Dear St. Albans Family:
I am delighted to announce that Dr. Samuel Schaffer has agreed to serve as the next Head of Upper School, a role he has filled in an interim capacity since last July.
I knew when Dr. Labaree stepped down last summer that we were fortunate to have someone with such skill, integrity, and knowledge of our community to step into this interim role; and indeed Sam has surpassed our expectations, engaging fully in every aspect of Upper School life — bringing a broad vision, extraordinary attention to detail, and a joyful spirit to work every day, along with an unwavering commitment to the well-being of every boy in our community.
When we began thinking about the ideal attributes we were seeking in our next Upper School Head, it became clear that Dr. Schaffer possessed all of them in abundance. Not a week went by this fall when a colleague did not stop by my office to say how much admiration they had for his leadership and how much they hoped he would be considered as our next Upper School Head. His appointment is a reflection of the many talents he possesses, the respect he enjoys among colleagues and students, and the importance of stability in leadership that I believe is best for our school at this moment in time.
A Morehead Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Sam taught and coached for a year at Groton before coming to St. Albans in 1998, where he immediately met with success. In only his second year, the senior class awarded him the John F. McCune Prize for Teaching.
In 2004, Sam left St. Albans to pursue a graduate degree in history from Yale, where he wrote his dissertation on Woodrow Wilson’s generation and the South from 1884-1920. After receiving his Ph.D. in 2010, Sam was named the Cassius Marcellus Clay Postdoctoral Associate for Yale’s Department of History and the Gilder-Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. While at Yale, Sam taught American studies and history and received Yale’s Prize Teaching Fellowship. From 2007 to 2011, he served as a fellow and coordinator at Yale’s McDougal Graduate Teaching Center, organizing workshops for teachers across disciplines.
In 2012, he returned to St. Albans as assistant (later associate) dean of faculty, partnering with Sherry Rusher to hire, retain, mentor, and support the professional development of all our teachers. In his sixteen years at St. Albans, Sam has also taught history, coached varsity football and basketball, served as head of the dorm, sat on the Teaching and Learning Committee, represented the faculty on the Honor Council, directed the Penn Teaching Fellows program, and served as assistant director of college counseling. In addition to receiving the McCune Prize for Teaching, Sam has been awarded the Hall-Hoffman Teacher-Coach Award, the John C. Davis Award, and the Headmaster’s Extra Mile Award.
This fall Sam has been omnipresent — welcoming boys on Senior Circle each morning, working with the Student Council, offering prayers at lunch, addressing assemblies and zoom parent meetings, sharing weekly updates with faculty, applauding every arts performance, cheering on the Bulldogs, and teaching Form V United States history. In a difficult year, he has been flexible, compassionate, and forward thinking, always striving to preserve as much of the in-person St. Albans experience as possible.
I am deeply grateful to Sam for what he has accomplished this past year and look forward to working with him in this role in the years ahead. Please join me in thanking him for taking on this position.