October 25, 2017
Dear Lowell Community,
It has been my great privilege to serve as Lowell’s head of school for the past decade—a time of remarkable growth that has sprung from the strong foundation laid by those who came before and made possible by the commitment and diverse contributions of every member of the Lowell community. I am writing now to inform you that my tenure at Lowell will come to an end with my retirement as of June 30, 2019. I want to let you know how grateful I am for the privilege of leading Lowell and say how excited I am to share with all of you the next two years of growth in this extraordinary school community.
I’ll tell you a little about my vision for retirement near the end of this letter, but first, I want to reflect on my time at Lowell—the past decade and the two years before us. With full heart and almost every bit of my waking hours for the past ten years, I have tried to help Lowell have the most powerful present possible while leading us into a strong and always promising future. In this moment, I believe Lowell’s present is stronger than it has ever been, and the path to an even more promising future is clear and compelling. That future will include embracing a new head and will benefit from all the possibilities that new leadership will bring.
From the school’s beginnings to this day, Lowell’s roots in Haim Ginott’s philosophy of respect for children have been well fed and nurtured. One constant has been that Lowell’s mission—“to create an inclusive community of lifelong learners in which each individual is valued and respected”—is central to and comes alive in everything we do. Another constant has been that we, all the members of the Lowell community, seek to honor this mission in ways uniquely appropriate to our particular roles—students, teachers, parents, administrators, staff members, alums.
The students were what first drew me to Lowell. I was especially struck by how engaged and articulate the children I encountered were, by how they clearly felt respected and by how respectfully they presented themselves. I was struck by the quality of their questions and their creativity. As an art lover, I was struck by their incredibly strong art work—not simply by a few, but by whole groups. This was the first hint I had of the extraordinary scaffolding that our faculty provides so that each child achieves.
In fact, the faculty, staff, and administrators at Lowell are among the strongest and most committed that you will find in independent schools. Collectively, we have set a high bar for ourselves—to make our mission real in all we do and in how we seek to do it. I am extremely proud of our efforts to come to know each child well, to respond to each child as a deeply valued individual, and to help children grow into their very best selves while developing in their understanding of others in their community and the larger world beyond. I am also so very pleased that even as we have grown in scope and added the accompanying academic rigor, Lowell remains a school where there is much joy, as well as plenty of time to play and explore, and where the love of learning is palpable.
I look forward to the next few years as we seek to refine and document what makes the education at Lowell School so important in our community, our nation, and the world. I believe we are important because we educate in a way that is truly making the world a better place, one child at a time. A strong example of this is our ongoing work redesigning the social studies and humanities curricula, ensuring that they are carefully integrated with our schoolwide themes of identity, diversity, and community, our grade level essential themes, and the Teaching for Tolerance Social Justice Standards. It is just one example of the way our unique curriculum supports students in developing the vast array of skills necessary for their future success, and doing so in a way that promotes empathy, an understanding of equity and inclusion, and the efficacy that comes from a growth mindset.
Throughout my time at Lowell, I’ve been particularly blessed by strong, generous, and gracious parent support—from Board members, LPC officers, and countless volunteers—without which Lowell simply would not be the success that we are. At the top of the list, I have been incredibly fortunate to have had remarkable, committed Board chairs whose leadership has been central to Lowell’s growth and success. Eve Howard, who chaired the Search Committee that brought me to Lowell, was subsequently my first Board chair. Her clear, calm thinking was indispensable as she helped me become a head of school for the first time. The line-up that followed is impressive: Ann Kappler, Jennafer Kwait, Jay Rapp, Jess Rosenbaum, and Liz Steinglass.
They have provided exemplary leadership to Lowell’s hard-working Board, have contributed in their own unique ways to my professional growth, and have teamed with me and the administrative team to help Lowell be the engaging, caring school it continues to be. I am deeply grateful for the part each Board chair has played in my Lowell experience and even more grateful for what that has meant for Lowell students and their families. On a personal level, I particularly want to thank Liz Steinglass for her wise and warm support as I have reflected on my journey and Lowell’s journey through this period of transition in our life together.
I plan to continue to work very hard with our Board and the administrative team on the financial front to ensure Lowell’s sustainability now and into the future. Over the past decade, we have collectively grown our financial resources each year, both through the Annual Fund and the yearly Auction for Financial Assistance. The endowment has also grown because of the generosity of our graduating classes and other dear friends of Lowell who have been faithful to this effort.
I want to thank all of you who have given so generously of your time, money, and expertise. This support has been essential to providing our leading-edge program with outstanding faculty and excellent facilities. Our continued success depends on all of us continuing to work together for this school we hold near and dear to our hearts.
I also ask that all of us continue to work on “creating an inclusive community.” I am excited that we are focusing on gender this year and developing a clear, just, and supportive gender policy. I am excited about the possibilities created by the new Families of Students of Color’s affinity group. And, I am excited to see how enthusiastic middle schoolers are about their new seminars—Cultural Affairs and Perspectives; Constitutional Law; Identity, Rights and Power; Activism through Service Learning; and Global Affairs and Perspectives. We have done so much, and there is more to be done to ensure an enduring legacy of strong diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We have strengthened our roots and spread our branches as we have grown, never losing sight of Lowell’s mission and philosophy. A good steward protects, but great stewards build on strength. I feel proud that, together, we have been great stewards of Lowell.
If this does not sound like the letter of someone announcing her retirement, it is because I can’t imagine retiring without helping to complete the compelling and essential work before us, work I will focus on even more clearly because of having set a date for the end of my tenure. There is much to look forward to in the next two years, watching work I care deeply about come to fruition and helping to establish an even stronger foundation for the next phase of Lowell’s life.
As far as my retirement goes, while it will be hard to imagine leaving Lowell, it is clear to me that the time is approaching for Charles and me to embark on our next life adventure as elders in the human community. It is time for me to shift my priorities to my family, my health, and other interests. One vision we are exploring is the possibility of settling in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the state where Charles was born. We dream of more time for me to devote to painting, reading, tending chickens, volunteering, and perhaps doing a bit of teaching; and for Charles to have more time for the poet in him, even while he continues to be an international voice for peace, justice, and healing. We dream of more time to support our children and grandchildren and more time to explore new and unexpected dimensions of being lifelong learners. I’ll keep you posted as our plans take shape. And, once I’ve retired, Charles and I look forward to riding along in spirit and supporting Lowell as it continues to grow and thrive.
In the meantime, please know that I am yours with “clear eyes and full heart” right up until my last day. And more importantly, know that Lowell has always been held up by the community and leaders it attracts. You are Lowell.
Onward with gratitude and excitement,
Head of School