November 16, 2018
Dear Lab School Community,
Nearly a decade ago I stepped onto the campus of The Lab School of Washington to begin an exhilarating chapter in my life as your head of school. I was fully aware that I was committing myself to the school’s philosophy that was the brilliant conception of its founder Sally Smith. And I recognized that, of equal importance, the school needed to be responsive to a new century of thinking. I came to Lab believing that, with some adaptation, Sally’s philosophy would well serve children of this century and Lab School would continue to be a forerunner in educational practices. Having worked with students with learning differences for more than 20 years, I knew that I would be at home with and inspired by the students of Lab. I was eager to take on this exciting challenge.
What I did not project was how energizing and rewarding this work would become as I came to know and collaborate with all of you. I soon discovered that the school is endowed with many, many deeply invested adults across the community — board members, administrators, faculty, clinicians, staff, parents, alumni families, friends and donors — an invaluable asset for a new leader.
For ten years, my days have been filled with a sense of privilege, urgency, and joy. Lab’s mission is compelling — who wouldn’t be committed to giving the lifeline of learning to read, write, or solve mathematical equations to a child and, in turn, building the self-esteem that transforms a life? Even in the midst of the tests of leadership, I have never lost my love of the work to be done.
For all these reasons, it has been difficult to imagine the time when I would no longer be making my short, daily commute down Reservoir Road to The Lab School of Washington; however, after much reflection, I shared with Bill Tennis, Chair of the Board, that I would be resigning as head of school as of June 30, 2020. I am communicating this decision now to allow the school sufficient time to search for new leadership.
Happily, with a year and a half of lead time, I will have many months ahead to work with faculty and staff to implement the initiatives related to literacy; diversity, equity, and inclusion; the arts; the facilities master plan, with special attention to the theater and Foxhall lease; financial aid; student progress reporting; enrollment management; and technology. These ongoing initiatives are already benefitting individual students and the community at large. Capitalizing on our momentum, I plan to lead the community to the finish line of having thoughtfully designed programs, tools, and facilities that lay the groundwork for a future of innovation and growth.
Sally Smith gave us a philosophical foundation that has served our students well for 50 years; we can expect the school to remain well-grounded during this time of change in leadership. The school is richly endowed with a faculty and staff devoted to the mission. Our current and prospective students will continue to receive an excellent education from the most talented and passionate teachers and related service clinicians, and I will continue to work with both alacrity and dedication to answer the needs of every child. Furthermore, I will join with the Board of Trustees to ensure that you and The Lab School community experience a seamless transition to new leadership.
I am deeply indebted to the students who attend Lab. They have taught me that the key to a valuable education is the art of creating a sense of the possible for young minds, and that this is best accomplished at a school that is mission driven, as nimble as our fast-paced world demands, and staffed with the matchless expertise you find at The Lab School of Washington. In the months ahead, I will close my chapter at Lab with a heightened appreciation for my great fortune to have been the leader of such a progressive, imaginative and caring community with students who will for evermore be held in my fondest regard and highest esteem.