's Renewal Center.
  • Two full Chapels on campus.
  • Overnight retreat facility on campus.
  • Full-time Campus Minister on premises.
  • Mass offered every day in TMLA's Chapels, open to any students who wish to attend.
  • Service Homerooms where students volunteer to plan and carry out varied types of events and service projects designed to increase the community's awareness of social justice issues and bring about positive change in the world.
  • Junior's each contribute 50 hours of volunteer service to a program they select which provides help to individuals in need.
  • School-wide service projects to provide support and relief to those in need around the world.


The Mary Louis Academy, in keeping with its belief in nourishing every single facet of a young woman's life, offers the largest and most comprehensive all female athletic program in the City of New York. TMLA sponsors over 25 championship winning athletic teams in 13 separate areas of interest, including Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Cheerleading, Dance, Golf, Lacrosse, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Track and Volleyball.

Due to the high demand for competitive opportunities by student-athletes, TMLA has been afforded membership in two separate Athletic Conferences: the Brooklyn/Queens CHSAA and the Nassau/Suffolk CHSAA.

The athletic program has developed a cooperative program with the Academy's Guidance Department and Administration to monitor and encourage the number of scholar-athletes applications to colleges and universities which offer scholarships that combine academic and athletic achievement.


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ MSA-CSS. "MSA-Commission on Secondary Schools". Archived from the original on 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2009-05-27.