Our Villa Family Shares Their Story
“My time at Villa set a foundation for me for a life of service.”
– Lieutenant Amber Lubker ’06, volunteer firefighter, missionary, and pre-school teacher
“Lower Villa was a truly formative experience for me. It shaped the person that I am today: brave enough to travel across the world and flexible enough to adjust to the new normal.”
– Madeline Gilbertson ’13
“I feel incredibly blessed that I had the opportunity to attend lower Villa when I was a young girl. The educational and spiritual foundation that I gained was essential in establishing the person that I am today.”
– Rebecca Geffner ‘94
“My experience at Villa has impacted my life by giving me the skills it takes to succeed as a professional, by instilling in me the value of treating others with respect and kindness, and by imparting in me the confidence to explore the world around me. “
– Priti Bhatnagr ‘99
“I look back at where I’ve come from, and the education I had from Villa is a defining point of the woman I am today. Being in an all-girls environment at such a critical time in my life taught me how capable and strong women can be. I truly believe the values I learned at Villa of determination, compassion, and knowledge are what inspired me to go into my current field of structural engineering. The experiences I had at Villa taught me to be confident in my abilities, even in a field that is traditionally so male dominated. I am incredibly grateful for the exposure Villa gave me to so many different career paths, and for the experiences that shaped me at such a formative time in my childhood.”
– Maria Dulin ’12
“We could not be more grateful and appreciative of the love and support the entire Villa family showed our 3 girls during their 9 years there! They are developing into amazing young women with core values centered around Jesus and respect for others. We have always said that best way to spend your kid’s college education money is to invest it early at a school like Villa Maria! The dividends are phenomenal and the return on the investment lasts a lifetime! Villa teachers truly care and love the art of teaching so kids can learn to love learning and they are making a huge impact on society and the Christian home. The reinforcement of core family values centered on Christ is what separates Villa from the rest of the education system… We miss our Villa community but have no doubt the core values of Love, Creative Hope and Fidelity will carefully guide them the rest of their lives!”
– John O’Brien, P ’13, ’15, ’16
“When I attended Villa Maria Academy Lower School the IHM Charism took hold of me – Love, Creative Hope and Fidelity. I experienced a love that continues to manifest itself each day. It instilled in me a joyful service to God and his people. I was inspired by the Sisters’ commitment to their vocation in Christ and zeal for their mission in the Church. By that inspiration, I was led into Catholic Education with a charism that I have carried with me through my life and career.
I strive to be a role model for students, teachers, and administrators. I do this with reverence, respect, compassion, honesty, integrity, responsibility, cooperation, self-discipline and perseverance – all traits that I learned at an early age at Villa Maria Academy Lower School.”
– Bernadette Dougherty ’74, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary School for the Office of Catholic Education, former VMALS Advisory Board President
“I attended Lower Villa from third through eighth grade. These were happy years filled with cherished memories – among them, getting to play Joseph in the drama club’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, participating in the Art After School program, Mission Day, and May Procession. I had incredible teachers who nurtured my talents, and I forged lifelong friendships. Along with my parents, Villa provided me with a foundation that would allow me to navigate life effectively. As an adult, I can now fully appreciate my years at Villa and what they meant for me. In addition to a top-notch education, Villa instilled invaluable principles such as compassion and kindness, respecting others, confidence, showing gratitude, and having a positive attitude. But most importantly, it’s where I learned about faith—faith in myself and trust in God and His plan for me.”
-Kim Spada ’94
Kim wrote an article in this spring’s alumnae magazine, Villa Connections, about her search for a living kidney donor. Read her article about her “Faith over Fear” by clicking here. It can be found on page 4.
“Lower Villa has served as a strong foundation and springboard for high school, college, and beyond. Lower Villa has allowed our girls to grow in leadership and service while becoming confident, well-educated, young women. The teachers and faculty at Lower Villa set expectations for both academic excellence and genuine kindness between the students. Villa Maria’s all-girl, tight-knit community allowed our girls to spend their formative years feeling safe to explore their interests, leadership roles, and spirituality.”
– The Heppelmann family ’15, ’17, ‘18
“When we first entered the doors of Villa Maria Academy with our triplet daughters, who were babies at the time, we knew instantly Villa was a special place. While we were impressed with the IHM Sisters’ charism, their commitment to educating young girls and the dedication of Villa’s teachers, what fascinated us the most was the self-confidence exhibited by the middle school students and how well they communicated with each other, their teachers and other adults. On our first visit, we were confident Villa would provide our girls with the best Catholic all-girls’ education in the region! What we didn’t realize was what a truly special place Villa is or the impact the school and community would have on our lives and family!
As a family, we enjoyed getting involved in the school and participating in all Villa has to offer to its students and their families. We made countless memories at Villa’s Family Bingo, Family Mass and Picnic, Ice Skating Night, and so many other special events. And, at Villa, we were blessed to develop unexpected friendships and make lifelong friends. During their nine years at Villa, our daughters grew from three curious kindergartners to independent, confident, compassionate, young women, each with their own talents, unique goals and a passion to live life to the fullest. We credit Villa’s incredibly dedicated IHM Sisters and teachers for the amazing young women our girls have become. The Sisters and teachers instilled in our daughters a love of learning and a strong work ethic. They inspired our daughters to pursue their dreams and a desire to help those less fortunate through volunteer service; and they fostered a sense of independence and individuality in each one.
Villa Maria Academy is so much more than just a school! It’s a special place…it’s a community filled with love, support, and an array of opportunities for young girls to grow and develop academically, emotionally and socially. At Villa, girls learn to respect themselves and each other; and they learn the importance of family values and making good choices. We love Villa for all it offered our daughters – a fabulous education, teaching of the Catholic faith, dedicated IHM Sisters, exceptional teachers who adore and care about their students, and a warm, loving and safe environment. For our family, Villa is an exceptional place, a place that challenged our girls to become the best they can be, a place that empowered our girls to realize their greatest potential in life, a place they love and will always refer to as their second home.”
– Christopher and Maria Kelly, P, ’18
“We choose Villa based on much more than just academics, although we were seriously impressed with the curriculum and standards at Villa. What we were searching for was a community that we could raise our family in. What we found was a welcoming place where we were treated like family by everyone. We felt that we were choosing not only their educational future but the type of people we want them to grow up to be. Leaders, hard workers, kind hearted and full of faith. The experiences at Villa include worship and service and an understanding of sacrifice and love. These characteristics are just as important as math and reading and are valued by all in the VMA community. We would make this decision over and over again.”
-Mike and Marissa Garner, P, ’22 and ’24
“We came to Villa when our oldest daughter, Alexandra, was entering fourth grade and our youngest daughter, Kennedy, was entering kindergarten. Our local parish school was struggling in a number of ways that were beginning to negatively impact Alex and her two brothers. We had heard many great things about Villa from a few of our friends who had daughters either attending at that time or who had attended Villa, so it was high on our list of potential schools. In this next step for our girls, we wanted a school that was rich with Catholic traditions and teachings, strong in academics, and after some important research, all girls. We attended the Villa Open House and were very impressed with Sister Susan and the other IHM sisters. We were equally impressed with the academic program and the teachers. What we ended up being most impressed with was the girls. They were young women who were confident, articulate, well mannered, and genuinely likeable. We could tell this wasn’t staged, either. This was truly who the Villa students were. What we have come to learn about Villa in our five years of being part of the school is that the school is so much more. It’s a family. It’s a place where our girls are thriving. They are deepening their faith and being challenged to live a Catholic life with a strong moral compass. They are being taught to care for others before themselves. They are being educated at a high level from loving and dedicated teachers that care so much about each of our girls. Most importantly, they are happy. They are genuinely happy with who they are and love going to school each day. This has allowed Alex and Kennedy to grow a deeper understanding of themselves which shows in their confidence level and their willingness to take on new challenges. Alex just graduated from Villa and is well prepared for high school—academically, socially and personally. Kennedy is entering fifth grade and is ready to take on the new challenges coming her way. From our hearts, Villa is a wonderful place that will help you to raise your daughter as a confident, intellectually curious, and morally prepared young women. In this world in which our daughters are all being challenged each day in many not so wonderful ways, we all need a place like Villa for our girls.”
-Kathleen and Michael Harrington, P, ’18 and ’22
Lauren | Class of 2013
How Villa has changed her life.
Alayna | Class of 2012
What the sisterhood at Villa means to her.
Devi | Class of 2012
How the all-girl environment empowered her.