Last summer, following a six-month, international search, the St. Albans Governing Board named Jason Robinson the eighth headmaster of St. Albans. Currently the head of upper school and assistant head of school for academics at Princeton Day School in Princeton, N.J., Robinson will assume his new position on July 1, 2018.
Raised in Roanoke, Va., Robinson attended public school until fifth grade, when his mother, a former French teacher, encouraged him to apply to the local independent school North Cross. From there, he went on to receive a B.A. in philosophy from Washington and Lee, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.A. in government from the University of Virginia, where he served as chair of the Honor Committee. After receiving a J.D. from Stanford Law School, Robinson held a judicial clerkship with the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, in Baltimore, Md., and practiced corporate law at D.C.’s Covington and Burling, where he met his wife, Olinda Arias Robinson. In 2004, he left the legal profession to begin a career in education, first at the Landon School in Bethesda, Md., where he taught government and a humanities course that spanned English, history, art, philosophy, and cultural studies, and he coached basketball and baseball. He then went on to teach history, politics, constitutional law, and ethics at the Lawrenceville School, in New Jersey, where he chaired the Interdisciplinary Studies Program; chaired the Discipline and Honor committees; coached basketball, baseball, and golf; and served as a housemaster, living with Olinda and their two daughters in a student residence in the school’s historic House System.
In 2013 he was named head of upper school at Princeton Day School, and in 2015 his duties expanded as he added the title assistant head of school for academics, responsible for the development, assessment, and coordination of the academic program for one thousand students in prekindergarten through grade twelve. Jason and his wife, Olinda, have two daughters: Francie, a junior at Dickinson College, and Abigail, a sophomore at the University of Richmond. In a conversation this spring, Robinson reflected on his schooling and career, education today, the teachers who inspired his passion for education, and his belief in the potential of independent schools to transform lives.
On your visits to St. Albans this past year, did anything special strike you?
Jason Robinson: When I visited in December, I had the pleasure of beginning the day with Fred Chandler and experiencing the wonderful tradition of greeting the boys outside the Lower School as they start their day.
I love that St. Albans begins each day with this humanizing ritual, warmly greeting the boys and teaching them from an early age the importance of civility and community. When I was an undergraduate at Washington and Lee, we had a similar custom called “the speaking tradition,” where students and professors always exchanged a simple but respectful greeting when passing one another on campus. It was a small gesture, but it shaped the moral ecology of the school in profound ways.
What struck me about St. Albans as I greeted each Lower School boy on that December morning was how fully the boys have embraced the norms and values of the school. It was one of those special moments where you see the mission of the school imprinted on the hearts and minds of each student.