Mary Claire Kasunic, Exposing Choices to Students, Not Defining Them

The Path to Higher Ed is a SchooLinks hosted podcast community that explores trending topics and issues in the area of college and career readiness. Our featured guests are pushing education forward by constantly learning from, innovating and applying their college and career readiness practices.



Mary Claire Kasunic, President of Oakland Catholic High School, joins us for a discussion about the mission-driven culture that is building women leaders of tomorrow. Mary is cognizant of her responsibility to help mold Oakland Catholic students into tech-competent, globally-minded adults. As a means to that end, she discusses the value of adopting an interdisciplinary approach to learning that emphasizes design thinking and experiential learning over specialization.





About Mary Claire Kasunic


As President of Oakland Catholic High School, Mary Claire Kasunic brings an impressive array of credentials and a long history with our school. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she graduated from Mount Saint Joseph Academy in 1980. From there, she pursued higher education at the University of Pittsburgh where she received her Bachelor of Arts in French with a concentration in translation and Spanish, and then, her Master degree in Education. Active in Sacred Heart parish in Shadyside, Mary Claire has also served as a volunteer, working for numerous activities and organizations over the years.


In 1992, Mary Claire joined the staff at Oakland Catholic High School as a French teacher. Since then, she has dedicated herself to advancing Catholic education in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, with special regard for the particular ministry of Catholic education for young women. Over the years, Mary Claire has provided insight and innovation from her various perspectives as a member of the faculty, a parent, a graduate of all female Catholic education, and a visionary for the mission of Oakland Catholic High School. She has served the school as the Chair of the Department of Modern Languages, the Director of the Joan of Arc Society of Scholars, the Director of Admissions, Interim Principal, and moderator of many extracurricular activities. Instrumental in developing Mission Forward, a 1:1 laptop initiative that has enhanced the curriculum and transformed education at Oakland Catholic High School, she is energized by the strength of the school’s academic program, engaged with the school community, and excited to collaborate with all constituents in establishing a vision for the next twenty-five years.


Mary Claire and her husband, Jon, currently reside in the city. They have raised four children and are proud grandparents of five. Mary Claire looks forward to continuing her efforts to promote Catholic education for young women via her work at Oakland Catholic High School.



About Oakland Catholic High School


As the premier and largest college preparatory school for young women in southwestern Pennsylvania, Oakland Catholic High School serves as an important regional asset. Educating students from forty-five school districts and eighty-seven parishes in five western Pennsylvania counties, the Oakland Catholic student body represents a broad base of cultures and faith traditions.


OC graduates have gone on to study at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities and almost 100 percent of its graduates attend their first- or second-choice college or university. Each graduating class of Oakland Catholic High School receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in academic scholarships to a variety of university programs. The school’s students are regularly recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and continually noted both locally and nationally for their academic accomplishments.


Excellence in athletics nicely complements the academic successes of our students. Competitors in over 17 different sports and recipients of numerous regional, state, and national titles in basketball, bowling, cheerleading, crew, fencing, and swimming, OC students take all performances seriously.


In 2001, President Emerita of OC, Mrs. Katherine D. Freyvogel, and the school’s Board of Directors felt it was important that the physical facilities match the excellence of the school’s programs and its students’ performance. A capital campaign and construction plan to enhance the physical facilities was spread over three phases.


Due to the efforts and support of families, alumnae, and benefactors, the physical facilities now encompass an expanded art wing, a fitness center, a welcoming dining hall, a state-of-the art gymnasium named the Donahue Pavilion, athletic rooms, common areas for the students’ comfort, new science labs, and a brand-new collaboration and research center. The entire campus is wireless and includes more classroom space than previously, DiNardo Lecture Hall, conference rooms, new Guidance and office space, and the beautiful Rhodora J. Donahue Chapel in honor of St. Joan of Arc that incorporates elements of the convent that stood on the same site for years.



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