Updates from the Principal

May 18, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students,

I hope you and your families are doing well and keeping safe.  Incredibly, today marks two months since we shifted to Remote Learning.  I am not sure how many of us envisioned then that we would not return to campus for the remainder of the school year, but here we are, still working from home; our classrooms are in our kitchens, dining rooms and bedrooms.  I do believe though, that we have done a remarkable job of continuing the outstanding educational program for which Mary Louis is known.

I commend our students, faculty and staff for their continuous dedication to excellence in all we do.  I am inspired by the tireless efforts of so many who create and deliver lessons; who check in on those who may be experiencing difficulties; who encourage us to remain physically, emotionally and spiritually fit, and by those who are working toward completing this school year successfully.  There are many causes for celebration during these trying times, as our community continues to share their gifts and talents with our TMLA family.  Our thanks to Campus Minister, Mrs. DeLorenzo and St. Francis de Sales Church for holding our Annual Mother/Daughter Liturgy on May 8th via Facebook.  We had over 100 families join in mass celebrating our moms!  We congratulate junior Bridget Farrell, who was named a winner for The New York Browning Society’s Poetry Competition.  Kudos to our Art Department and Art Majors for their recognition in the Scholastic Art Awards for 2020.  Silver Keys were awarded to Alexis Geras, Justine Lao, Zara McPartland, Louise Moran, Bianca Ohringer and Emma Witanowski.  Scholastic Awards went to Mahalia Carbonell, Emily Gross, Marissa Marta and Kimberly Vineskialso.  We congratulate these young women on very fine work and Mrs. Durkin and Ms. Ramadan on their encouragement and instruction.  Our Mariel staff put out its first ever digital publication this past week!  Long desired by senior Katarina Cordero, the digital issue came together through the diligence, hard work and determination of the staff of writers, the Editors Katarina Cordero, Rebecca Tejiram, Oninye Ofornagoro, Chloe Chang and Leanna Travers, and its moderator, Ms. Cordes.  The issue is posted on our website, it’s a great read with a beautiful tribute to Mr. Lewinger and special messages to the seniors.

The Class of 2020 ended classes last week with a beautiful virtual Senior Level Meeting, produced by Dean, Mrs. McCormack, Counselor, Ms. Kovach, Student Council President, Devon Nicholson and Senior Class President, Shannon Neiswenter.  There were video tributes from the classes of 2023, 2022, and 2021, in addition to a special video from the Faculty and Staff, and ended with a retrospective video created by Devon and Shannon.  It was a moving testament to the friendships formed these past four years.  While we should currently be preparing for Prom, Graduation Liturgy and Graduation itself, we know we must still wait until it is safe to be together again.  We are hoping to hold these precious events in mid to late July.  We await directives from New York State and City before putting anything definitive in place, but we are holding onto the hope that we might be able to celebrate the milestone of Graduation, and all it includes, in person.  Should that not be permissible, we will resort to a virtual liturgy and commencement.  Further details will be made known as our city develops plans for reopening.   

Our plans, meanwhile, for the immediate future are in keeping with our regular school calendar.  We will “be closed” May 21– 25, or more specifically, we will not have class from Ascension Thursday through Memorial Day, and will resume classes on Tuesday, May 26, for the underclasswomen.  Classes for our 9th, 10th and 11th grade students will continue through Thursday, June 11th.  Information about Final Assessments will be made available in early June.  As a reminder, all students must pass all courses in order to receive the Regents exemptions and avoid summer school.  Any information regarding retrieving items from lockers will be shared once all decisions are in place.  

We know this is a difficult time for so many of us as there is great worry about the uncertainty of many things.  Please take comfort in the belief that Mary Louis will continue to work to the best of its ability to walk this journey with you.  May God bless each of you and your families.

Fidem Servavi,

Ann O’Hagan-Cordes


April 11, 2020

Dear TMLA Community,

During this Holy Week, we are reminded of the suffering of Jesus.  The beautiful depiction of Stations of the Cross on our website illustrates the difficult journey He endured for our sake.  Christ knows the heavy burden we bear. He hears our prayers to take this cup from us.  We have heard of the heartache many in our family are experiencing through the illness and loss of loved ones; we share in your grief and pray for you.  We believe in the resurrection, so we fortify ourselves with faith that this period of loss and separation will not last forever.  We will celebrate happy occasions again; we will again be with those who are at this moment so far away from us; let Jesus’ resurrection speak to us: at a time, unknown to us, life will begin anew.  Until then, we are charged with doing all each of us can to help those in our community and city stay healthy and safe. 

We give thanks to all of those on the “front lines” of this pandemic: the medical professionals, the emergency responders, the grocery store workers, the delivery personnel and all who help keep the city running.  Closer to home, we express enormous gratitude to our teachers, who have rededicated themselves to their profession and our students.  The on-the-job training going on behind the scenes should be both a source of pride and comfort to all of you.   There is a continual collaborative sharing of information and knowledge to ensure that our students receive the best education possible.  The extraordinary academic program we offer at Mary Louis continues to be outstanding.  From our community, we hear time and again positive feedback about maintaining a sense of normalcy in these abnormal times.  We will continue to work to the best of our abilities to provide a connection from our homes to the Mary Louis community.

Please visit our website regularly.  We regularly add new information that could be a help to you – mind, body and soul.  When you click on the Covid-19 banner, you will find a list of several areas of interest to peruse.  For example, in our Notes from the Nurse section, there are helpful tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Additionally, there is information for those who might be suffering from food insecurity during these trying times.  Any and all New Yorkers may pick up 3 meals a day from local sites.  Please share this information with anyone who may need it. One does not need to be a public-school student in order to receive free nourishment.    In addition, one of the links connects to work-out advice from our Sports Medicine Department; and we, of course, feed the soul with our prayers and meditation pages, vital in maintaining balance in our lives.  It’s important to know we are not alone when we experience human emotion, be it fear, sadness or great joy.  Hopefully, information shared through our communications will affirm this.

Our family has come together in recent days to share our unspeakable grief, while simultaneously offering love and consolation to the Lewinger family and each other. Our memories of Mr. Lewinger are beautiful, funny, touching, innumerable.  Joe was well loved, as was in evidence on Monday when over 1300 people tuned in to his memorial mass.  He was a beautiful soul that left us far too soon; though we are grateful for the opportunity to have worked with him side-by-side these many years, we will feel the loss for a very long time.  Attached to this letter is a memorial card in honor of Joe.  While no words can ever fully express a life, we hope the sentiment expressed gives a glimpse into who he was to so many.  Mr. Lewinger was laid to rest this past Wednesday in a private burial; we pray his soul rests in the peace of our loving God. There will be a time in the future when we will come together to celebrate the life and legacy of Joseph, until such time, let us pray to and for him and his family.

We will take a break this week from our school work and obligations.  It is our hope to allow all of us time to rest, reflect and recharge ourselves.  There will be plenty of conversation after this vacation week to talk about “what’s next.”  You are already aware of Regents exams being cancelled.  We will address what that means for each of us when we return. You should know; however, students are still required to pass all course work in order to receive the Regents exemption credit.   You know that New York State remains closed until at least April 29th so when we resume class on April 20th, we resume remote learning.  As far as dates for events that have passed or are still upcoming, no decision about the (re)scheduling of those can be made until we know when the State will reopen, and in what fashion that will happen.  Therefore, the school building remains closed until further notice.  

We pray that all remain healthy and safe this week, and ask God’s blessings on all in our community this Easter and always. 

Fidem Servavi,

Ann O’Hagan-Cordes


April 2, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students,

I hope you are keeping well.  It’s been good to see “Mary Louis blue” skies yesterday and today; perhaps you’ve been able to get some fresh air while keeping at a distance from others.

In my letter to you earlier this week, I mentioned the possibility of joining together in a virtual mass for Mr. Lewinger.  We will do that through the kindness of Fr. Bill Sweeney and Fr. Jim Cunningham of St. Francis de Sales parish.  Mass will be held on Monday, April 6th at 9am through their Live Stream Facebook page; the link is www.facebook.com/sfdschurch/.  Should you need them, directions for joining mass will be posted on our website.  All parents, students, alumna are welcome to join.  This, then, will affect our class schedule.  The following adjustments have been made:

Friday, 4/3, C day: Adjusted Schedule, as planned. Classes will be ½ hour and end at 12:30, to allow for extra-help/ tutoring from your teachers from 12:30 – 2:30.

Monday, 4/6, F day drops out: Homeroom at regular time, then join SFDS Church for 9am mass.  Following mass, counselors will be available to those who would like some time to talk.  No classes today.

Tuesday, 4/7, A day: Full Day, Regular Schedule

Wednesday, 4/8, B day: Full Day, Regular Schedule* this is a change from what was planned.

Thursday, 4/9: Holy Thursday – Easter Vacation begins.  No classes from 4/9 through 4/19.

Classes resume Monday, 4/20 C day.

As of this writing, our return date remains undetermined.  We will certainly keep you informed as information becomes available. As always, should you need anything, please let us know. You remain in our thoughts and prayers.  Be well, stay safe.


Ann O’Hagan-Cordes


March 31st, 2020

Dear TMLA Family,

Joseph Lewinger was a tireless champion for the empowerment of women.  From history to economics and athletics to culture, Joe was passionate about ensuring that the young women of The Mary Louis Academy had every opportunity to grow and thrive.  Over the course of 20 years, Joe wore many hats at TMLA; Teacher, Coach, Assistant Athletic Director, Athletic Director, Admissions Councilor and finally, Assistant Principal for Student Life.  Joe filled each role with his boundless drive, energy and commitment to excellence.  Our TMLA Family is far better for having known and loved him.

There has been such an incredible outpouring of love and support for Joe, the Lewinger Family and our TMLA Family as a whole.  As a CSJ Sponsored School, we are called to live the mission of Unity, Reconciliation, All-Inclusive Love and concern for the dear neighbor.  The last few days have left no doubt that the mission is alive and well in each of you, as it was with Joe, and for that we cannot thank you enough.

Many have asked what you can do to show your love and appreciation for all Joe has been to you and to our community.  I have spoken with Joe’s family and they have agreed that a wonderful way to celebrate the life of a man who proudly called himself “a Woman of Dignity” is to help ensure that his legacy of excellence and opportunity lives on.  Therefore, The Mary Louis Academy is establishing The Joseph M. Lewinger Fund for Student Life.  This fund shall serve to assist any student who is suddenly struck with a critical moment in their lives, i.e. the death of a parent, loss of their home or catastrophic illness.  As both the beloved husband and proud father of TMLA women, Joe knew firsthand the countless ways in which Mary Louis women make our world a better place.  He was deeply committed to ensuring that as many young women as possible could achieve their dreams at TMLA.  This fund will help make that commitment a lasting reality.

Memorializing a man who was larger than life is a significant undertaking.  To that end, my husband, Chris, and I are honored to make the initial gift of $1,000 to begin The Joseph M. Lewinger Fund for Student Life.  We can think of no better way for us to celebrate the life and legacy of such a dearly beloved colleague and friend.  You may contribute to the fund by clicking HERE I invite you to join us in helping to ensure that Joe Lewinger’s enduring legacy at The Mary Louis Academy will be one of vision, promise and belief in a brighter tomorrow. 

Thank you and please be assured of my continued prayers for all our TMLA Family.

Fidem Servavi,

Ann O’Hagan-Cordes


March 29, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students,

The outpouring of love, prayers and support to our community has been an incredible source of comfort to many of us as we struggle to come to grips with the tragic passing of Mr. Lewinger. The posts on social media, Facebook and emails that have been sent are a testament to how much “J Lew” was loved, but also to the strength of both this community and our Alumnae sisters who join us in grief.

Today, I have had many conversations, emails, texts, phone calls with so many in our family; the feeling is universal – disbelief and incredible sadness.    We are a community in mourning; we shall be so for a while yet. We will come together apart to help each other through the grieving process.  It will look different for each of us, as we all experience pain and loss in or own unique way. To help us begin to work our way into this, we need a framework.  We are not able to have a gathering such as a wake or funeral, so we will do what we can to console each other virtually.

Monday, March 30th, will be a “Day of Mourning.” We will gather at homeroom time, as usual, to share in prayer together.  Then, we will move through our A day schedule.  Your teachers will be available to you at each scheduled class time, for your class to be together to talk, respond, pray together if you wish.  There will not be regular academic work; your teachers will be available to you, much the same way as if you were walking through the halls and decided to stop in to talk with one of them. 

Your Guidance Counselor will be in touch with each of you, to set up large group meetings and then smaller group sessions. We encourage each of you to avail yourself of the opportunity to meet in these groups. Given the need for personal connections, I have lifted the camera ban on class meetings.  This is optional; it helps to see the face of another when we are in these situations. 

Athletes, your coaches and our Athletic Department has been, or will be in touch, so as to offer you time together. 

We are in the planning stages of a community live-stream mass to be held at the end of the week.  As that takes more form, I will share that information with all of you, so that we – Faculty, Students, Parents, can come together to pray for Joe, his family, and each other. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to anyone of us if you need anything.  As always, you are in my prayers, and I ask to be in yours.  Please, stay well.

Fidem Servavi,

Ann O’Hagan-Cordes


March 28, 2020

Dear TMLA Family,

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write to you this evening. I have just received the news we have dreaded, and had prayed would not come.  Our dear, much loved, Joseph Lewinger has passed into the arms of Jesus tonight.  Joe dedicated his life to his family: his beautiful wife, Maura, whom he adored; his son, Jack, and daughters Madison and Maeve, all three of whom lit up his world; he tirelessly served The Mary Louis Academy for 20 years as teacher, coach, Assistant Athletic Director, Athletic Director, and currently as Assistant Principal of Student Life.  His love for Mary Louis was always in evidence, particularly when he referred to himself as a Woman of Dignity!

There will be time in the future to celebrate all of Joe’s numerous accomplishments.  Now is the time to grieve and mourn our tremendous loss.  Once again, I know we feel the need to come together, to console each other, to hug, cry, scream and say it’s not fair… sadly, the time for us to do that as a community has to wait.  We will gather together at some point, when our city can come out of isolation, to share our memories of Mr. Lewinger – J Lew- and there are many wonderful stories to share – but for now, we pray for the strength to get through this.  We pray for the entire Lewinger Family and for our Mary Louis family.  We pray that others who are inflicted with this disease recover and return to their families; we pray for those on the front lines, trying their best to save lives, that they themselves are safe.  

As always, we are here for all of you, your counselors and teachers are available to you, as we help each other find our way through this. We will get through this. Unity, reconciliation, inclusive love, concern for the dear neighbor, it’s what we are called to do. 

May God Bless all of you, your families and TMLA

Fidem Servavi,

Ann O’Hagan-Cordes


“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…Fidem Servavi” ~ Timothy 4:6-7 

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

Dear Parents/ Guardians, Students,

In yesterday’s Friday Update, I had told you that Mr. Lewinger’s fever had broken, which was very good news, but that he was not out of the woods yet. 

As COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, Mr. Lewinger has had difficulty breathing; he has been on oxygen to assist him.  Yesterday, his medical team decided that he needed more help.  Therefore, he has been intubated and placed on a ventilator; the machine will breathe for him, so that his body can rest, and hopefully recover from this insidious disease.  He is in ICU and receiving excellent care.  The medical team anticipates he could be on the ventilator for 10-14 days.  Maybe more, maybe less.  

I know this is difficult news to read; it is difficult news to share with you, but we are all in this together; we need to know how “our family” is doing. I will continue to update you as information becomes available.

We are here for you; let us know whatever you may need, and we will do our best to help you through these trying times. We pray for you, your families and all in our community. Please, be well.

Fidem Servavi,

Ann O’Hagan-Cordes


Friday, March 27th, 2020

March 27, 2020

Dear TMLA Family,

I do hope this update finds all of you doing well in mind, body and spirit.  We have long-known what a strong community Mary Louis is.  That belief is in greater evidence each day, as we make our way through these unchartered waters.  We have worked collaboratively ensuring our academic program remains uninterrupted.  Our Sports Medicine Department has created a work-out plan for our athletes, and for those of us not-so-athletic types! Our daily prayer, mindfulness opportunities and spirituality shines through each day, as we send prayers to those who are in need of them.

I commend our stellar faculty for embracing virtual learning; they are learning new and exciting ways to conduct classes and lessons.  Each day, professional development occurs before, during and long after the school day ends.  They have been tireless in their efforts and dedication to you.  Just as some of us adapt to change quicker than others, some of us utilize technology with greater facility than others; so, we continue to be patient with ourselves and others, we use trial and error when initiating new ways of meeting our classes, and we learn.  Every day, we learn.  

Students, you have been remarkable in your constant support and assistance to your teachers and each other.  I have heard countless stories of students helping teachers set up Google Classrooms, Google Meet, Zoom… You are attending class, submitting your assignments, and continuing the furtherance of your education in a less than ideal situation.  I know the year coordinators are working with the Deans and Counselors to keep everyone connected in one way or another. Kudos to all of you!  We all miss seeing each other regularly; we miss “catching up” with each other, having lunch together… I love to hear some of you are having “virtual lunch” over Meet or Facetime! Keep it up; it helps people feel connected, which is so important these days. It’s important to keep the semblance of “normalcy,” where nothing is “normal.”

We are continuing our Course Registration process for the 2020-21 school year.  Soon, you will receive instructions to verify your course selections, then we will begin to build our Master Program.  

There are some events, however, we cannot yet re-plan with certainty.  Postponed has been our Spirit Week and Ring Day, as has our Uniform Measurement Day and the Senior Overnight Retreat, among other happenings. While I would love to give you specific dates for those events, I am not able to do so just yet.  We are still in a rescheduling holding pattern for the time being.  I hope you understand, as soon as it is possible, we will calendar those very important events.  As of this writing, Prom and Senior Events remain as scheduled.  

Easter vacation week remains as is.  We will hold Remote Classes through Wednesday, April 8th.  We will take “vacation” from Holy Thursday through Sunday, April 19th.  Classes will resume on Monday, April 20th.  From where, we do not yet know.

Please visit our website frequently.  By Monday, March 30th, we will have a slightly new look to our landing page with regular updates providing new information from various departments: “Notes from the Nurse” will feature tips on Healthy Lifestyle and eating choices and combatting “Cabin Fever”; Library Corner will have suggested books to read; Art Gallery will showcase the work of our Art Majors, just like we have in our halls at school, and Sports Med Program has created those work-out tips, to name a few. 

In order to allow for “extra help” time, we will have an Adjusted Schedule on Friday, April 3rd.  Classes will finish at 12:30; teachers are working on an “Office Hours” schedule to be available to you by mid-week next week.  This will give you the time you need to access additional help or tutoring, or to catch up on your assignments.  We are a community that helps each other; this will give us just a bit more time to do that.

Our community has come together in prayer for Mr. Lewinger.  While he continues to be hospitalized, his fever has broken, which is great news.  However, he is not out of the woods yet. Please continue the rosaries, novenas, prayers, good wishes and positive thoughts.  They are working, but we are not finished yet.  I will continue to update you as information becomes available.  I have forwarded to him and Mrs. Lewinger every email or message you sent.  They have been an enormous reminder of how much we love him.  He is grateful for all the encouragement and support!

Unity, Reconciliation, All-Inclusive Love, and Concern for the dear Neighbor… it’s alive and well in all we do and who we are.  I couldn’t be prouder to walk this mile with you.

Fidem Servavi,

Ann O’Hagan-Cordes


Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students,

I do hope all of you are doing well during these very difficult days.  We are working to the best of our ability to keep our Mary Louis community strong academically, spiritually and physically.   Please check our website regularly for updates in each of those areas as we move forward.

As you know, our community often shares information about each other, whether it is joy or sorrow – filled.  I want to make you aware of our Assistant Principal of Student Life, Mr. Lewinger’s, illness.  Mr.  Lewinger has been in the hospital for the better part of a week.  While at home two weeks ago, he awoke with a fever. Feeling something was amiss, and afraid for himself and all those around him, he went to Urgent Care for an exam and asked for the Coronavirus test; he was told he was not a candidate, that he should go home, rest and isolate himself, which he did.  When the fever would not break, he went to the ER where it was determined he had pneumonia.  At that time, he was tested for the virus and hospitalized to treat the pneumonia and fever. That Coronavirus test came back negative.  After a few days, while still hospitalized, he was again tested for the coronavirus; this test did come back as positive for Covid-19.  

Mr. Lewinger has not been in school since before we ended in-person classes.  His family is showing no signs of the illness.  Those of us who were in closest contact with him just before he developed a fever have shown no signs of the virus. 

Mr. Lewinger is in need of our prayers, as is his family.  He is receiving excellent care by dedicated, selfless medical professionals working around the clock to help cure him, and so many others, of this hideous virus.  

I will update you as information becomes available.  At the request of Mr. and Mrs. Lewinger, please send all good wishes to me, and I will pass them on.  

In other very sad news, our Assistant Basketball Coach, Dave Edwards, passed away on Monday.  Coach Dave has had several health issues this past year, none of which were Corona related.  Please keep the Edwards family in your prayers during this time of grieving.  

At times like these, when the world seems to be upside down, when our lives are completely out of routine, and perhaps out of our control, we typically come together to help each other through, to mourn, to pray, to hold each other close.  It is a particular sadness that we are unable to do that now, when we need it most. I wish I could throw open the doors of our beloved TMLA right now and have us all help each other through these dark days, but I can’t, not yet.  Instead, know I hold each of you in my heart and prayers each and every day.  Please, be well.  Be good to yourselves and each other. Pray often, do your school work, wash your hands. 

I look forward to the day when we can see each other and I can welcome you home.

My best,

Ann O’Hagan-Cordes


Friday, March 13th 2020

While we do not have any cases of the virus here, we feel it is in the best interest of all to shift to Remote Learning in order to keep everyone as safe as possible. Therefore, we will officially end in-person classes today, Friday, March 13th.  The process for Remote Learning will be as follows:

  • Students have all been added to a respective Google Classroom for each of their sections. If a student is not a member of a class, she needs to reach out to her teacher(s) as soon as possible.
  • Remote classes will follow the regular cycle day and class time. Students would be required to attend class for the duration of the time period i.e. A day, period 1, 8:30-9:15 – Math class. Virtual instruction will be given by the teacher; students will be asked to respond to questions, prompts, quizzes, and the like through the class for each class, each day.  
  • Attendance will be taken and sent to the Main Office portal; we will keep these records as they will count for report card and transcript purposes.
  • Remote Learning days will count toward our 180 school days’ sessions
  • If a student is ill, parents are asked to contact us via email attendance@tmla.org or by calling the Main Office at 718.297.2120
  • If, at some point, we have an infected member of our community, we will follow the protocols established by the Department of Health and you will be notified 

We will have Professional Development on Monday, March 16th, and Tuesday, March 17th for Faculty and Staff.  We will begin Remote Learning on Wednesday, March 18th.   Wednesday will be E day.  Remote Learning will remain in effect until further notice.  

If a student is not in school today, Friday March 13th,  and needs to access her locker in order to work from home, she may come to school on Monday, March 16th between 8am and 12 noon.  The school building will be open on an abbreviated schedule from 8am – 12 noon Monday through Friday for as long as is permissible. 

Report Cards will be mailed home to those whose financial obligations are up-to-date. Teachers will be responsive to those with any academic concerns through email.

We will remain available to you through email throughout the duration of this suspension of in-person classes.  We thank you for your cooperation in this and all matters and pray all in the Mary Louis community remain healthy.