A Tradition of Excellence in Catholic Education
St. Michael School was organized in the 1870’s, 19 years after the founding of the parish. In 1908, the Sisters of Notre Dame were asked to staff the school.
In 1997, to accommodate growing enrollment, St. Michael School and St. Basil the Great Parish developed a partnership that allows our younger students to be taught at the Education Center at St. Basil in Brecksville. This Early Childhood Learning Center is now home to the St. Michael Preschool, Jr. Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and First Grade.
St. Michael School draws children from the Independence, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, and Seven Hills-Parma school districts, as well as other neighboring communities. Busing arrangements with most districts make it possible for children to attend St. Michael School.
“Catholic education allows our children to be immersed in a learning atmosphere filled with God’s presence. That presence is a constant encouragement to students to develop their talents and skills for the glory of God and the service of others. We are thankful for the wonderful faculty and staff at St. Michael School for preparing our children academically and for preparing their hearts to be true witnesses of our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
- A St. Michael School Parent of two children
Background on Sisters of Notre Dame
The Sisters of Notre Dame (SND) of Chardon, Ohio are members of an international congregation that began in Coesfeld, Germany in 1850. In July of 1874, eight sisters arrived in Cleveland, including the foundress, Sister Maria Aloysia (Hilligonde Wolbring). Over the next four years, two hundred Sisters of Notre Dame came to the United States to teach children of immigrants, mainly across northern Ohio and in the Covington-Cincinnati area. The province center, initially located at 18th and Superior Avenue in Cleveland, moved in 1915 to Ansel Road and then in 1960 to its present location on Auburn Road in Chardon, Ohio.
Since the beginning of our congregation, education has been the Sisters of Notre Dame’s primary ministry. Their first Coesfeld sisters were themselves professional educators and began a teacher training institute as one of the original works of the congregation in 1850.
For over 100 years, they have contributed to the growth of the flourishing system of Catholic schools in Northeast Ohio, collaborating with outstanding lay women and men in staffing parish to offer a variety of educational services to children, and young and adult learners. Today, they serve thousands of students in the Greater Cleveland area through SND sponsored institutions. These institutions reflect their charism and spirit, as they continue in relationship to promote the mission of Jesus, build community and encourage the application of their educational principles.
They are grounded in the centrality of a good and provident God, the human dignity of each person as an image of God, the Notre Dame educator as Gospel witness, and an integrated education for transformation.
Their current sponsored institutions and educational ministries include Notre Dame College – South Euclid, Ohio; Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School – Chardon, Ohio; Notre Dame Elementary School – Chardon, Ohio; and Julie Billiart Schools – Lyndhurst, Ohio and Akron, Ohio.
Sisters of Notre Dame & St. Michael School
For more than 80 years of St. Michael School’s history, the Sisters of Notre Dame devoted themselves to the education of the children of this parish. Answering Father Aust’s call for teachers to staff the school, two Notre Dame sisters came in 1908, only to be called back to teach an overcrowded Cleveland school a decade later. It wouldn't be until 1920 that they returned to St. Michael School in Independence, commuting back and forth to their convent in Cleveland, being driven by Joe Gaab, who was the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Wes Gaab’s grandfather. Wes remembers his family expressing concern about Joe’s age (70s) and his driving and Joe said, “I don’t worry. I have three rosaries ‘spinning’ while I’m going and coming!”
The first two sisters were Sister Mary Ernfred and Sister Mary Juliette, who became principal in 1926. By 1934, the old frame house that had served as a rectory was rebuilt to become the parish convent, the sisters' new home.
Many advancements took place in the school under the direction of the Sisters. Some of these included the introduction of computers and technology, hot lunch, the modular unit, Advisory Board, and communications committee. In the early 1990s, there were further milestones as the school became a viable entity in the 21st century and the enrollment climbed to 420 students, 265 families in 14 communities. Over the next decade, our youngest learners moved to the St. Basil Education Center, the first-grade Smiles program began, and playground equipment was installed. Spanish classes were introduced in 1999 for seventh and eighth graders, a new science lab was built, the library became automated, and the school building was wired for internet and cable. The Drama Club began in 2000, and initial steps were also taken for the beginnings of a preschool program in 2000-2001.
In 2007, the school applied for and received State validation as well as the Blue Ribbon Award by the U.S. Department of Education. Today, the current faculty and staff continue to build on the foundations laid by the Sisters of Notre Dame by nurturing success in learning, technology, and most important in preparing faith-filled leaders for tomorrow.