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.