by Janet Durgin, Head of School
Although the end of the school year—and thus, the beginning of my retirement—is still some months away, I’ve begin the process of clearing out my office, which holds an accumulation of books, papers, and photos from my twenty years here… and the twenty years of teaching and administering at Northfield Mount Hermon prior to that. Michele Martin, our librarian, has found good homes for cartons of books on schools, leadership, and educational theory. I’m keeping the poetry as well as “quelques petits bouqins” (little books) remaining from my years teaching French.
Parler et convaincre, (the little book you see in this photo) means to speak and to convince. While this “bouqin” was intended to help French students develop compelling syntax, the title fits quite well into the job of Head of School; there is a lot of talking required, from the welcoming words at an event, to explaining decisions about school closure, to the deeply sad moments when we have experienced loss in our community.
Ecouter, to listen, is clearly more important… and so essential if you’re going to have anything worth saying! Our new Head of School, Tucker Foehl, knows that deep listening will be foundational to his first year at Sonoma Academy and he and I have begun regular weekly conversations about everything SA, soup to nuts.
These weekly calls are first and foremost about opening a channel of communication between me and Tucker, an open discussion that allows him to ask questions, as well as to begin the transfer of knowledge that will ensure a seamless transition. He is eager to absorb it all and a quick study. Our conversations will cover everything from marketing to enrollment, finance to operations, program and plans for our new performing arts center, and everything in between. But before these calls even began, I, and the admin team have been preparing for the transition by creating troves of files organized around operational priorities, with links to all relevant documents, summaries of past strategic planning efforts and their impact, my annual goals and reports I make to the board every year concerning progress against goals, and more in order to help Tucker hit the ground running when he officially begins his tenure as Head of School this summer.
The Board of Trustees established a Head of School Transition committee immediately after Tucker was hired to ensure a smooth transition and to help Tucker and his family as they prepare to start their new life here in Sonoma County. The co-chairs of that committee—Bridget Twomey (Will ‘18, Madeline ‘?) and Mary Felton (Kid names Here)—have also been traveling to Sacramento regularly to meet with Tucker and his wife, Angela, who have been exploring the schools and neighborhoods in our area as their move to Sonoma County becomes a reality. The Board is working on a set of goals for Tucker’s first year which will be shared with you during the summer.
Last week at community meeting, I told the students that my remaining days here were now going fast. I said that I wanted to have conversations with as many of them as possible and asked them to stop by and say hello. I look forward to graduating with the rest of my senior class on June 5. My last day will be the end-of-year gathering for staffulty and trustees on June 10 (coincidentally my 68th birthday!).
Tucker will move into the office at the top of the stairs on Monday, June 15. It will have been freshened with new paint and furniture, the shelves ready to receive his books. I told our students that were going to love Tucker and he would love them and the school. In one of our recent conversations, Tucker told me that he was very aware that he was being passed something precious.
I couldn’t agree more and am eager to share more updates about the transition with you throughout the remainder of this school year.