Inspired to Inspire: Notre Dame San Jose Welcomes New Head of School

Disciple Profile: Ashley Rae Mathis

In February of 2023, Notre Dame High School in San Jose named Ashley Rae Mathis as its next head of school, following in the footsteps of Mary Beth Riley who retired after 38 years.


What attracted you to Catholic education? What role did faith play in your path along the way?

Catholic schools have served and sustained communities for decades in the United States. Unique in mission, these institutions offer families superb academic programming bolstered by a legacy of faith. The principles of Christianity have been an integral part of who I am for most of life. To some degree, so has education. How fortunate am I to effectively fuse my two loves of God and education into a profession? I am beyond grateful!

How did having educator parents impact and continue to impact you?

Growing up with two educators gave me a front-row seat to this impactful profession. For decades, I shared the joy that my parents, Raymond and Beverly Mathis, had for each child they encountered. Not solely the children assigned to their classrooms or those on the basketball team, but those that lived in our neighborhood, those that struggled in the inner city, those that needed to be seen. They truly modeled God’s in Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.”

When have you been the most challenged as an educator and administrator?

The COVID pandemic undeniably challenged most professionals. Arguably, educators were significantly impacted. In addition to working to meet the needs of children, academically and emotionally, I was working to support and motivate faculty and staff. Additionally, I founded and launched Ursuline Academy’s first Diversity Equity and Inclusion course. The uncertainties of COVID amidst the various social injustices occurring in the United States, made this a critical time. However, I rested in my faith during that season, and as usual, God prevailed.

When have you been the most inspired as an educator and administrator?

Each day I am inspired by students, particularly young women. They are strong, fervent in their beliefs, organically compassionate, and uniquely talented. My decision to join the NDSJ community was effortless after meeting the young women at Notre Dame. They are confident, faith-forward change agents.

How do you intend to use your teaching and administrative skillset at NDHS?

It is a privilege to continue the incredible work executed by Mary Beth Riley. My diversified experience in school management, my expertise in Catholic education, my adoration for Christ, and my fervent desire to cultivate young women of faith, prime me to not only lead, but advance NDSJ. I hope to model and operationalize a community focused on influential, spiritual, and professional leadership. I recognize that to succeed in this capacity, one must be an effective communicator, results driven, fortuitous in relationship building, and truly passionate about families.

How do you feel your Faith has and continues to transform you as a disciple of Christ?

I am most elated to serve as the incoming Head of School at Notre Dame San Jose. However, my first and foremost life goal is to be a fervent follower of Christ. To that end, my personal faith formation is a priority. Being an active church member, daily prayer, and scripture reading is imperative to me. I consider myself a servant leader; one who strives to reflect God’s goodness. As the next spiritual leader at NDSJ, I will continue to cultivate my own faith as I encourage others to do the same.

A daughter of educators, Ashley Rae identified early in her career a goal of leading a faith-based school community. She was a kindergarten teacher in her hometown of Las Vegas, then served roles in recruiting and enrollment at the University of Nevada-Reno (her alma mater), USC, and the Milken Community School in Los Angeles. Her varied background also includes three years as a recruiting coordinator for international consulting firm Bain & Company. Ashley Rae has participated in all areas of school administration, from enrollment to faculty hiring, budget management, and curriculum design at the Catholic college-preparatory school Ursuline Academy, in Dallas, Texas. Her new role starts in July of 2023.

¡Lee este artículo en español! (Spanish Language Version)