Since their founding in Le Puy, France in 1650, the Sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph have been dedicated to the empowerment and education of young women. Under the direction of Mother St. John Fontbonne, seven Sisters journeyed from France to America in 1836 to work with deaf children in St. Louis at the invitation of the Bishop of that city. From there, new Congregations of St. Joseph spread rapidly throughout the United States and Canada. The Sisters arrived in Cleveland in 1872. At one point, there were three schools founded by the Sisters in this area - Saint Joseph Academy in Cleveland, Saint Therese Academy in Lakewood and Nazareth Academy in Parma Heights.

After Saint Therese and Nazareth closed (1949 and 1978, respectively), their alumnae have been welcomed by Saint Joseph Academy. 

Saint Joseph Academy

Saint Joseph Academy was established in 1890 by the Congregation of St. Joseph on Starkweather Avenue on the then-western outskirts of the city of Cleveland. The purpose of the Academy was to promote education, science and art, as well as preparing students for the challenges of the approaching 20th century.

In less than a decade, the Sisters started looking for a larger site to accommodate the school’s growth. In 1898, Saint Joseph Academy was moved to its current site on Rocky River Drive, which at the time was a beautiful parcel of farmland in the relatively undeveloped area of the city on the edge of what would become the Rocky River Metroparks Reservation. Classes were held in the Motherhouse until the current Academy building was completed in 1928. In those first years, the Academy was an elementary and high school, as well as being co-ed. It became an all-girls high school in the mid-1930s. Currently, it is the only all-girls Catholic high school in the city of Cleveland. 

A major addition to the building, The Academy Center gymnasium and fitness room, opened in 1996. The Rawlings Track and Field addition in 2002 allowed the Athletic Department to expand its soccer, rugby and track programs. Students now enjoy a state-of-the-art dining hall, The Scholars’ Porch and Howley Terrace and rain garden, which were dedicated in 2012 and now provide unique indoor and outdoor areas for classroom studies, companionship and reflection. In the summer of 2013, the second phase of construction was completed as the school upgraded its electrical and heating systems, removing all the radiators and purchasing and installing a boiler in the building.

In 2015, Saint Joseph Academy is a thriving institution, embodying the faith-filled, compassionate mission of the Sisters. It is enjoying a capacity enrollment of more than 700 students, and it has 100 faculty and staff members.

Nazareth Academy

Nazareth Academy was established in 1956. The next year, in September of 1957, the school saw the arrival of the first class of young women at the campus in Parma Heights. Although Nazareth would remain open only until 1980, it continues to hold a special place in the hearts of its graduates. Principals who served at Nazareth were Sister Patricia O'Donnell, Sister Mary Sheila Sweeney, Sister Clare Carney, Sister Marguerite Hastings and Sister Dorothy Sadowski.

In addition, many dedicated and hardworking Nazareth graduates carry on the tradition of their Alma Mater by their active participation in the Alumnae Association at Saint Joseph Academy. They are to be commended for their efforts on behalf of the young women currently enrolled at Saint Joseph Academy, many of whom are daughters and granddaughters.

Saint Therese Academy

Saint Therese Academy was originally chartered as the "Saint Joseph Academy Extension Lakewood.” In 1925, the name was changed to the "Academy of the Little Flower,” and in 1928, the name was changed again to "Saint Therese Academy.” In 1949, the school graduated its last class. Saint Edward High School briefly owned the building at 14205 Detroit Avenue that housed Saint Therese Academy. Eventually the property was sold, and the building was torn down. A National City Bank now stands at that site.

The principals of Saint Therese Academy were Sister Mary Berchmans Mulligan, Sister Leonard Gibbons, Sister Mechtildas Schnauz, and Sister Mary Ambrose Maggini. There are a dedicated group of graduates who still faithfully attend the annual Saint Therese Luncheon and Mass and support many other alumnae events. Their legacy lives on in their granddaughters and grand nieces who now attend Saint Joseph Academy. 

Contact Us

Alumnae Director
Ms. Allison Busser ’04
216.251.6788 x221
abusser@sja1890.org

Alumnae and Special Events Coordinator
Ms. Betty Hjort
216.251.6788 x245