Dear St. Albans Family,
Now that I have reached the end of my first year as the headmaster of St. Albans, I have spent the early part of the summer reflecting on the journey I began in July of 2018. Olinda and I remain eternally grateful for the warm and generous welcome you have extended us, and I continue to feel blessed each and every day to be part of the story of this remarkable school community.
Thinking back to the first days after my arrival at St. Albans last July, I recall being excited but a bit apprehensive, worried about how the school would adapt to a new leader after the departure of such a long-serving and beloved headmaster like Vance Wilson. Leadership transitions can be challenging, even when everyone has the best of intentions. It is a testament to the resilience and generous spirit of St. Albans that the school found room in its heart both to honor Vance’s legacy and to welcome my family and me in such an embracing way. St. Albans came to feel like our “home” very quickly, and that is because of all of you.
Of course, the year also came with challenges. As a new headmaster, I was tested in ways I could never have imagined. But I hope I grew as a leader through these challenges and helped the school I have come to love grow as a community by the way we addressed them. I spoke with the boys in my opening homily in September of 2018 about my vision of a “moral brotherhood” based on “care, conscience, and civility.” At every moment this past year, we tried to meet the challenges placed before us in ways that honored these principles. The work is never complete. Abraham Lincoln, in one of my favorite passages, speaks of approaching life “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.” If we continue to summon that combination of resolve and humility, I believe our future will be even brighter than our past.
I am proud not only of the way we met the challenges placed before us in 2018-19, but of the many conversations and initiatives we advanced in the midst of a very complicated year when so much time was necessarily devoted to the important investigative process we undertook and brought to completion at the end of June. It would have been all-too-easy in the midst of such a year to postpone other important conversations. But we pressed forward, determined to approach the investigation into our past with the care and humanity it required, while also thinking ambitiously about our future. We were invited to join two transformational programs at the University of Pennsylvania (the Penn Teaching Fellows Program and the Penn Center for the Study of Boys and Girls Lives). We created the school’s first dean of community life and director of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We set a new record with Annual Giving, had another remarkable year in student admissions and faculty hiring, celebrated one of the finest senior classes in the history of the school, and began work on our next five-year strategic plan.
As I stood in the Little Sanctuary and National Cathedral during the final days of the school year honoring the achievements of our boys, welcoming our 50th Reunion class back to St. Albans, and saying farewell to our wonderful graduating seniors, I was reminded again of what a rare and special privilege it is to be part of this school community. Thank you for your trust and faith in my leadership and for continuing to believe in the promise of our school.