After 9 years as the Assistant Head of School at Hawken, Ms. Samson is heading to Boston as the new Head of School for Beaver Country Day School.
The school has just under 500 students, 6th through 12th grade, all on one campus. Ms. Samson notes that “one of the things I love about it is it’s really a lot like Hawken, both in architecture and forward focused education.” Just like Hawken with the new Stirn Hall, Beaver Country Day recently built their Research and Design (RnD) building with a design that also revolves around open space.
Beaver Country Day is not exactly like Hawken, but the differences are not in philosophy but instead in how they are facilitated. For example, Beaver Country Day does not have macro courses, but instead has a partnership with an engineering school where a student can take a semester course and learn through very similar problem-solving based learning with an experiential focus for students.
As Ms. Samson thinks of how she will begin her new role at Beaver Country Day, she says that “the most difficult for [her] is sitting on [her] enthusiasm of thinking about things that have been great here, there. [She’ll] need to sit and think and listen to what will work well and what won’t.” She comments there are many ideas she would love to bring, including a more interdisciplinary focus, macro courses, and intensives. In fact, she plans welcoming a team of teachers from Beaver Country Day to Hawken for a few days so they can start to have conversations here to see what Hawken is doing, instead of only relying on an “administrator’s removed view.” Ms. Samson believes that “A lot of [her] work at this point is to figure out how to operationalize a vision, how to take what we believe we want to be and how we want to get there, and to work with faculty and students to move in that direction.” She has followed this belief at Hawken as she initiates discussions with faculty, and is already in the process of beginning to apply this philosophy to her new position.
Ms. Samson is not only attracted to Beaver Country Day, but also to nearby Boston. Many of her family, including her daughter, sister, and father live in the area, as well as numerous friends from living in Boston for over 20 years. She regards her new journey as a trip home.
On a similar note, moving from Assistant Head of School to the new Head of School represents professional growth. Her current role revolves around curriculum, teachers, discipline, and emotional life. Being Head of School “adds an external component that I don’t currently do … there’s a whole other area that a head of school is involved with, including advancement, admissions, and marketing.” Although she is in those conversations, she isn’t necessarily responsible for them like Mr. Looney. Her new role will make her responsible for those areas, and additionally the overall vision of the school and how it is articulated.
Throughout her years at Hawken, she has been integral in cultivating conversations and the vision at Hawken. When she began to work at as the Assistant Head of School, the four-block schedule had just begun, and intensives were one year in. Since then, she has overseen the development of macro courses, the expansion of the senate and the HIC, initiated work in the realm of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (DEIJ) such as affinity groups and the diversity council, and is helping lay the ground work for the Mastery School. She has also been a part of incorporating service into academic work as seen with Integrated Service Learning (ISL), the growth of STEMM and Speech and Debate, and of course, Stirn Hall being built.
“I really hope that the transition is smooth, and that the Board of Trustees and I can work on making that as smooth as possible for faculty and students… I hope the same for Hawken, that whoever fills my seat, that there’s no hiccup. I’m confident that Hawken is the type of school that will attract a great pool of candidates.”
Congratulations to Ms. Samson on her new position starting next year! In the meantime, Ms. Samson will remain as engaged as always in her duty as a leader at the Upper School and as a key facilitator of student life.