Meredith Myall Essalat ‘98, M.Ed., has been appointed as the new head of school of Notre Dame Belmont. She will assume office in July.
“I’m thrilled to return to my alma mater as the new head of school,” said Essalat, the current head of school at Mission Dolores Academy in San Francisco. “My main goal when working with young women is to empower them. I want each student to have confidence in her inner voice and learn how to be bold enough to accomplish her dreams in this world.”
Prior to her role at Mission Dolores, Essalat taught middle school language arts and was the middle school dean of academic curriculum at Nativity School in Menlo Park. She also is the author of the popular book, The Overly Honest Teacher: Parenting Advice from the Classroom, which was released in 2020 by The Collective Book Studio.
“I’ve had the good fortune of assuming a variety of roles within the educational spectrum over the past 17 years,” Essalat noted. “All of those roles introduced me to varied aspects of the academic community—fundraising, alumni cultivation and school leadership. Each role has given me the empathy to relate to students, parents, alumni and board members.”
Essalat’s optimism and positive energy is contagious. In addition to being proud of NDB’s strong academics, she stressed the importance of the school's values-based program for women that includes campus ministry opportunities, student-led liturgies, and an overall atmosphere of inclusion, diversity, respect, compassion and spirituality.
“As an educator who has built my career in Catholic academia, I believe wholeheartedly in the necessity of faith formation for students of all ages and creeds,” Essalat said. “It’s crucial for young women to believe in something bigger than themselves.”
Essalat recognizes that being a teenager during these post-COVID pandemic days can be difficult. For the past two years, young people have relied on social media for social interaction, which has had its challenges.
“I want to help our students to reconnect with others and make a commitment to service learning,” she shared. “Our faculty and staff will help our students to serve the less fortunate and align themselves with city leaders so they can be voices of change. I believe in authentic communication. We want to empower our young women to be conversationalists . . . that means knowing how to look someone in the eye and have a strong sense of empathy.”
Essalat has fond memories of her own high school days at NDB. She enjoyed student government, NHS, CSF, Aquacades and being the yearbook editor.
“I found my voice at Notre Dame,” she remembered. “I came in as an introverted freshman and graduated as the class salutatorian. For me, the word ‘sisterhood’ symbolizes the family that is Notre Dame. My high school friendships are still strong to this day.”
Essalat was inspired by her NDB teachers, and she was determined to make a difference in education. After graduating from Menlo College, she obtained her teaching credential while working in alumnae relations at NDB.
Essalat is looking forward to returning to the NDB school community. She and her husband are the proud parents of a new baby girl.
“I cannot wait for my daughter to know what it means to be a Tiger—to grow up under the nurturing and empowering umbrella of the NDB community,” Essalat said.
NDB Board of Directors Chair Tim Fox was delighted to hear that Essalat is returning to lead NDB as the new head of school.
“Meredith is living proof that a Notre Dame education creates women who lead," he added. "We're very grateful that the hard work of the Search Committee allowed us to consider three highly qualified finalists. We have confidence that Meredith's background in Catholic education, combined with her passion for Notre Dame, will enable us to continue to provide extraordinary school experiences for future generations of young women. Meredith’s vision will prepare our students for leadership roles in everything they choose to do.”