Saturday, December 12, 2015


The private, girls' school that my daughters attended, and where I taught, has just named its next Head of school, a young alumna with a PhD* in War Studies from London University. Her specialty is counterterrorism. A former Navy flight officer, she has no background in education other than having been a student. In announcing their choice, the Search Committee referred to her stellar leadership skills. Well, maybe. But here she will be expected to lead a team of teachers who care most about reaching their students, not about systems, reporting for duty or keeping the school well-locked. It is an odd decision. The school has never shown a military inclination before.

Odd, but not unique.  Several years ago the boys' school down the road was faced with the retirement of a very successful Headmaster. The retiring Head, who also had a military background, had been an English professor (well, ok, it was at West Point). The new guy is also ex-military, with a degree in War Studies from St. Anthony's College, Oxford. His specialty is counterinsurgency. He took the job when he failed to get an anticipated promotion at the Pentagon. The school is just a place for him to catch his breath until he figures out how to get back in the army game. Not surprisingly, he's a disaster as a Headmaster.

The Headmistress will have the advantage of actually knowing the school and the local culture. The parents will be pleased that she's a Harvard grad. But she's only 37 and many of her former teachers are still on the staff.

My daughters and their friends are horrified, but I'm sure many of the richer, more socially connected families are thrilled to death.

*Ph.D. in AE, PhD in BE

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