School History and Governance
Founded and operated by the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy, Our Lady of Mercy Academy (OLMA) opened in September 1962 to 52 young women, embodying the first freshman and sophomore classes. The school’s first principal was Sister M. Dolores, and Sisters Gertrude, Dominica, and Matthew Marie were the school’s first teachers. The OLMA crest contains the school motto: “Knowledge and Truth.” The lamp symbolizes knowledge and the globe represents universal truth. The “M” represents the Blessed Mother. A cross, symbolizing Christian education, and the book of life are also present in the crest. The school’s colors are green and gold. Green stands for hope, new growth, and enthusiasm, and gold stands for victory, success, and becoming the best person possible.
In the spring of 1965, 23 young women departed OLMA as its first graduates. In June 1967, the ground was broken for the construction of a new field house. The building was named Carew Hall in honor of Mother Bridget Carew, one of the sisters who helped establish Our Lady of Mercy Academy. The next year, Carew Hall was used in the graduation ceremony of the Class of 1968. Over the years, OLMA has expanded and enhanced its academic curriculum, athletics program, facilities, and more to meet the changing needs of our students.
HEAD OF SCHOOL
BROOKE A. COYLE
In 2016, Mrs. Brooke A. Coyle became the Academy’s Head of School — the first layperson to hold this position. As a teacher, coach, and adviser, Mrs. Coyle has dedicated her professional life to mentoring and enriching students through faith-based academics. Using her passion for educational excellence, coupled with her extensive experience, Mrs. Coyle is leading OLMA into a new era of excellence for the young women of South Jersey.
Since joining OLMA, Mrs. Coyle has significantly upgraded the school’s curriculum to include additional Honors and Advanced Placement courses, as well as a one-of-a-kind empowerment and leadership programming for girls. It's designed to foster the core competencies for girls that today’s world expects from its leaders. This type of programming, combined with the unique environment offered at OLMA results in graduates who are informed, self-confident, service-oriented, resilient, and prepared with the competence and knowledge necessary to lead and succeed.
Under her leadership, the school has significantly upgraded its facilities and learning tools. Mrs. Coyle introduced a signature program called the Mini-Mester program. These week-long courses represent experiential learning at its best. They give students the opportunity to delve deeper into subject areas that intrigue and interest them. Along the way, students learn a variety of life lessons including managing their money, navigating tours, and hikes. thinking on their feet, handling cultural and language differences, solving problems, following directions, being independent and on time, as well as how to push themselves further than they ever thought they could. Since joining OLMA the school’s enrollment has doubled in size.
Prior to joining OLMA, Mrs. Coyle worked for 19 years at St. Augustine Prep — first as a member of the math department and then as the school’s Director of College Guidance and member of the Prep Administrative team. Mrs. Coyle also taught Mathematics, Religion, and Reading at St. Peter’s School in Merchantville, NJ. She is a graduate of Rowan University, holds a Certificate in School Leadership and her Master’s in Educational Leadership from Wilmington University. Mrs. Coyle resides in Vineland with her husband and two children and is a parishioner of St. Padre Pio Parish.
The five-member Board of Trustees is guided by an Advisory Board comprised of outside experts in the fields of education, community service, government relations, finance, youth leadership, technology, construction, facilities management, marketing, and social services. The Advisory Board participates in the policy-making process by formulating, reviewing, and recommending policies for consideration by the Board of Trustees.
Advisory Board members include:
- Kenneth Figgs, Board President and former Manager of Administrative Training Programs, NJ State Department of Education (retired)
- Dana Catalana, MSW, LCSW, Board Secretary, OLMA Alumna, and Alumnae Parent
- Dr. Piera Gravenor, Alumna Parent and Superintendent Delsea Regional School District & Elk Township School District
- Tina Ritondaro, Director of HCMS Solutions, NFI
- Dave P. Schad, CPA
- Deborah Wallace, Wallace Supply Company
- Margaret Durham, Facilities Manager, Delsea Regional School District
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The Board of Trustees, the Provincial Council of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy, is the governing body responsible for Our Lady of Mercy Academy.
- Sister M. Ambrogina Aldeni, Provincial
- Sister Margaret M. Curcio, Vicar Provincial
- Sister Eileen Marie McGowan, Councilor
- Sister M. Damian Aussi, Councilor
- Sister M. Judith Tarozzi, Councilor
About Our Foundress
Benedetta, better known as Saint Mary Joseph Rossello, is the foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy. She was born on May 27, 1811 to a ceramics craftsman and his wife. As a child she assisted her father in his workshop and helped her mother bake bread for the poor. Her favorite game was “school” and she taught the neighborhood children religion on the back steps of her house. She enjoyed taking her “students” on “field trips” to the chapel in Abisola to pray and sing to Mary, the Mother of Mercy.
As Benedetta became a young adult, she visited the chapel every day, seeking spiritual direction and praying: “I have only one wish, to become a saint: help the poor, and avoid sin because it offends the Lord.” On August 10, 1837, the feast day of Saint Lawrence, Benedetta started the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy. With four young women she moved into an old house called The Commenda. On October 22, 1837, the bishop came to the house to preside over a blessing ceremony. It was then that Benedetta changed her name to Sister Mary Joseph Rossello.