Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Dear Field Community,
I am writing to share with you that after much reflection, I have decided to make this 2018-2019 school year my last year as Head of School at The Field School. I have had deep affection for Field since the day of my job interview at the old Wyoming Avenue campus back in 1990. It has been a life-changing and eye-opening experience to learn Field’s methods and approach to teaching, and a privilege to then be able to provide leadership in various capacities: coach, technology director, finance manager, associate head—and for these last 15 years—as Field’s second Head of School.
The timing of my departure at the end of the school year, my 29th, makes sense for me and my family and for Field. Our youngest son, Walt, will be graduating in June, and he will join his brother Carl (class of 2017) as a member of Field’s ever-widening community of alumni. My wife, Carrie, has been at Field since 1992 and has taught, coached, and led our signature internship program for 22 years. She and I will become empty-nesters next fall, and for us this is the appropriate time to pause, rest, reflect, and consider new adventures.
I believe this is also the right time for Field to bring in new leadership. Last week, we shared with the community Aude Sapere: The Field School Strategic Plan 2018, which sets an ambitious course forward for Field over the next 10 years. The development of the plan over the last 18 months incorporated the input of nearly 1,000 members of our community, and it is indeed a statement of the entire community’s shared values, vision, and commitment to better serve Field students and strengthen Field as an institution. I am confident that the next Head of School will benefit greatly from the plan and find that Field is both in a strong position and on an outstanding trajectory in continuing to provide a unique and cherished model for how to best teach kids and to create a welcoming environment that brings out the best characteristics of each individual.
My gratitude to the entire Field community runs deep. I am ever so grateful that when I interviewed as a 22-year-old college senior, Field’s founder, Elizabeth Ely, was willing to give me the opportunity to start teaching that next fall. And then to be invited 14 years later to be her successor in leading the school was a tremendous honor. My gratitude extends to all those who were supportive of the work we took on to steady and strengthen Field. The journey over these last 15 years has been exciting and challenging. The students and teachers who are at the heart of Field remain as talented and vibrant as ever. The school has grown in enrollment, facilities, and reputation. Field has matured, become financially strong, developed multicultural competence, and has nurtured a robust culture of philanthropy, all while remaining true to our mission and core values. Under the Board’s guidance, over these 15 years, the school has transitioned from founder-dependent to Board-led and community-held. All of these are things of which I’m proud and I will watch with admiration as Field as a school and a community continues to adapt, thrive, and stay true to its mission and values.
I am excited about this year ahead—the school’s leadership, the faculty and staff, and the direction of the school—as we proceed to implement the first year of our Strategic Plan. I am looking forward to seeing the class of 2019, our first class of “seven-year survivors” who were part of Field’s inaugural sixth grade class, graduate and launch to their next destination after Field. And I will give my all to supporting the Board, faculty, and staff in setting up Anne and The Field School for ongoing success.
With an abundance of respect and gratitude to you all,
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Dear Field Community,
With great appreciation for all that he has done for The Field School, I am writing to share with you that the Board of Trustees has accepted Dale Johnson’s decision to step down as Head of The Field School at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year after nearly three decades of dedication and commitment to the school.
The trajectory of Dale’s career from a young math teacher hired in 1990 by our founder, Elizabeth Ely, to Head of School beginning in 2004, has been marked by a long list of bold and highly successful initiatives. For the past 15 years as the Head of School, Dale has had a singular blend of passion, vision and creativity dedicated to the education and celebration of each student. The Field experience often feels organic and effortless, but it is anything but that. It required Dale’s constant focus and drive to maintain the essence of what makes Field special. As a result, everything about Field is deliberate and thoughtful, including its constant appetite for experimentation and ingenuity, creating space for spontaneity, bravery—and joy, a hallmark of Field.
Under Dale’s leadership, Field added a sixth grade and renovated and built out the Foxhall Road campus, making space for 50 additional students. Thanks to Dale’s stewardship, Field’s compelling curriculum and continuing commitment to small classrooms, combined with a talented and dedicated faculty and staff, a beautiful campus, and a reputation for inspiring students to achieve their full potential as engaged citizens of the world, has placed Field in a leading position among independent schools in the Washington, D.C. community. During his tenure at Field, Dale has taken a cherished dream, given it deep roots and a secure financial footing, and has helped launched a new bold and inspiring strategic plan to propel Field forward. With the 2018 Strategic Plan in place and the school well established for the future, Dale believes that it is time to consider new adventures. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I thank Dale for the important and lasting contributions he has made to our school.
Looking forward, as a first step, we are pleased to announce that Anne Foley, current Associate Head of School for Academics, will be our Interim Head of School for the 2019-2020 academic year. The Board is working with Anne to redefine her role for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year to facilitate a smooth transition as the search for a new Head of School begins. Anne is uniquely qualified to lead the school during this period of change and we are grateful to her for her commitment to the school. In addition to being a 1996 Field graduate, Anne has been, since 2002, a Field teacher, Assistant Head of the Middle School, Head of Grade 10, Academic Dean, and Associate Head of School.
The process for finding a new permanent Head (only the third Head of School since Field was founded in 1972) will be deliberate and thorough. The Board will soon establish a search committee to select and work with a leading national search firm that will inform the process and provide professional expertise in recruiting for independent schools. Voices of all constituencies will be heard in this process and we are committed to keeping the school community informed of the details as they unfold.
In closing, here
is a link to Field’s new statement of core values that was unveiled last week during the celebration of Field’s new Strategic Plan. I hope you will agree that the statement is a timely reminder that Field is a community of individuals with shared values that endure—values that live in the halls of the Foxhall campus, values that we recognize in the voices of our faculty and staff, and values that we cherish when we see them reflected back in the eyes of our students and graduates.
Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at the address below.
Chair, Field Board of Trustees