Kathryn Purcell is not only a lifelong educator and leader, she’s also a self-proclaimed “girls’ school advocate.” She’s seen firsthand how this type of education can help young women grow as individuals and members of a community – and she’s experienced the outcomes from many perspectives: as a student and parent, as well as a teacher and administrator. “For me, attending an all-girls’ high school was a transformative educational experience. I was challenged academically and personally, yet my teachers were always there to cheer me on. All-girls’ schools share ideals and values that truly set them apart.”
Mrs. Purcell’s point-of-view is influenced heavily by her 24-year tenure at Laurel School, where she dedicated her career to the advancement of all-girls’ education, seeking out leadership roles that positioned her to make the most difference.
She began her career as a science teacher and volleyball coach, leading young women both in and out of the classroom. She quickly moved into administrative roles at the school, serving as Dean of Students, Co-Director of the Upper School and eventually becoming the Associate Head of School. It was in this role that Purcell was instrumental in both the school’s daily operations and the long-term strategic vision. Her input and leadership helped with the creation, communication and execution of Laurel’s five-year roadmap.
As a member of the school’s Finance Committee and Senior Strategy team, she also directly impacted the business side of the school, from attracting students to assuring financial stewardship. At Laurel, Purcell worked with senior leaders who viewed themselves as educators before anything else. This mentoring influences her today and helps her strike the critical balance needed as Saint Joseph Academy’s president: to be an educational advocate as well as an administrative leader; to collaborate with faculty and staff while making decisions that are critical to the future.
As Mrs. Purcell ushers Saint Joseph Academy into its next chapter, it’s these qualities that will help her stand apart as a leader. Yet, as a Saint Joseph Academy Jaguar, she sees one other quality that will help differentiate her: “I love being in schools; I love the atmosphere and the laughter. I’m also quite loud at sporting events. I definitely stand out in my enthusiasm.”
Mrs. Purcell holds a master of arts in education from Ursuline College and a bachelor degree from John Carroll University. She and her husband are the proud parents of four children. They are parishioners at the Church of the Gesu.