After 30 Years in Girls Education, Head of School Mary Sciarrillo Retires

By Grace Child, Asst. News Editor, and Kate Hegel, Asst. Sports Editor

At the end of this school year, on June 30, current Head of School Mary Sciarrillo will retire from her position of eight years and be succeeded by incoming Head of School Mary Kate Blaine. The community celebrated Sciarrillo’s dedication and contributions to Trinity Hall with a Mass Celebrating a Legacy of Service and community party on the students’ last day of school, June 11.

The community honored retiring Head of School Mary Sciarrillo with an honor guard following the Mass Celebrating a Legacy of Service on the last day of school, June 11. (Photo courtesy of Lynn Retterer)

Sciarrillo began her journey in all-girls education in 1994 when she was appointed Dean of Students of the Upper School at Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, New Jersey. In 2003, Sciarrillo was promoted to principal of the Upper School and served faithfully until 2013, when she assumed the Head of School position at the newly-founded Trinity Hall.

Spanish teacher Melissa Fairchild worked alongside Sciarrillo at Oak Knoll School and through her transition from Oak Knoll to Trinity Hall. Fairchild is appreciative of the lifelong bonds she has made with Sciarrillo and the time they have shared together educating young women.

“I didn’t realize how fast the past 15 to 18 years have gone with Mrs. Sciarrillo…and I appreciate the fact that I’ve kind of grown up with her,” Fairchild said. “I love that she knew me as a fairly new teacher. She knew me single, she knew me married, she knew me when I had my first kid, she’s seen me teach every single level…And I love that all of my memories are kind of with one person…it’s like your own family.”

In her first years at Trinity Hall, Sciarrillo, alongside founding faculty members, led a class of 30 students through an innovative curriculum catered to an all-girls learning environment. She formed a community based on the values of faith, respect and sisterhood, which she would continue to build as the Trinity Hall community grew. 

Mary Sciarrillo (center) gathers with members of Trinity Hall’s inaugural Class of 2017 to discuss the school’s core values during the opening weeks of school. (Photo courtesy of Trinity Hall Archives)

Entering its third year, Trinity Hall moved from its original home at Croydon Hall in Leonardo to its current location at Fort Monmouth in Tinton Falls. As the size of the Trinity Hall community grew, both in population and available learning space, Sciarrillo continued to mentor students and faculty alike, placing emphasis on interdisciplinary and hands-on learning experiences.

Sciarrillo has played a major role in making Trinity Hall a well-respected and highly regarded school. She led efforts that allowed Trinity Hall to become a part of NJAIS (The New Jersey Association of Independent Schools), a non-profit organization whose mission is to recognize independent schools in New Jersey that uphold a standard of excellence in academics. 

She also helped the school gain entrance into the Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS), the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and One Schoolhouse, all organizations that strive for excellence, innovation and improvement. These recognitions establish Trinity Hall as a highly-regarded independent school.

One of Sciarrillo’s greatest accomplishments for Trinity Hall was the role she played in helping the school earn the MSA-CESS Program of Distinction in STEM. This accomplishment made Trinity Hall the first school in New Jersey and the only all-girls school to achieve such recognition. She followed that up with another major achievement: Trinity Hall’s acceptance into the prestigious Cum Laude Society.

Mary Sciarrillo showed her sense of humor by participating in the light-hearted school events and traditions, such as the annual holiday Ugly Sweater Contest in 2019 where she won for the faculty category. (Photo courtesy of Trinity Hall Archives)

To lead a young school to such success does not come without its challenges, and Director of Advancement and Admissions Theresa Kiernan, a member of the founding faculty, appreciates Sciarrillo’s ability to overcome these obstacles with positivity and a smile.

“Aside from her work ethic, the quality I admire most about Mrs. Sciarrillo is her sense of humor,” Kiernan said. “She knows when levity is appropriate and needed in tough situations, and she always laughs with you rather than at you. Her humor is both smart and sensitive.”

Sciarrillo leaves Trinity Hall having instilled within her students the skills they need to find success in their futures. Senior Charlotte Walsh, student body president, feels empowered by Sciarrillo’s leadership methods and is working on applying it to her own life.

“Mrs. Sciarrillo’s leadership style is very direct and transparent, and I feel like as student body president she’s definitely had an influence on the way that I lead,” Walsh said. “[She] taught me how to persuade respectfully and ask for what we want directly…so that the receiving party looks at your argument with an open mind and doesn’t shut it down right away. That’s been helpful in pushing an agenda and getting things done.”

Even in her retirement, Sciarrillo will continue to support the school and leave behind a lasting legacy. Mary’s Fund for the Girls: Now and Forever will raise money for financial aid and endowment funds so that the school can continue on its path of success.

During her eight-year tenure as Trinity Hall’s head of school, Mary Sciarrillo fulfilled many roles, including health teacher with school nurse Susan Almeida, where she helped students prepare nutritious food for the whole community to enjoy. (Photo courtesy of Trinity Hall Archives)

“Mrs. Sciarrillo has given her all to Trinity Hall. Her work ethic and commitment to the mission and vision of the school have been so inspiring to me as I have worked with her these many years,” Kiernan said. “She has been a leader, a friend, a role model and always a guiding light for the school. With the amount of love and dedication she has given – and has inspired in all of us – there is no way Trinity Hall could be anything but successful in the future.”

The Trinity Hall community will be forever grateful for the work Mary Sciarrillo has done to ensure young women bright, empowering and successful futures. We wish her all the best in her retirement and the exciting journey that lies ahead.

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