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Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School

Voices of Villa

Summer Experience Broadens Science Curriculum

Villa's Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Kirstin Blase, spent her summer working in the lab of Michael Vahey, a biomedical engineering professor at Washington University. The position was funded by the National Science Foundation. Before her career at Villa, Mrs. Blase worked in the Division of Radiological Sciences in the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Wash U's medical school, where she researched radioactive compounds used in positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. "As a scientist, I loved being in the lab and doing research," Blase said. "As a teacher, the idea of observing real-world research and incorporating it into my classroom sounded like fun!" Mrs. Blase is developing a curriculum inspired by the lab's work with fluorescent microscopy. "I interviewed each of the doctoral students to understand what their part of the research was and to build a knowledge base of antibody and virus interactions so I could incorporate that into my chemistry curriculum. In class, we'll talk about how vaccines are developed and how an antibody neutralizes a virus. I hope to connect those chemistry concepts to a real-world application," said Blase. Professor Vahey is excited about the outreach aspect of this program. "The National Science Foundation has always had STEM education as a central pillar of its mission. We need to expand the pipeline of trainees. By giving students early exposure to science and engineering [through their teacher], hopefully, they'll better understand this is a career option that's open to everyone." 

Read more on the Washington University McKelvey School of Engineering's website! Excerpt from an article written by Danielle Lacey, Integrated Marketing Manager, Washington University McKelvey School of Engineering. 

My Teacher Inspired Me

Heidi Fesler ’25 is pictured with her painting of Booney, which was featured in the Young Artists’ Showcase at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild. Heidi said, “I decided to paint my childhood all-time favorite stuffed animal, Booney, for my second still life project of the year. The unique name stuck with me, and to this day, Booney is still special to me. Mrs. Sarra inspired me to be creative with this painting as she constantly pushed me to keep going even when I doubted myself. Without her, I would not have been able to get accepted into the St. Louis Artists’ Guild."


Goals Prayer

Everything we do at Villa is guided by the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart education. Our daily life animates the goals, and the goals inspire us to be the best possible school for our students. The Sacred Heart Goals Prayer simplifies the goals in a beautiful way:

Gracious God,

Instill in each of us a bold faith; A deep respect for intellectual values; A passionate desire to serve others, especially those most in need; An instinct for building community; And a profound and honest commitment to our personal growth. May we always act as persons of courage, confidence, compassion, and integrity.



Outdoor Education at Villa

All of the research related to outdoor education demonstrates that being outside benefits children in so many ways! Villa's lower school continually succeeds in building outdoor learning experiences into the curriculum and programming by using our expansive campus. Two full days each year, our lower school participates in Outdoor Classroom Day, a global movement to make time outdoors a part of every child's day. Our students have the most magical outdoor play environment, with two playgrounds, the Epic Woods (just ask to see it!), countless fields, Deer Creek, and our own nature trail!


Returning Home

"My Sacred Heart education at Villa was a life-changing experience. The relationships I formed when I was a student at Villa kept me connected to the school and my experience as a student. When I had the opportunity to come back to Villa as a summer intern, the choice was easy. I was inspired to return again to Villa to begin my teaching career because this place has been so meaningful to me. I love working with our bright, brilliant students. There is truly nowhere else I would rather be teaching! -Ms. Lily Carse '17, Middle School Faculty 


Congé is the BEST!

There is truly nothing like experiencing Congé at Villa! Congé (pronounced "con-jay") is a surprise day, set aside for all of our students to celebrate our school community. Students come to school in the morning thinking it's a normal day, only to discover it's going to be a day of fun, games, bonding, and special treats for everyone. The biggest question every year is, "When is Congé?"


Why I love teaching at Villa

"Villa's seventh grade is the most welcoming community I have ever been a part of. The bond is nearly instant, the teachers are caring, and the students have the freedom to find themselves while finding new friendships in their new home. I am blessed to teach seventh grade because this is an age in which abilities and knowledge grow by leaps and bounds; students can suddenly do so much more than they ever believed. I know that it is a special thing to be a part of." —Mrs. Danielle Thurm, Villa Middle School English Faculty