The current head of school has announced that she is resigning as of next June. This was a huge shock to some people, because she's only 60 or so, but I'd actually been expecting something along these lines and was kind of relieved. A year ago, when I was feeling especially upset because the head of school had officially declared that the FGS history project fell apart solely because I was "mean," I seriously, seriously thought about looking for another job this year. Both the department chair and the head librarian separately talked me off the ledge, giving me a good list of reasons to stay at FGS -- one of which was that the head of school probably wouldn't be staying that much longer. And voila, a year later, it turns out that we were right!
Our own personal drama aside, I think that our head of school has done a great job of raising money and putting the school on better financial footing, including weathering the economic downturn, and that is a huge accomplishment. She has also apparently added a lot of transparency to school governance, compared to the previous head (whom I barely knew, so I can't compare). She's also apparently better than the last head in terms of croneyism, although I think there's still plenty of that going on. There are employees on campus who get almost everything they want, and others who get slapped down, neither of which is a pretty sight.
I see myself in neither of those campus, fortunately. I will never be a favorite of the head of school, but once the book was dead and I was no longer department head, I've been able to mostly stay out of her way, and when we're in the same spot we have perfectly reasonable conversations. And I'm sure she had to give a thumbs up to my going to South Africa. And I think that she recognizes that I'm a good teacher and a valuable member of the school, even if not someone she exactly likes. And I'm okay with that.
(Okay, let's be honest: I'm actually never "okay" with authority figures not thinking I'm fabulous and giving me gold stars, but I realize that this is an immature attitude that I should get over.)
Of course, now we got through the process of searching for a new head of school. Today the Academic Dean released the names of the folks who are going to be on the faculty staff advisory board for the search process ... and the choice of faculty representatives really couldn't have sent a clearer message that the goal in this search process is to keep everything as exactly the same as is humanly possible. I was super annoyed at the incredibly conservative choices -- not to mention the fact that Ex-Co-Author, who has never taught full-time at the school but who is one of the head's darlings, is one of the four faculty representatives! -- but now I'm shaking off that annoyance. First of all, I feel much better about the staff representatives than the faculty representatives, so there will be voices I admire on the committee. Second, what big changes do I actually want anyway? What I really want is a head of school who will represent the school well, raise money, and make mostly reasonable decisions. So that's pretty much what the current head does and what the new head should do. And probably most of the school's employees would agree on this point.
I do have this not-so-secret fantasy that under a new head the school might come to value real intellectual striving and achievement, both for students and for faculty, but I don't think that's realistically going to happen. It's a prep school but not an academic powerhouse prep school, and I honestly think that most of the school prefers to see well-rounded students getting good grades while also playing sports or a musical instrument or being popular than intense, brainy students whose scribbled notebooks full of poetry or whatever don't make as good press. It is what it is, and I've worked out a good life here, so I may as well -- as a retired English teacher coached me just a couple of weeks ago -- give up that fantasy and be realistic about where I work.
And where I work is a very good place indeed, and there's no point in expecting it to fulfill all needs in my life. Here's to hoping that the new head of school, arriving next June, will let me keep rollin' along in the good life I've got here.