The intention of Sacred Heart education is to address the whole person. You come as you are and are cared for with great love. The hope is to implant you a sacred love for yourself, to challenge you to be more honest, to lead you along the road of integrity.

- Life at the Sacred Heart

Mission & History

Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart, founded in 1858, is an independent, Catholic, day and boarding college preparatory school for young women, grades 9-12, who wish to pursue a course of study committed to academic excellence within the context of a faith-based community. As a member of the Network of Sacred Heart Schools in the United States, Woodlands Academy commits itself to educate to our five goals: a personal and active faith in God, a deep respect for intellectual values, a social awareness which impels to action, the building of community as a Christian value, and personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom.


The principles of Sacred Heart education are as relevant today as they were in post-Revolutionary France. Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, who founded the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1800, envisioned a transformational education. Her vision was realized in the United States when Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne arrived in Saint Charles, Missouri, in 1818 to establish Sacred Heart education in the new world.

Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat founded the Society of the Sacred Heart, a religious order dedicated to teaching. She wished to educate women to be not only skilled intellectually but spiritually and morally as well. She believed that educated women could influence and transform society.

The Society of the Sacred Heart was asked to bring its mission to North America. Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne came to the United States, establishing foundations first in St. Charles, Missouri, the first free school west of the Mississippi, and then throughout the Mississippi Valley.

Convent of the Sacred Heart opens on Wabash Avenue in Chicago with an enrollment of five boarders and two day students.

The school moves to Taylor Street with a new name, Academy of the Sacred Heart, and 36 students attend the select boarding school.

The school relocates from Chicago to a wooded parcel at the convergence of Sheridan and Westleigh roads in Lake Forest, then new building there, which later would become known as Old Main, housed 66 boarding students that fall.

The school changes its name back to Convent of the Sacred Heart.

Barat College of the Sacred Heart opens an extension of the existing school’s academic offerings to include two years of college. Both Barat and Convent students attend classes in the Old Main building.

A new structure for the elementary and secondary school was built on a 18-acre portion of the Barat campus under the name we know today, “Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart.” Over the years, Woodlands evolved into a college preparatory day and boarding school for young women of all faiths.

The first expansion for Woodlands Academy was built to house conference areas, a clerestory gallery, and offices.

Woodlands Academy completed a successful capital campaign to build a new, state-of-the-art Science Center which earned a L.E.E.D. Silver Award. Solar panels generate electricity. A natural prairie and outdoor classroom create a peaceful area of quiet, study, and reflection. In addition, many interior renovations enhanced the beauty of the school.

The 23-acre Barat College parcel was purchased for the purpose of anonymous donation to Woodlands Academy.

In August, the school dedicated a new Student Services Center including a Learning and Resource Center, a Student Activities Center, a College Counseling Center, a Dance Studio, and a new Fitness Center.

On December 12th, the birthday of foundress Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, the Barat College property was transferred back to Woodlands Academy, creating its current 41-acre campus.

On September 18th Woodlands Academy dedicated its new expanded campus.

In May, Woodlands dedicated the Quiet Trail, an inspirational walking path for the entire Woodlands and Lake Forest community in memory of Teddy Ebersol.

Woodlands celebrated 10 years of Vienna exchange with Sacré Couer Wien, our sister school in Vienna, Austria with the arrival of 11 students in March.

In May Woodlands launched the Global Odyssey program which provides every Woodlands Academy student with an international experience, either immersive or through a special class, in order to spark her global curiosity and develop her global competence.

Celebrating Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, a pioneer missionary of the Society of the Sacred Heart, who came to St. Charles, Missouri, from France and founded the first free school west of the Mississippi in September 1818.

More History

Check out A History of Woodlands Academy for more historical context about our founding, including excerpts from an 1879 issue of the Chicago Tribune and an 1895 issue of The New World.