The Beat

The Beat

Martina Santos 26 (left) hosts Nieves Gomez as an exchange student from Madrid.
Meet Nieves Gomez
May 27, 2024

Welcome to the Upper School


Two motivated leaders join the upper school this academic year with the value of “presence” as a priority for the Sacred Heart community.

and Bettina Baptista ‘22

The new Upper School Head, Ms. Hillary Feerick-Hillenbrand defines “presence” as, “ a very important word for those in a leadership position because you are not supposed to just be in an office doing things behind the scenes, you need to be involved in what’s happening on a daily basis.”

Ms. Maritza Fernandez, the new Dean of Students describes “presence” as, “It’s not about attendance. Presence means engagement and for our community, it’s being engaged in our activities, being engaged in our day to day conversations with each other, being Christlike, and devoting ourselves to the moment and to the people around you.”

Ms. Hillary Feerick- Hillenbrand joins the Carrollton community after a long educational career. She served as the assistant head of school and English department chair at St. Andrews, published a book, The Secret Life of Mitch Spinach and spoke about the importance of nutrition at speaking engagements throughout Florida. She taught English at Monsignor Edward Pace High School and at the University of Miami. Mrs. Feerick- Hillenbrand holds the Grant Winner award for excellence in teaching at St. Andrews School, as well as an IB Diploma Programme Administrators Category 2 Certificate, an Independent School Management Department Head Training, and is honored for presenting at the AP National Conference in 2017.

Ms. Fernandez graduated from Carrollton in 2004, and earned her Master of Science in Reading Education, with a Major in English and a Bachelors of Arts degree from Florida International University. She taught Kindergarten through 5th grade Media Literacy and Computer Science at St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School, and a variety of 5th – 8th grade subject areas at Gulliver Academy. Ms. Fernandez returned to Carrollton in 2010 as a 6th grade teacher. She had an “incredibly humbling” and “life changing” job as a homeschool instructor where she facilitated learning for people with special needs.

When asked what her goals are for the year, Ms. Feerick-Hillenbrand said, “To inspire the faculty to think differently about the curriculum. We’re looking for more value in our curriculum, and for the students, I hope, to really enjoy the learning process.”  

Ms. Fernandez’ Sacred Heart background has prepared her to fill this new position and pursue her goals for this academic year, “To help students embody the Goals and Criteria and allow them to manifest that in their words, actions, and thoughts.”

“My favorite thing about Carrollton is that people are kind to each other, every day, they really are,” said Ms. Feerick Hillenbrand.

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