By Claire Walla
The interim head of the Ross School who will officially take over for current Head of School Michele Claeys when she leaves the position this July.
You’ve been in the admissions department at various private schools for many years, currently serving as dean of admissions and financial aid at Lawrenceville School in New Jersey. How easily do you see yourself transitioning into the role of interim head of school at Ross?
The things I did [as dean of admissions] — like changing the student composition and creating new summer programs to make it easier for new kids to transition into the school — those were systemic changes. I did these things in concert with lots of different issues, all really with the mind that I would eventually like to run a school one day.
What’s one of the challenges you think a head of school faces these days?
Understanding what kind of curriculum is needed today. If you want to train doctors, lawyers and businessmen, then you know what to do. But what if we’re talking about graduating the people who are going to invent the next version of the Internet, or — who knows — interplanetary travel? You’re going to need a different kind of education, one that’s not so focused on set boundaries.
What’s one specific task you’ll have to tackle when you officially come onboard at Ross in July?
The school is now 20 years old, so one of the first things we’ll be doing is looking at the next decade, hopefully the next 100 years. It’s time to think about how the school can become sustainable over time.
The second priority is the boarding program. It’s brand new, so we’re looking to figure out how that boarding program can grow.
With the whole world at your fingertips, where do you even begin?
Strategically, we look at areas around the world that have an interest in boarding schools and have elementary and middle schools that can [prepare] kids leaving them [for boarding school abroad].
I know there are currently a lot of students from China. Do you try to balance where the students come from?
There is a disproportionate number of students at Ross from China. But, for one thing, Ross has just introduced a Mandarin program K-12, so it was the school’s initiative to get some kids who speak Mandarin on the campus. The other thing is that China is the newest big market for boarding schools.
You’ve alluded to the fact that a lot of boarding schools are taking in a lot of Chinese students. But, are they doing more than just filling their beds? A lot of them aren’t. Because Ross has a mission to create a sense of globalism, Chinese history is an active part of the academic curriculum.
Just this February, 100 kids from Ross actually went to China for M-terms.
At the end of the school year you’ll officially make the move from New Jersey to Long Island. Are you excited to move to the East End?
Thrilled! I don’t want to get on that bandwagon of dissing New Jersey, but… I’m interested in being in a location that’s naturally beautiful [laughs]. The clean air, the sunshine — it’s paradise!