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History of Transfiguration

Since 1832, the Transfiguration School has provided educational excellence to successive waves of immigrants and their children; first to the Irish and Germans, then the Italians and then the Chinese. Established by Father Felix Varela, the school served the newly arriving immigrants who were often poor and underprivileged, creating a melting pot of languages and cultures unique to Lower Manhattan. Throughout the decades, the Transfiguration School has not only survived, but has grown to be a beacon of education and a pillar of community development and cohesion.

Rooted in the Catholic tradition, the Transfiguration School focuses on nurturing the mind, body and spirit to develop thoughtful and responsible learners. For generations, the Maryknoll missionary order led the school and cultivated a family-centered environment. 191 years of graduates has produced many influential leaders, including Archbishop Patrick Cardinal Hayes, Judge Michael Corriero, and more.


In 2011, Transfiguration School was awarded National Blue Ribbon School status by the U.S. Department of Education. This distinction for academic excellence, leadership in teaching and commitment to building school culture within the larger community has become a symbol of educational excellence recognized nationally for both public and private schools.

In 2012, the Transfiguration School officially merged with the Maryknoll Transfiguration Kindergarten School making it the largest Catholic education institution in the area, from PreKindergarten3 through 8th grade.


In 2023, Transfiguration was once again a National Blue Ribbon awardee. The school continues to be a shining example of a dynamic community vested in the education of its youth. Currently, Transfiguration is the only remaining Catholic parish-based school south of Houston Street in lower Manhattan serving an engaged and dedicated community through its successful educational programming.

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