Maryville announces 140th anniversary dinner on April 11

Maryville Academy is preparing to celebrate its 140th anniversary with a special fundraising dinner at SKY on NINE, 6600 Mannheim Road in Rosemont on Thursday, April 11.

A reception will start at 5:30 p.m. and followed by a dinner and program at 6:00 p.m. Additionally, an online auction is scheduled on April 1 to April 11.

Yolande Wilson-Stubbs, president and chief post-acute care officer at Ascension, and New Beginnings; John J. George, legal counsel; and Sisters of the Resurrection will be honored during the special evening celebration.

“The special evening will give us a chance to thank our many supporters who have committed to Maryville’s mission for so many years,” said Sister Catherine M. Ryan, O.S.F., Maryville executive director. “We look forward to honoring our generous friends for our children and families and welcoming our esteemed guests on April 11.”

Tickets to the event can be purchased at

Maryville was officially dedicated as Saint Mary’s Training School on July 1,1883. It was established as an orphanage by Archbishop Patrick A. Feehan in the 880-acre Knott Farm located north of Des Plaines. The orphanage welcomed neglected boys to live, learn a trade and obtain their education. Its population increased in 1911 with the coming of the girls from three Chicago all-girl institutions.

A name change happened in 1950 when the school children selected Maryville Academy as its new name.

Maryville has always made its mission to meet the ever-changing needs of children. Its priority since 1883 has always been protecting children and strengthening families through all the challenges of epidemics, pandemics, recessions, just to name a few. 

Today Maryville is home to 18 programs in four service areas: family, residential, healthcare and educational in Bartlett, Berwyn, Chicago, Des Plaines and Niles. It has served close to 11,000 children and adults, and more than 1,200 families in the last four fiscal years.

Sister Cathy and Ann Craig are shown holding the plaques that Maryville and Walsh Academy received from CISCO. With the Maryville team is the team from Wight Construction.

Walsh Academy receives CISCO award

The Construction Industry Service Corporation honored Walsh Academy and Maryville with a special mention award during its annual meeting at the Westin Hotel in Lombard last Friday, January 19.

The award is part of CISCO’s annual Pride in Construction Award program. Walsh Academy and Maryville’s recognition is only the second time that CISCO used its discretionary authority and awarded the special mention honor.

“I could not believe all that you are doing in this old facility. I could not believe the joy in this building,” CISCO Executive Director Dan Allen shared his impression of Jen School with the meeting attendees after he was given a tour by Sister Cathy and Ann Craig.

“I am so glad I made that visit,” Allen said. “Meeting with you and the team there was just a huge blessing in my life.”

Ann, in accepting the award, thanked everyone involved in making the Walsh Academy dream become a reality.

“Thank you for taking that leap of faith and believing in this vision and believing in our students for giving them this opportunity to have this school where they can come and have a safe and secure learning environment and learn about the trades,” she said.

Ann added that Walsh Academy will help students “figure out what their passion is in the future and have a successful life and become what they want to be and reach their potential.”

To help us with our beautiful ministry of protecting children and strengthening families this Christmas, please click on the donate button below. With gratitude, our Maryville staff, children and families THANK YOU.

Maryville Board Chair, Dick Devine, left to right, is joined by Principal Ann Craig, Maryville Board Member Mike Munro, Katie and Janie Walsh, Charlie Walsh, Maryville Board Member George Rourke, and Maryville Board Vice Chair Sean Madden during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Walsh Academy.

Walsh Academy ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Monday, December 18

NILES, IL – The Charles H. Walsh Sr. Academy & Career Tech High School (Walsh Academy for short), formerly Jen School located in Des Plaines, will officially celebrate its move to Niles with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, December 18 at 12:00 p.m.

The Walsh Academy is the first of its kind to open a career and technology education program designed for diverse learners in Illinois and possibly the country. It offers students, ages 14-22, a curriculum that combines academic courses and emotional learning with enhanced CTE programs. The goal is to prepare students to enter high-demand trades or be college-ready.

The new school at 6935 West Touhy Avenue in Niles offers 56,000 sq. feet of learning space, almost double the size of the former school in Des Plaines. The expanded space will have 12 academic and eight vocational classrooms, including a state-of-the art culinary lab, an in-house media studio, a tech lab, spaces for carpentry, construction, HVAC and small engines as well as a new garden and a greenhouse.

Walsh Academy offers CTE classes in carpentry and woodworking; culinary arts and agriculture; HVAC; health science; computer tech, podcast and video production; and information technology and 3-D printing.

Ann Craig, principal and director of educational services at Maryville, said that the staff and administration are excited to be in a new space where they can create more opportunities for the students while helping them reach their fullest potential. 

“Numerous people have worked behind the scenes, working hard to get our new location ready for our students and faculty. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed nor unappreciated,” Craig said. 

Monday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled to start with a short program at the Walsh Academy gymnasium that will include a blessing by Bishop Mark Bartosic. Niles Mayor George D. Alpogianis will be speaking.

Walsh Academy broke ground at the former Niles School District 71 facility on November 9, 2022, and classes commenced at the new location after the Thanksgiving break. 

The school is named after the late Charles H. Walsh Sr., an alum of Maryville Academy who served as chairman on the Maryville Board of Directors for several years. 

Chuck lived in three different orphanages with Maryville as his last one. Through the many different vocational skills that he learned while at Maryville, Chuck went on to become a very successful businessman and part owner of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls. 

For more information on Walsh Academy, visit

Maryville participates in annual Giving Tuesday

Maryville Academy is participating in the annual Giving Tuesday again this year.

Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement that was created in 2012 to encourage people to do good. Over the past years, this idea has grown into a year-round global movement that inspires millions of people to give and celebrate generosity.

Although the celebration will happen on Tuesday, November 28, Maryville is very excited to share that you can start donating to our programs now until November 30.

Maryville has been transforming the lives of children and families since 1883 and it would not be able to do that without the generosity of its donors and supporters.

To donate, please click here.

Yass Prize selects Walsh Academy as 1 of 64 quarterfinalists, the only special ed school in Illinois to qualify to the next round Oct. 9

Principal Ann Craig proudly holds the quarterfinalist sign outside Walsh Academy in Niles

The Charles H. Walsh Sr. Academy & Career Tech High School or Walsh Academy, formerly Maryville Jen School in Des Plaines, IL., wins a coveted spot among 64 quarterfinalists in an announcement made by the prestigious Yass Prize & STOP Award Initiative on September 14.

Walsh Academy was selected from nearly 2,000 applications that represented 27 million students from every sector of education and every grade across all 50 states. It is the only non-public special education school in Illinois that was selected to move on to the next round of the competition when 32 semifinalists will be announced at the Yass Summit and Semifinalist Announcement in Cleveland, Ohio on October 9.

“All of us at Walsh Academy are truly honored and immensely humbled to be counted among the 64 distinguished and impressive cohort of exceptional educators,” said Ann Craig, Walsh Academy principal and director of educational services at Maryville.

“This marks an important milestone in our school’s history and reflects our commitment to providing quality education to our students to help them have a successful future,” said Craig.

The YASS Prize & STOP Award Initiative began in 2021 and aims to identify and support best-in-class education providers such as Walsh Academy that can tackle the challenges of the day and deliver an education that students deserve.

Craig expressed her excitement when she received the news as she, her staff and students are preparing to relocate the school in Des Plaines to its new location in Niles, IL.

“The decision to move to a new site was carefully considered to ensure that the school could meet the growing needs of our students,” she said. “The new campus will feature 12 state-of-the-art academic classrooms and eight dedicated career technical education classrooms.”

The expansion of Maryville Jen School to Walsh Academy in Niles, according to Craig, will enable students to access the latest educational tools and prepare them to be college-ready or to enter high-demand trades. Before the expansion, the school had eight academic and two CTE classrooms.

“I feel incredibly honored and grateful for this opportunity, as it shines a spotlight on the talented students and faculty of Maryville Jen School, now known as Walsh Academy.,” said Craig. “This is an exciting phase for our school as we transition to a new building and embrace the unique educational opportunities ahead.”

Maryville Jen School, a program of Maryville, was founded in 2007. The new school at       6935 W. Touhy Ave. in Niles broke ground in November 2022.

The Walsh Academy will build on Jen School’s 16-year history of providing therapeutic educational services in a project-based, vocational education-focused learning environment that also supports the development of life skills.

Walsh Academy will continue Jen School’s founding vision as an alternative pathway for special education students who are unable to succeed in their home schools. It follows a student-directed pace in a safe and nurturing environment with a classroom setting of no more than 10 students.

Unique to Jen School and now Walsh Academy, the expanded curriculum will provide an Individualized Educational Program and vocational opportunities to young men and women in grades 6-12 who are experiencing academic, emotional, behavioral or cognitive challenges. It is the only school in Illinois that has a teacher, a social worker and a paraprofessional in the classroom, and offers an open enrollment policy allowing students to be accepted at any point during the school year.

For more information on Walsh Academy, visit

Maryville breaks ground on new school

The Maryville Jen School broke ground on its new school, the Charles H. Walsh Sr. Academy and Career Tech High School, on November 9, 2022, located at 6935 W Touhy Ave in Niles. The academy is named after the late Chuck Walsh, an alum of Maryville Academy, who also served as a member of its Board of Directors for several years. The Academy will be open in Fall 2023.

Walsh Academy will continue Jen School’s founding vision to provide students with disabilities with a comprehensive and experiential instructional model in academics, career and vocational pathways, and social-emotional skills through research-based practices. The Walsh Academy will prepare students with skills to be career or college ready.

“For over 15 years, Jen School has approached education from the student’s perspective and needs as individuals. This approach has allowed our students to earn their high school diplomas and move on to the next phase of their journey,” said Ann Craig, Maryville’s director of educational services and Jen School principal.

The new Walsh Academy will create more opportunities for special needs students while helping them reach their fullest potential. It is the only school in Illinois that has a teacher, social worker and paraprofessional in the classroom.

“I spent two years at the Jen School and graduated from 8th grade in 2016. During my time there, I felt I was heard and listened to. The teachers and staff really care about each student. They taught me never to give up. They taught me how to channel my life for the better when I was struggling. I still like to go back to the Jen School and visit even after graduating from high school and working full time,” shared Nick.

Skilled tradespeople are in high demand, and there is an untapped opportunity to educate and prepare special needs students. Trade jobs like electricians, plumbers, machinists, welding and HVAC are high-demand and high-paying jobs, however, 62% of national contractors are struggling to fill over 8 million important skilled trade positions. Additionally, graduation rates for special education students are significantly lower than the general population. 

The Walsh Academy will provide students with individualized Career Technical Education (CTE) programming in the following industries: 

  • Construction – including home construction and repair and building tiny homes for veterans. 
  • Small Engine/Bicycle Repair
  • Graphics 

Additionally, other new facilities at the Walsh Academy include: 

  • Metals Lab
  • Podcast Studio
  • Medical/ Health Lab
  • Culinary Lab Garden/ Greenhouse
  • Driver’s Education

The Academy is also working on developing a three-way partnership with contractors and union organizations who are helping develop course curricula and providing recommendations on the facilities and equipment needed to prepare students for success in apprenticeships, additional technical training or higher education and on-the-job. 

“There is a high demand for skilled trade people. CISCO‘s partnership with Walsh Academy allows us to explore an untapped opportunity to educate and prepare these high school students – burdened with severe economic and social challenges, for career opportunities in the union construction industry. CISCO is proud to provide support to prepare these high school students for union apprenticeship programs, which lead to career opportunities with union construction contractors and a path to the middle class,” said Dan Allen, Construction Industry Service Corporation executive director. “

Students who attend Jen School have one or more significant challenges such as specific learning disability, intellectual disability, autism or health impairment. Many of these students experienced childhood trauma such as abuse, neglect and abandonment. Jen School aims to offer a pathway for these students who are unable to succeed in their home schools. The new Walsh Academy will eventually accommodate 120 students – 82% more than today and increase its academic classrooms from eight to 12. Additionally, It has an open enrollment policy allowing the students to enter the school at any point. For more information on the new Walsh Academy, please visit

About Jen School

Maryville Jen School provides specialized academic and vocational opportunities for young men and women experiencing academic, emotional, behavioral or cognitive challenges that can potentially limit their life success. Students are served in uniquely designed classrooms to maximize effectiveness across the continuum of age and disability. Maryville Jen School is an Illinois State Board of Education-approved Non-Public Special Education Facility (14-7.02) licensed to serve students ages 14 – 22.

Maryville to conduct NARCAN administration trainings with local partners Aug. 31

Maryville, a child care organization based in Des Plaines, will be conducting two Overdose Awareness trainings, one in the morning at Loretto Hospital in Chicago, and an afternoon training at Des Plaines Public Library on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

Maryville’s staff led by Jim Eaglin, Family Behavioral Health Clinic recovery home operator, will spearhead the trainings on how to administer NARCAN, an opioid antagonist which works to cause a reversal effect of an overdose.

The morning training, through Maryville’s partnership with Loretto Hospital, will be on the sixth floor auditorium of Loretto Hospital. For those interested, they can select a time slot from the following: 10 to 10:30 a.m., 10:30 to 11 a.m., 11 to 11:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. to noon.

Supplies for the trainings are limited and those interested to attend must register by calling Maryville’s Nancy Woulfe at (847) 294-1910. Light refreshments will be served.

“Few communities have been more dramatically impacted by the opioid epidemic than Chicago’s West side Austin neighborhood,” said Tesa Anewishki, interim President & CEO, Loretto Hospital. “As we fight to stem the root causes of this disease, we also need to educate and empower our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, to intervene in cases of overdose.”

Eaglin looks forward to the training, a first for his team.

“I am excited that Maryville is co-hosting the event with Loretto Hospital, Des Plaines Public Library and Oakton Community College,” Eaglin said. “There is a need to bring overdose awareness to our communities and train people how to administer NARCAN to save lives.”

Eaglin has developed a plan for naloxone distribution during the training.

The afternoon training, also on Aug. 31, will be at the Des Plaines Public Library, 1501 Ellinwood St. in Des Plaines. The hours are 2 to 2:30 p.m., 2:30 to 3 p.m., 3 to 3:30 p.m. or 3:30 to 4 p.m. Like the Loretto Hospital training, registration is required by calling Maryville’s Nancy Woulfe.

The training at the Des Plaines Public Library is through Maryville’s partnership with the library and Oakton Community College.

Aug. 31 is designated as International Overdose Awareness Day.

Maryville Crisis Nursery offers free emergency child care to families in crisis

Staff at the Maryville Crisis Nursery, 6650 W. Irving Park Rd, watch children on April 30, 2022. The Crisis Nursery provides free short-term care for parents in distress and experiencing a crisis. Staff and volunteers protect their children, birth to age six, from abuse, neglect or trauma. Children receive round-the-clock child care for up to 72 hours for each stay from events llife events such as unemployment, parental illness or hospitalization, poverty and homelessness.(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Maryville Crisis Nursery: A lifeline for families with young children

Find our Maryville Crisis Nursery story on pages 33, 40 and 41.

Maryville administrator to mentor veterans at Des Plaines Chamber Veterans Boot Camp

Maryville Director of Staff Education Morris Brent, a U.S. Navy veteran, expresses his excitement to serve as mentor for the Des Plaines Chamber Veterans Boot Camp that will run from September to November.

Morris Brent, Maryville director of staff education, has joined the pool of mentors as Maryville ambassador for the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Veterans Back to Work Boot Camp. The program began Sept. 8.

The Veterans Boot Camp, which the Des Plaines Chamber started in 2017 with the support of Rivers Casino, will provide 10 weeks of comprehensive career development programming, using proven job-seeking tools adapted to the needs, experiences and skills of veterans, according to the chamber’s website.

Veterans will be able to connect with mentors, local businesses and leaders. The program will cover career preparation and exploration; provide practical, hands-on assistance with job hunting, resumes and interviewing; address emotional and physical health; and give veterans the motivation and tools they need to succeed.

Brent, a decorated Navy veteran himself, looks forward to being part of the boot camp.

“I have a passion for helping vets,” he said. “I’ve been in their shoes and know how difficult it is to transition out.”

He said it is very important for him to serve the veterans as a life or career coach.

“It means a lot to me to be able to help them align their goals with their skills for their next chapter, whether it is finding a job or becoming an entrepreneur,” Brent added.

“Every veteran is not the same. Factors such as how long someone served, what his/her job specialty was, if they served during war and/or peacetime and others are all components that make each veteran’s transition uniquely different.”

He said that part of the transition is to understand where the veterans are coming from before they walk into an employer’s office.

“You have to know yourself and be clear on exactly what you’re bringing to a prospective employer — not just on paper as a candidate, and then be ready to transition from the person you used to be to the person you want to become,” he said.

Brent is a Chicago native and combat veteran who served in the U.S. Navy for 12 years. A decorated cryptologist, he soared through the ranks and received four Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, three consecutive Sailor of the Quarter selections and Sailor of the Year award. He served on two warships at sea in two wars and a tour in Okinawa, Japan.

Given his impressive performance record, in addition to his accomplishments as a surface warfare and master training specialist, Brent was cited as one of the Navy’s “best of the best.”

For his final tour, he was selected to return to Illinois to become a navy drill instructor at the Great Lakes Navy Recruit Training Command. Considered among the elite, Brent received a medal for training more than 800 recruits from all over the country.

Brent said that serving as a boot camp mentor aligns with his professional goals.

“When the call came to be a mentor, it took some time for me to think through the invitation because mentoring is a serious responsibility,” he said. “There’s no expiration on it — you have that assignment for life. There is no chance to bail out.”

He said that he would be more purposeful about helping transform the person from their current self to their best self. “And hopefully if they do that, the job part will work itself out.”

Before joining Maryville in 2015, Brent worked as a learning technologist in the nonprofit, corporate and academic fields after his honorable exit from the military in 2001. He is a proud Southern Illinois University alumnus and dedicates his spare time to community projects and social causes.

“I love my job at Maryville,” he said. “I always tell people how blessed I am to walk in my ministry every day through my work. Service to humanity is my passion, and I always want to do things that are purposeful.”

This year’s boot camp will follow a hybrid format. Veterans will have the opportunity to attend the chamber’s networking events like the annual golf outing, in-person networking breakfasts and Zoom Leadership and Social Impact meetings to practice their elevator pitches and networking skills.

Veterans completing the program will attend a special graduation ceremony scheduled in November.

(Link to Daily Herald –

Maryville Academy continued to serve children and families through pandemic

Maryville, which is located just over Mount Prospect’s eastern border, was founded in 1883. It is a child care organization rooted in Catholic social teaching and dedicated to the preservation of the dignity of children at every age. Our mission is to protect children and strengthen families while helping them reach their fullest potential by empowering their intellectual, spiritual, moral and emotional growth. 

Maryville serves the children and families through our life-changing programs in the following areas: behavioral health services, early childhood services, education services, family and residential services. We care for babies and young adults, ages birth to 21, across all of our programs in Bartlett, Chicago and Des Plaines. 

During fiscal year 2019 Maryville served more than 8,700 children, families and adults and more than 5,000 children, families and adults in fiscal year 2020 (the decrease in number served was due to the pandemic). Maryville has about 500 staff members at its Bartlett, Chicago and Des Plaines campuses. On the Des Plaines campus, we have approximately 70 children in residence. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, serving our beautiful ministry of protecting children and families in our care was paramount. As soon as Gov. Pritzker ordered the lockdown, our Executive Director Sister Catherine M. Ryan, O.S.F. and Maryville’s leadership council moved to action swiftly. Necessary precautions were taken immediately to protect the children, families and staff. 

Our Jen School Principal Anne Craig submitted its remote learning plan to the Illinois State Board of Education and received approval right away. Our Jen School faculty took up the challenge of going from in-person to remote learning. Maryville shelter, residential and health care programs continued to care for the children. 

When Gov. Pritzker announced the stay-at-home order in late March of 2020, some Maryville staff in support departments did so and worked from home. Staff in family and residential homes continued to report to work daily to care for the children who are not able to be at home for a period of time. 

Maryville did not have any serious outbreaks. Safety protocols such as social distancing of at least six feet from any other person, frequent hand washing, wearing of face coverings and checking of temperature at each building were strictly implemented and followed. Deep cleaning was enforced and air filtration in our homes and administrative offices was improved. Additionally, all programs were closed to outside visitors and non-essential medical appointments for our children were canceled. 

To accommodate remote learning, our information technology (IT) department provided additional Chromebooks to our youth whose school buildings were closed. 

In addition to providing tools for a successful remote learning experience, the children and young adults in our residential programs were engaged with different educational activities that allowed them a virtual classroom experience. For instance, the girls on our Eisenberg campus engaged in arts and crafts such as painting, decorating small tote bags with donated art materials, making a piñata, brainstorming science fair ideas, learning the history of the Ferris Wheel in Chicago while they bult popsicle stick Ferris Wheels, playing games and many more. 

Maryville’s IT department made it possible for our children and youth to learn remotely and for staff to hold meetings virtually. All of our programs adapted – and warmed up – to using technology to communicate and get connected. 

Maryville’s leadership team, led by Sister Cathy, sent daily communication via email to all staff. She made sure that staff had the most up-to-date information from Gov. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lightfoot’s offices, IDPH, CDC and other partner agencies, and what that meant for Maryville and staff. One of the first communication emails that Sister Cathy sent was announcing to staff that no one would be laid off. Sister Cathy and her leadership team had daily conference calls to discuss communication and updates to staff. 

We purchased PPEs, enforced deep cleaning and improved air filtration in our group homes and administrative offices at all campuses. 

Once vaccines became available, as essential workers, Maryville’s frontline workers were included in the first phase of the rollout. The majority of Maryville’s staff are vaccinated and we are working on having the youth in our care, ages 12 and older, get vaccinated. 

Maryville does not foresee any long-term changes due to the pandemic but having the option of offering remote learning to students and virtual meetings to staff when needed – and knowing that they work – shows how Maryville proactively reacted and acted swiftly to address the challenges that unfolded. We strictly adhered to, implemented and followed safety protocols that protected our children and staff; allowed Maryville to operate daily; and allowed staff to keep their jobs. 

Planning for the future includes consideration of what actions we would take in the event of another pandemic.

(Posted on Mount Prospect Historical Society website –