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New Head of School Announced

Dear Parker Community,

On behalf of the Head Search Committee, I am thrilled to announce that Laura Graceffa has been chosen to be the next Head of School.  Laura is presently the Head of the Middle School and Chair of the Science Department at Poughkeepsie Day School (PDS) in Poughkeepsie, New York. You may remember Laura as a member of the NYSAIS Accreditation Visiting Team who came to Parker last year.

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Laura Graceffa

Laura presently oversees all aspects of the PDS Middle School program including mentoring faculty, admissions, planning, scheduling, leading faculty meetings, communicating with parents, budgeting, and hiring. Laura is also responsible for implementing the school’s strategic plan within the Middle School and teaches in the Intensive Studies program.  Additionally, Laura was a 7th and 8th grade science teacher from 2003-2015 and in that role designed an innovative, integrated science curriculum which stressed lab and cooperative learning activities, and science as form of inquiry.  Furthermore, as Science Department Chair she supervises the Pre-K to 12th grade science teachers and oversaw the interior design of three new science labs.

Laura serves on the PDS Board Finance Committee, the Admissions and Re-enrollment Committees as well as a number of other PDS committees. Laura is a member of the NYSAIS Emerging Leader Institute cohort and continues to be involved with the program as a mentor. Laura earned her A.B. in Biology at Vassar College and a Sc.M., Biology and M.A.T., Biology at Brown University.

In accepting her headship, Laura stated, “I am truly excited to be joining the Parker community. I am inspired by the Parker vision of an education that keeps students at the center of their learning, places a high value on the outdoors and creatively seeks ways to find experiences that reach beyond the school walls. The pride in Parker that every member of the school community has shown during my visits is heartwarming and inviting. I look forward to working with Meg Taylor on a smooth transition as I join you in July.”

Laura’s knowledge and understanding of progressive education along with her ability to connect education with brain development will be critical in continuing our child-centered learning environment and promoting Parker’s teaching methods and philosophy to current parents as well as the broader community. She states, “This is a particularly exciting time for educators to strive to learn quickly, question conventional wisdom, and nimbly implement new practices in light of new findings about the brain and learning.”

Laura concluded her educational philosophy with this simple statement, “By keeping students at the center of our decisions, we not only provide the best learning environments possible, but also enable ourselves to realize the most joy and pride in our work.” Clearly, Laura has the perspective and integrity to continue to promote both Parker values and the value of a Parker education.

Additionally, Laura’s science background will help Parker continue to build on its strong science program and further differentiate itself from other independent schools in the area, distinguishing Parker as the sought-after school for STEM. As we begin construction of the Discovery Center, Laura is certainly the right fit at the right time.

As you can see, Laura is steeped in progressive education, living and teaching it for the past 13 years. She is an excellent communicator and has a wealth of experience in teaching and mentoring and is known by her colleagues as a collaborative leader. Personally, I was impressed with Laura’s energy and enthusiasm. She is always smiling, laughing and enjoying what she is doing.

As we welcome Laura, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the remarkable accomplishments of Meg Taylor who has led our school with confidence, determination and also kindness for the past 14 years. Her tireless efforts have greatly enhanced the school’s reputation while, even more importantly, ensuring it remained true to its core values.

On behalf of the Head Search Committee, we truly appreciate the time and attention that the entire Parker community has devoted to this process. We on the Search Committee worked diligently to make this process as inclusive as possible and made certain that we solicited and considered the feedback of all our constituencies. I offer a special thanks to Lynn Schuster for heading the Advisory Committee; to the Advisory Committee (JoAnn Bennett, Erin Berical, Jamie Crouse, Jeff Goff, Andrea Hartman, Jes Marcy, Seth Tillinghast, Jen Wenacur, and Robert Gibbs [assistance with questions]) from whom we received candid and insightful feedback; and to the faculty, staff, parents and board members for attending candidate meetings and providing their opinions and comments. I look forward to introducing Laura in the near future.

Sincerely,

Caroline Melkonian, President, Board of Trustees, Head Search Chair  caroline.melkonian@gmail.com

Head Search Committee:

  • Erik Eddy
  • Kristin Koehler
  • Josh McWilliam
  • Mark Napier
  • Margery Whiteman
  • Nancy Wolf
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