New Head of School Announcement

From the Board of Trustees

Dear Lowell Community,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am thrilled to announce that Donna Lindner will be Lowell’s next head of school beginning July 1, 2019.

Donna has more than 20 years of experience as an educator and leader in schools. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a deep commitment to progressive education and has distinguished herself as a curriculum leader and as an advocate for equity, justice, and inclusion. When she visited the school this fall, the response from our community was avid and warm. Faculty, staff, parents, and students described her as “thoughtful and wise,” “passionate about teaching,” “collaborative,” “a high-touch leader,” and “transformative.”

Donna comes to us from Agnes Irwin School in Rosemont, PA, where she has served as the head of the Lower School since 2007. Earlier in her career, Donna served in public schools as an elementary teacher and then as a reading specialist and assistant head of Lower School at The Haverford School in Haverford, PA. She earned her B.S. in early childhood education from the University of Maryland and her M.S. in reading, writing, and literacy from the University of Pennsylvania.

While at Agnes Irwin, Donna led the Lower School in revising and aligning curriculum across the disciplines and directed the school’s action research faculty groups. She also guided a process of re-visioning space use that resulted in the addition of a Lower School innovation center. She has advanced the values of diversity, inclusion, and equity as a facilitator for the National SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Project, as a local organizer and presenter at the NAIS People of Color Conference, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the NAIS Call to Action, a national think tank and advisory council on diversity.

The sixteen-month search process to identify Donna as our next head of school began with the support of consultants Doreen Oleson and Jerry Katz from RG175. Doreen and Jerry played a vital role in shepherding the Board in an organized and thoughtful process. They brought us a pool of highly qualified candidates and helped us to ensure full community participation.

During the Board’s extensive review and evaluation process, it was evident that Donna truly understands and evinces Lowell’s core values and that she possesses the vision and leadership skills to guide Lowell forward through the next phase of its evolution. She earned the enthusiastic support of the Search Committee, and the Board voted unanimously in favor of her appointment.

The Board wants to thank the entire Lowell community for playing a crucial role in this process. The Board benefitted from thoughtful feedback from faculty, staff, students, and current and past parents at Lowell, and we especially want to thank the administrative team, advisory committees, and everyone who took the time to meet with our finalists over the past two months. Your input was essential to the Board’s deliberations, and we are heartened by the overwhelming level of support that Donna received.

Please join us in welcoming Donna, her husband, Steven, and their two college-aged children, Sam and Sophia, to the Lowell family!

As we continue to celebrate Debbie’s legacy and her final year at Lowell, we look forward to sharing more specific transition plans for Donna after winter break. For now, let us all go into this season of thanks and goodwill secure in the knowledge that we have a strong new leader to spearhead Lowell’s trailblazing role in progressive education.

Marcie Bane
Chair, Lowell School Board of Trustees

Read the letter to the community from Donna.
 

Search Committee

List of 9 items.

  • Marcie Bane, Search Committee Chair

    • Chair of the Board (2018-2020) 
    • Chair-Elect of the Board (2017-2018) 
    • Chair of the Development Committee (2016-2018)
    Marcie is parent to Nino Imbroscio ’17, Mario Imbroscio ’21, and Paolo Imbroscio ’21. She has a Master of Arts in teaching.
  • Tracy Ballard

    • Chair of the Admissions Committee (2013-Present)
    • Vice Chair of the Board (2012-2013, 2016-2017)
    • President of the Lowell Parent Community (2010-2011)
    Tracy is parent to Laine Gorman ’17 and Ava Gorman ’19. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, a juris doctor, and an executive certification in nonprofit management.
  • Elaine Fitch

    • Trustee (2016-present)
    Elaine is parent to Max Fitch-Connelly ’21. She is the Managing Partner of Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch and sits on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Bar Association of DC.
  • Damian R. Jones

    • Trustee (2016-Present)
    Damian is parent to Lillian Jackson-Jones ’18. He is Head of Edmund Burke School and a trustee of the Association of Independent Maryland and DC Schools (AIMS).
  • Teresa Park

    • Trustee (2017-Present)
    Teresa is parent to Nicholas Hodgdon ‘25 and Alex Hodgdon ‘28. She is a litigator in private practice.
  • Kerianne Piester

    • Trustee (2017–Present)
    • Annual Fund Chair (2015–16)
    Keri is parent to Hope Wisor ‘15 and Tess Wisor ’16. She has a Master of Arts in political science and philosophy and is the Coordinator of Youth Ministry Programs at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church.
  • Jessica Rosenbaum

    • Immediate Past Chair the Board (2016-2018)
    • Chair of the Head Support and Review Committee (2016–2018)
    • Chair of the Board (2014-2016)
    • Chair of the Trustees Committee (2012-2016)
    Jess is parent to Jake ’17, Grady ‘19, and Ella ’22. She is a public interest attorney.
  • Liz Steinglass, ex officio

    • Chair of the Board (2016-2018)
    • Chair of the Development Committee (2014-2016)
    Liz is parent to Oliver Steinglass ‘10, Naomi Steinglass ‘15, and Amos Steinglass '19. Liz has a doctorate in education. 
  • Todd Wilson

    • Chair of the Communications Committee (2016-2018)
    Todd is parent to Jillian Wilson ’14 and Evan Wilson ’19. He has a doctorate in political science and is a foreign service officer at the US Department of State.

Contact Information

If you have questions or comments about the search process, please contact:

Search Committee Chair
Marcie Bane
marciebane1@gmail.com

RG175 Consultants
Jerry Katz
jkatz@rg175.com
Doreen Oleson
doreenoleson@gmail.com

Advisory Committees

Faculty-Staff Advisory Committee: Lisa Alfonso-Frank, April Greene, Lucas Kelly, Carolyn Law, Elly Porter, Lisa Powell, Sarah Smith, Natalie Stapert, Brian Stark, Iris Vargas

Student Advisory Committee: Asa Dorn, Isaiah Longstreth, Harper Lower, Lucy Miller, Mac Penniman, Kyriakos Psaromatis, Elise Robertson, Dylan Weber, Elias Weetjens

Parent Advisory Committee: Jim Agnew, Angela Arboleda, Adam Bobrow, Consuelo Campuzano, Jacqui de Gramont, Rashida Edmundson, Jennafer Kwait, Wendy McGrath, Howard Riker

Search Updates

List of 6 items.

  • Update from Search Committee Chair Marcie Bane 10/19/18

    Dear Lowell Community,
     
    The Search Committee has been overwhelmed with the depth and sincerity of the feedback on each individual finalist for the head of school position. This community truly loves Lowell School, believes in its mission, and wants the best for its future.
     
    The Search Committee has been tasked with considering an amazing pool of candidates, each with their own unique qualifications and experiences. During this process, the Search Committee has identified essential attributes for a head of school as expressed by our community:
     
    • A deep pedagogical understanding of progressive education, not just the study but the practice
    • A deep understanding of and passion for Lowell
    • The ability to lead and mentor an already strong leadership team, faculty, and staff
    • A demonstrated expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion
    • A vision for how to carry Lowell’s legacy of educational excellence into the future and the broader community
    • A commitment to and deep understanding of child development
     
    For the past six months, the Search Committee has met with the four finalists extensively and in different settings, held detailed discussions with their current and former colleagues, spoken with other references, evaluated their written submissions, and considered in great depth the qualifications of this amazing pool of candidates, each with their own unique talents and experiences. In the coming weeks, the Search Committee will be further considering the qualifications of each finalist, reviewing the feedback from our community, and undertaking additional discussions with on- and off-list references before making a recommendation to the Board of Trustees.  
     
    The Board will take into careful consideration all of the information gathered and input shared by all of our constituent groups in the evaluation of each candidate and ultimately select our next head of school.
     
    On behalf of the Search Committee, thank you for your dedication to this process.
     
    Marcie Bane
    Chair, Search Committee
    Chair, Board of Trustees
  • Update from Search Committee Chair Marcie Bane 6/2/18

    Dear Lowell Community,
     
    The Search Committee to find Lowell’s next head of school has been very busy this spring.
     
    In early April, the committee received a very strong pool of diverse candidates from our consultants, Doreen Oleson and Jerry Katz of RG175. The applicant pool represented sitting heads of school and division directors with a great depth of experiences and credentials.
     
    It was apparent in all of the submissions that each candidate understood and appreciated Lowell’s mission and philosophy and had deep roots in progressive education.
     
    In mid-April, the Search Committee met for a day-long session with Doreen and Jerry, who led us through the process of narrowing our large pool to identify the semi-finalists.
     
    On Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19, the Search Committee met with each semi-finalist in a round-robin of interviews. The committee broke into three groups, and each group spent 45 minutes with each candidate covering a wide range of topics such as leadership, management, educational philosophy, equity and inclusion work, hiring practices, finances, and school culture, to name just a few.
     
    After the interviews, the committee discussed each candidate at length and agreed upon a small group of highly-qualified candidates to proceed to the finalist stage. The finalists all bring a wide array of wonderful qualities, and each offered a range of fresh ideas and perspectives, as well as a boundless enthusiasm for Lowell and the mission ahead. The Search Committee ended our deliberations feeling hopeful and excited for Lowell and its future.
     
    Each finalist has been invited to attend a 2½ day session on campus in the fall. We will send a short bio to the community a few days before the arrival of each finalist. During those visits, the community will have the opportunity to meet with the candidates in both large and small groups. Your participation and feedback during these group sessions will be an invaluable part of the Board’s final determination about whom to select as the next head of school.
     
    In the coming months, the finalists will be notifying their own schools as we conduct further due diligence and check references. While the number of potential finalists and their names must remain confidential until the fall, I welcome any questions you may have as we work through the next steps of the process.  
     
    Thank you,
    Marcie Bane
    Chair, Head of School Search Committee
    Chair-Elect, Board of Trustees, Lowell School
  • Update from Search Committee Chair Marcie Bane 1/18/18

    Dear Lowell Community,

    Before winter break, a small team lead by our consultants from RG175, Jerry Katz and Doreen Oleson, drafted, edited, and finalized the position statement that is being used to recruit our new Head of School. The position statement was developed from information gleaned from printed and online materials, meetings during the November days of discovery, and the online survey results. Doreen and Jerry are now intently focused on the search for candidates. They have been encouraged by the early interest in Lowell's Head position. Next steps will be taken in the early spring when the search committee will begin the challenging process of identifying semi-finalist candidates.

    Sincerely,
    Marcie Bane
    Chair, Head of School Search Committee
    Chair-Elect, Board of Trustees, Lowell School
  • Letter from Search Committee Chair Marcie Bane 10/25/17


    October 25, 2017

    Dear Lowell Community,

    We are all tremendously grateful to Debbie Gibbs for her transformative leadership at Lowell and her unflagging dedication and enthusiasm over the last 11 years. While we are sad that Debbie's time at Lowell will be coming to a close, we are excited about the future and the process of identifying her successor. I am writing to let you know that as incoming Chair of the Lowell School Board of Trustees, I have been asked to chair the newly-formed Head of School Search Committee, which will work to find our next school leader to take the reins at Lowell for the 2019-2020 year.  

    As a sub-committee of the Board of Trustees, the Search Committee brings together individuals with a diverse set of experiences, backgrounds, and points of view to manage the search process, meet candidates, and ultimately make a recommendation to the full Board of Trustees. Joining me on the Search Committee will be Tracy Ballard, Elaine Fitch, Damian Jones, Teresa Park, Kerianne Piester, Jess Rosenbaum, Liz Steinglass (ex officio), and Todd Wilson. 

    The Board of Trustees has engaged the services of Resource Group 175 (RG 175) as its partner in the search. RG 175 is a leading independent school search firm. Doreen Oleson and Jerry Katz will work with us to help steer the search process and to recruit candidates. Doreen and Jerry are former, highly-regarded independent school heads with extensive experience in conducting searches for heads of school and other senior leaders for independent schools. We have been impressed by their commitment and experience working on issues of diversity with independent schools, and we are confident that you will find them to be a good fit for the values and culture of our school community.

    The process that we will employ will be inclusive, thorough, and professional. Doreen and Jerry will be visiting the school on November 14–16 and will spend time interviewing faculty, staff, administration, parents, and students. There will also be an on-line survey available for staff and parents to share their perspectives on Lowell and the goals for the school looking ahead to its future. Their objective in gathering this information will be to better understand the Lowell community and our shared values and goals to help identify candidates best suited for Lowell.

    As final candidates emerge late next spring or early next fall, we will hold open sessions for interested members of the Lowell School community to meet them and share their impressions with the Search Committee. The Search Committee will incorporate all of these opinions as it comes to a recommendation to the Board of Trustees. The Board will have the sole responsibility to make the final decision on whom to appoint as the next Head of School. We expect to be able to make an announcement about the outcome of this process early in the 2018-19 school year. Our new head will assume responsibilities on July 1, 2019.  

    We will continue to update the community regularly as we move forward. We invite your feedback and questions throughout the search. You can reach me at: marciebane1@gmail.com.
     
    As a current parent who is deeply committed to this institution, I am honored to serve Lowell School as a steward of this process. 
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Marcie Bane
    Chair, Head of School Search Committee
    Chair-Elect, Board of Trustees, Lowell School
  • Letter from Board Chair Liz Steinglass 10/25/17

    October 25, 2017

    Dear Lowell Community, 

    On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am writing to express our deepest appreciation of Debbie Gibbs and to acknowledge her plans to retire as of June 30, 2019.

    As a parent, trustee, and board chair, I have had the honor and pleasure of working closely with Debbie. I can personally attest to her extraordinary intelligence and wisdom, her rich understanding of learning and schools, and her tireless commitment to Lowell.

    Since Debbie was hired as Lowell’s fourth head of school in 2007, Lowell has grown in every way possible. Enrollment has increased to its highest level, primarily due to the addition of Lowell’s outstanding Middle School, which features a leading-edge curriculum and is housed in the gorgeous and purposefully designed Parkside building. Of course none of this would have been possible without the successful completion of Lowell’s record-breaking $3 million capital campaign, Building on Success.

    But Debbie’s accomplishments clearly extend well beyond the Middle School. Lowell’s Pre-Primary and Primary School students play every day on wonderful new playgrounds, designed to present an array of learning experiences. As in the Middle School, Pre-Primary and Primary School studies are organized around essential themes, which provide the foundation for a rigorous, integrated curriculum. From the Wonder Lab in Pre-Primary School to the clean-burning biochar stoves 8th graders build in Costa Rica, Lowell students are engaged in powerful STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning. Growth in the sports and music programs has been exponential and could not have been imagined when Debbie arrived.

    In addition to everything new that has flourished under Debbie’s leadership, Lowell’s commitment to its mission—“to create an inclusive community of lifelong learners in which each individual is valued and respected”—has only grown stronger. This is clearly evident in the school’s strategic plan for diversity, the school-wide essential themes of identity, diversity, and community, and the recently redesigned humanities curriculum, incorporating the Southern Poverty Law Center’s cultural competency and social justice standards.

    It is truly impossible to list all of Debbie’s accomplishments, so let me stop here and say simply that Debbie will leave Lowell in an incredibly strong position. She has steered the school through the broader financial and social turbulence of our time with a steady hand and a clear vision of what is best for children. There is no doubt that many talented and accomplished candidates will find Lowell appealing.
    Hiring a new head of school is perhaps the most important function of the board of trustees of an independent school. Since Debbie informed the board of her intentions, we have been planning a transition process. Shortly, you will receive additional information from Marcie Bane, who will be chairing the search committee.

    Lowell has many exciting days ahead. We look forward to having Debbie’s time and attention for another two years and to celebrating Lowell’s amazing growth during her tenure.

    With great appreciation, 

    Liz Steinglass
    Chair, Board of Trustees, Lowell School
  • Debbie Gibbs Announces Retirement 10/25/17

    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,

    Debbie Gibbs
    Head of School