By Chelsea Madden APR 2016
For over 140 years, Mount de Sales academy, located in historic downtown Macon, has provided a tradition of academic excellence with a rich spiritual context. In 1871, the five Sisters of Mercy established the Academy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in which Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish children were all taught how to live a God-centered life in the midst of academic and social challenges. When school was not in session, the five Sisters of Mercy dedicated their time to serving the poor in a free school that was located in the basement of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Soon after, the Academy was chartered and renamed in 1876—and the school has been educating students from a variety of backgrounds ever since. Today, Mount de Sales is the only independent, Catholic, college-preparatory school in Middle Georgia for co-ed students in grades 6–12.
To meet the challenges of the 21st century yet maintain the vision of the five Sisters of Mercy, the Mount de Sales mission statement ensures that “the Academy is committed to educating young men and women of all cultural, economic, and religious backgrounds” through its devotion “to academic excellence, service to the community, global awareness, and life-long learning.” However, this mission and these goals would not be properly accomplished without the teachings of Jesus, the Gospel, and Christ-like action, which are at the helm of Mount de Sales’ curriculum. Protecting these beliefs and keeping them in motion is Mount de Sales’ president, Mr. David Held, who has been serving the Academy since 2010.
Held has spent his entire professional career in Catholic Schools and has assumed many roles in Catholic education—as a teacher, assistant principal, and academic dean. Additionally, prior to becoming President of Mount de Sales Academy, he was a Catholic school principal at both the elementary and secondary school levels, and was principal of Bishop England High School in Charleston, South Carolina.
Mr. Held received a BA in Economics at The University of the South at Sewanee in 1976; and shortly after, he acquired an MA in 1983 from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in Secondary Administration and Supervision.
Mount de Sales Academy is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Secondary Schools (SACS) and the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS). The school, split into middle and upper grade levels, has a total of 610 students. Together, the administration in the Middle and Upper schools of the Academy, has faith that “Every person is called to holiness and to develop a relationship with a personal and loving God.” The Academy’s Middle and Upper schools share several core values that remind students of their obligation to love and respect each human being.
Values and beliefs such as compassion and service, educational excellence, concerns for women and women’s issues, global vision and responsibility, spiritual growth and development, and the collaboration with others contribute to students’ experiences while at Mount de Sales.
Specifically, in the Academy’s Middle School, the curriculum is designed around the Carnegie Council of Adolescent Development’s eight principles for middle school education, which socially and intellectually prepare students for everyday situations. As part of this, kids participate in weekly “House” meetings with student-led activities, intramurals, and assemblies. The Mount de Sales Middle School experience and curriculum also allows students to cooperate in grade-level community outreach programs such as Heart Health Awareness, Local Hunger and Poverty Outreach, and Literacy Readiness.
In Upper School, the curriculum is based on a rigorous, college-preparatory program that engages students intellectually and helps them define their passion, ultimately preparing them for the pursuit of higher education. New courses in the Upper School curriculum include Women’s Literature, AP Physics 2, Philanthropy, and Studies in Leadership. Also, beginning with the Class of 2019, six endorsements will be added to the Academy’s Diploma as part of the school’s new vision for its Upper School academic program (Operation Bedrock).
Likewise, Mount de Sales’ students are admitted to the most highly respected colleges and universities. The school attributes this to “creative and talented faculty” that “provides students with the stimulating instruction needed to meet their goals.” The Class of 1015 demonstrated this by receiving more than $7.2 million in scholarships, not including HOPE.
However, the Academy’s successes are not limited to scholastic accomplishments alone. The Academy’s sports achievements are equally as impressive. Two swimmers placed first (Davis Kunselman, 100 breaststroke; Sean McMahon, 100 backstroke) in the 2016 Central Georgia Championships. And on the wrestling team, nine wrestlers qualified for state sectionals tournament. New to the sports program this year was lacrosse. And in 2016–2017 academic year, clay shooting will be added as well.
With its Catholic heritage, rigorous academic program, and strong extracurricular program, Mount de Sales Academy surely proves itself as one of the best private schools in Middle Georgia! #
851 Orange Street
Macon GA, 31201