- Written by Brennan Murray
- Published: 26 June 2013
What is your professional background?
I was hired to serve as a seventh and eighth grade counselor at DMS in the fall of 1997, after having completed a master's degree in counseling psychology at Boston Col- lege and a year-long practicum at the Pierce School in
Brookline. Three years later, I became assistant principal at DMS and went back to school to earn a master's degree in school leadership at Boston College. After three years as assistant principal at DMS, I took that same position at Alden School. (This was the year when Grade five moved from DMS into the new addition at Alden.) I became principal at Alden School the following year.
How long have you been the principal of the Alden School?
I'm completing my ninth year as Alden's principal.
What has been the most rewarding part of your work?
I'm most proud of the relationships that I enjoy with my students, their families, and my colleagues. Working together, we're able to help youngsters grow academically, emotionally, and socially, which is enormously rewarding.
In your time at the Alden School, what was the most difficult challenge you faced?
Schools are extensions of the world, so are in no way immune from sad events. During my nine years as principal, we've endured the death of a student, the deaths of several students' parents, and quite a number of national tragedies - some of them natural (like Hurricane Katrina); others, manmade (such as the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut). All of these have been difficult, but we've gotten through them and helped the students to get through them, by working together.
What was your most enjoyable moment as principal?
Honestly, I have really, really enjoyable moments every day. I love seeing kids do things that they didn't think they could do, whether those things are academic, artistic, musical or physical. Whether they've just written a fantasy story that's impressed all of their friends, or mastered the round off that they've been practicing at every recess since March, it's great to witness - and to share - in the kids' pride and enthusiasm.
Where’s the next stop?
Having (finally!) earned my PhD, I hope to teach aspiring teachers and administrators at the university level, and to engage in research about school effectiveness and educational change. I greatly enjoyed visiting other schools and districts to learn about their experiences, as I completed my dissertation, and I look forward to doing a lot more of that sort of thing.
Now that you are moving on, what type of emotions are you feeling?
I'm starting to feel the sadness that comes with any major life change. I've had 16 great years in Duxbury and have had the privilege of working closely with really terrific kids, families and educators; I'm genuinely going to miss everyone. That said, I'm proud of the great work that we've done together and I know that Ms. Whitaker - who's been my partner at Alden for these past two years and who'll be succeeding me as principal - loves our school like I do, and will help it to become still better.
Outside of work, where is the most likely place to find you in Duxbury?
Friends and I occasionally leave our cars on the school campus and walk the Powder Point loop. The scenery and salt air are great tonics.
Do you have any summer hobbies?
I love to take my dogs to the beach in the morning, to play with my niece (who just turned three years old), and to read a lot. I'm not sure why, or even when I started doing it, but I've gotten into the habit of rereading a couple of books every summer: F. Scott Fitzgerald's “This Side of Paradise,” and Evelyn Waugh's “Brideshead Revis- ited.”
If you could leave Alden students with one bit of ad- vice, what would it be?
Every day since becoming principal, I've reminded students at the end of morning announcements, "Treat other people the way you want them to treat you, both through your words and through your actions." It's not always easy, even when you're forty, but if you do, you'll have few regrets.