The Gift of Legacy Families

Legacy Families

Marie Tigani Stiles ’79 and daughter Elizabeth Stiles McNevin ’04
Marie Tigani Stiles ’79 and daughter Elizabeth Stiles McNevin ’04

For many of our legacy families, they can think of no better gift to give the young women in their ranks—be they daughters, granddaughters, nieces or siblings—than the gift of a Holy Child education. Since the school’s founding in Potomac in 1961, the mission and beliefs of the Society’s founder, Cornelia Connelly, represent the foundational core that informs all faculty, students, families and programs. Those intangibles that make Holy Child special are what make our graduates unique and part of a special group of women who go forth and work to make their corners of the world better[1] .

Take Marie Tigani Stiles and Elizabeth Stiles McNevin, a mother and daughter legacy of Holy Child from the classes of 1979 and 2004 respectively. Hands down [2] both Marie and Elizabeth are grateful to have gone to Holy Child. For both, the abiding gifts they feel they received are the strong community, life-long friends, and wonderful teachers who provided an excellent education. Neither Marie nor Elizabeth would ever want the school to go co-ed: the all-girls’ community, size, and values-based foundation made all the difference in the quality of their education and experience.

Marie, who attended a co-ed Catholic School, found Holy Child in 8th grade when it was time to start thinking about high school. Her parents took her to tour Georgetown Visitation and Holy Child: Marie chose Holy Child. Turns out Marie’s close grade-school friend, Emily Berube Ederer, also chose Holy Child. Back in the 70s, Holy Child was still a fairly new school. Marie recalls there was a big emphasis on social responsibility, that everyone was very service focused. Marie loved that she could be herself—which, according to her, was a ‘total nerd.’ And that was fine at Holy Child! Although she loved math and science where, by the way, she dissected an armadillo (!) with Mrs. Levy, she joined drama, the Spanish club, and yearbook staff. Marie recalls, “there was something for everyone.” Mrs. Kosch was Vice Principal, and everyone sang ‘Barbara Ann’ [3] to Sister Barbara Ann…she put up with it, as you would imagine, gracefully.

After Holy Child, Marie went on to study at Vanderbilt for one year before transferring to Georgetown and then Georgetown Dental School, where she met her husband, Dennis. Marie, like her father and brother, also found her calling to become a dentist. “It’s the people part about being a dentist that I love. Helping people.” Marie and Dennis practice comprehensive dental care in the Kentlands at Stiles Dentistry.

Elizabeth’s interests have taken her on a different career path from medicine, one that she credits her parents and grounding at Holy Child to have given her the confidence and drive to succeed and take on challenges. Elizabeth is a young entrepreneur, recently launching her own firm —sociale consulting —which is a boutique social media agency helping brands discover their voice and vision in order to implement their social media plan to increase business successes.

In considering her daughter’s educational path, Marie wanted Elizabeth to go to Holy Child. Marie had read Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher, Ph.D., and she could think of no better environment for her daughter than Holy Child. What better school environment and culture for Elizabeth to come into her own, where all leadership roles are for all girls? Mrs. Kosch and Sister Connie continued on the faculty roster and welcomed Elizabeth into the community starting in 7th grade.

Elizabeth loved the community and the strong friendships she found at Holy Child, sharing that the great teachers that she had gave her the ability to flourish in such an encouraging environment. Though she really did not like history, Elizabeth felt that her history teacher, Mr. Woodard, worked with Elizabeth to make sure history was fun. Mr. Woodard even added an extra credit question about a Justin Timberlake concert—knowing Elizabeth had gone to the event the evening before.  Favorite tradition? Spirit Week, when everyone came together and engaged in competition.

While Elizabeth recalls that she had been shy in front of people, by the time she graduated, she was much more confident. At Elon University, Elizabeth joined a sorority. Turns out her ‘Big’ was a Holy Child graduate, Amy Ruddell, class of 2003. Elizabeth’s class of 2004 is incredibly connected with each other since graduation. It certainly helped that Facebook was launched that same year, giving the girls a medium to keep the special bond going beyond Potomac.

Both Marie and Elizabeth hope that Holy Child stay focused through ‘Actions, not Words,’ stays small(ish) with middle and upper schools, and most importantly, remains all-girls.

With such loyal and accomplished alumnae such as Maureen, Caitlin, soon-to-be Molly, [4] Marie and Elizabeth, Holy Child will continue to flourish, educating the next generation of women leaders.