Catholic, Independent Elementary Schools Serving Chicago’s Children Since 1876

Welcome from Head of Schools

An education for the head and the heart, second to none among Chicago schools

Founded in 1876 as the Academy of the Sacred Heart for Girls, and in 1935 adding Hardey Preparatory for Boys, Sacred Heart Schools are independent, Catholic elementary schools that serve 700 children in kindergarten through 8th grade. Rooted in the history and traditions of the Society of the Sacred Heart, our schools are committed to academic excellence in a diverse and inclusive Christian community.

Our mission is inspired by the spiritual ideal and work of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, who first articulated her educational vision in 1800. Not only did she seek to give youth an exceptional academic foundation, but also she endeavored to inspire students who would rebuild, renew, and transform society wherever they lived. Today, this mission continues here on Sheridan Road and in all 24 Sacred Heart Network schools across the United States and Canada, as well as many more around the world.

Sacred Heart is a proud member of the National Association of Independent Schools, which affirms our dedication to excellence in academic instruction across all grades. Our low student:teacher ratio—9:1—reflects our commitment to providing a learning environment that is both challenging and supportive to all types of learners. Our belief in the effectiveness of single-sex classrooms, beginning in first grade, further illustrates our focus on the holistic development of each child as an individual.

Dedicated to the education of both the head and the heart, we honor our heritage as schools in the Roman Catholic tradition by providing students with a strong background in religion, morality, and civic responsibility. Sacred Heart also believes that a diverse community benefits all its members by providing everyday opportunities to learn from one another. Sacred Heart families represent dozens of nations, faiths and racial or ethnic backgrounds. Approximately 20% of our student body enrolls with the help of financial aid. All God’s creation—each student, family, graduate and staff member—truly contributes to who we are.

St. Madeleine Sophie used the term Cor Unum, or One Heart, to describe her vision. More than 150 years after her passing, we remain a teaching and learning community based on faith, intellect, and love. I invite you to get to know us online and in person. Walk through our doors, feel the energy, spirit and tradition of Sacred Heart. I know you will understand why a young person’s journey of the heart and mind here on Sheridan Road is so profound.


Nat Wilburn
Head of Schools

Nat wilburn,
Head of schools

Nat Wilburn has been Head of Schools since July 2009, after serving five years as principal. Mr. Wilburn has more than 20 years of experience as a Sacred Heart educator both in Chicago and San Francisco. He is "excited and humbled to provide leadership to the Schools in the mission of St. Madeleine Sophie."

Mr. Wilburn holds a Masters of Education from Loyola University Chicago, a Masters of Divinity from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee.

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