From the Headmaster

Greetings from St. Charles, Missouri...

Alfred F. Dugan III


Dear Princeton Academy Community,

As I write, I gaze upon the majestic Missouri River. Mesmerized by the timeless flow of tranquil water, I am transported back to the time of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne. The sublime still life of autumn leaves reflecting off the surface of the water appears like the same artistry that would have surrounded Philippine 200 years ago when she arrived on these shores and opened her heart to found Sacred Heart education in America. 

Greetings from St. Charles, Missouri where I have been welcomed home to the land of Philippine to gather with other Network heads of school and trustees with a focus on the formation of character and conscience at the Annual Autumn Meeting of Sacred Heart Schools. The crossroads of time reveal themselves as I traverse the banks of this mighty river where our indigenous ancestors lived originally and peacefully with the earth; where, in 1804, upon orders from President Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark launched their expedition up the Missouri; and where, in 1818, Philippine founded the Academy of the Sacred Heart, whose campus I see now and whose mission today is to inspire the heart and mind of each child. As we near the end of the Bicentennial, I hope that we have all come to appreciate with reverence the profundity of Philippine’s pioneer journey. The seeds of Sacred Heart education that she planted by the Missouri River have grown strong with deep root systems that enable the spiritual growth of our children while revealing the love of God in the world. Just as Philippine’s charism enabled her to navigate according to her mission, so does Sacred Heart education contribute to the formation of our character so that we can navigate today’s complex world. I am supremely confident imagining that today’s Sacred Heart students will be tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers.

Spirit. In and of itself the word is poetry. The Latin root “spir” means “breathe.” “Ruah”, the Hebrew word for spirit, means “wind.” Essential and everlasting, spirit is energy that breathes life into the present, light that shines within a self, essence that animates a soul for eternity, all the while existing at the core of inspiration and aspiration. If we listen with our hearts, we will hear the spirit of God whispering in the wind. 

From St. Charles I fly back up to the northeast and travel directly to Tarrytown, NY, where I am honored to represent Princeton Academy at the Collaborative for Spirituality in Education Heads of School Meeting. Princeton Academy is proud to be a part of this collaborative, which “is committed to the idea that all schools - public, private, religious, charter - can and should support the healthy spiritual and moral growth of children and adolescents.” As Dr. Lisa Miller shares with us through her book The Spiritual Child, “there is mounting empirical evidence that nurturing the spirituality of children supports their health and happiness and helps them be more engaged higher achievers and better citizens.” From a walk in the woods to contemplative prayer, nurturing spirituality can happen in a multitude of ways, gracefully. Nurturing the spiritual lives of our children could be the single most important thing we do to contribute to their healthy development.

Philippine once said, “Do not look back to the past, nor forward to the future. Claim only the present, for it holds God’s will.” The river of life flows ceaselessly into tomorrow, holding the endless stories of yesterday, full of joy and full of sorrow… But it flows with hope. Therefore, let us cultivate this present moment and the spirit held within so that we may build peace, together.

To learn more about Sacred Heart Education, please click here.

To learn more about The Spiritual Child by Dr. Lisa Miller, PhD, please click here.



  • sacred heart
  • Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne
  • spirituality

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