If I asked you to use three words to best describe your Head of School would they include, “Empathy, Educator & Leader”?Of the 1400 + independent schools in the United States how many Heads do you know who could be defined by these words? For the past 20 years I’ve had a front row seat quietly observing one of the best in the business. I’ve watched this individual take the helm of a highly regarded girl’s boarding and day school, and significantly enhance its stature.
I’ve witnessed firsthand what it means to lead a school through one of the worst recessions since the great depression, all the while reassuring the community that conservative financial practices were being adhered to. I watched the head respond to the national tragedy of 9/11, discovering in its aftermath that one of our own student’s parents was lost forever that fateful day the towers collapsed. I’ve seen this Head suffer personal loss yet continue to rally the school on.
Leadership is about making tough decisions that are best for the community. As a faculty spouse, parent, and on-campus family member, I’ve seen this Head make the difficult decisions that were required to lead. As an educator, first and foremost, this Head has worked exceptionally hard to ensure that the very best faculty were hired and provided with the ideal resources.
Over the years I’ve heard this Head give countless opening of school addresses to welcome students and families back to campus. This past September he urged each student to make the year a “singular year” that would be about what they had achieved and the successes and failures they would visit along the way.
I’ve often heard this Head use the word “stewardship” to describe his role as Head of School. Garrison Forest School has been both blessed and honored to have such an outstanding steward at the helm for the past 20 years. Peter O’Neill will leave a lasting legacy of strong and decisive leadership to the entire Garrison Forest community. For his work, his empathy, his passion as an educator and his tireless leadership we thank him for all he has done to make this community a better one.
Jonathan Oleisky is the President of Kalix Communications