SG Leadership

The Influencers: Teacher and Administrator Profiles

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The following feature was originally published in our annual Guide to Baltimore Independent Schools. To view the guide in its entirety, click here.

Passionate educators, beloved teachers, and inspiring mentors: Meet the educators leading the way at area independent schools.

Boys’ Latin School of Maryland

R. Brandon Mollett, Head of Middle School
The Boys’ Latin School of Maryland

The journey that led Boys’ Latin (BL) Middle School Head Brandon Mollett back to his alma mater began after his graduation from Middlebury College and a stint as a journalist. Nineteen years ago, the 1994 graduate returned to Boys’ Latin, where he has served as an administrator, teacher and coach.

Brandon Mollett, Boys’ Latin

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R. Brandon Mollett, Head of Middle School
The Boys’ Latin School of Maryland

The journey that led Boys’ Latin (BL) Middle School Head Brandon Mollett back to his alma mater began after his graduation from Middlebury College and a stint as a journalist. Nineteen years ago, the 1994 graduate returned to Boys’ Latin, where he has served as an administrator, teacher and coach.

What drew you to education?
After college, I pursued my dream of being a writer and worked as a journalist at Inside Lacrosse magazine, eventually serving as managing editor. I had what I thought was my dream job, but something was missing. I was a volunteer lacrosse coach after graduating from college and realized that working with young people always gave me satisfaction. This realization led me back to Boys’ Latin. I stayed connected to my teachers, and, with their encouragement, I took an intern role 19 years ago, and the rest is history.

What do you like about your current school?
I am deeply tied to Boys’ Latin. My dad, my brother, and I are all alums. Every day, I have the privilege to work with, to learn from, and to mentor middle school boys. What I value most about Boys’ Latin is that the well-being of the individual student, family, and faculty always comes first.

What do you hope to achieve in your role?
My goal is for each student to have an experience at Boys’ Latin in which he feels valued, cared for and confident. To create an environment where boys challenge themselves academically and personally — safe in the knowledge that they are supported by their teachers and classmates.

Tracey Ford, Maryvale Prep

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Maryvale Preparatory School

 

Tracey H. Ford, President
Maryvale Preparatory School

For seven years, Tracey H. Ford has served as President of Maryvale Preparatory School. Her tenure is punctuated by enviable growth in enrollment, giving and brand recognition. Her prior experience as Senior Director of Development for Towson University has served her well in her current role. Recognized in 2015 by The Daily Record as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women, Ford is a role model and leader for girls.

What drew you to education?
A number of things, including the opportunity to transform lives. I don’t know any other vocation that offers you the chance to make a profound difference in young people’s lives.

As the daughter of a first-generation successful career woman, I know the value of education, scholarship, and tenacity.

What do you like about your current school?
Everything! A campus that embraces the outdoors, an iconic historical building – the Castle – and state-of-the-art innovation, tech and theater spaces – it is a jewel of a campus.

In addition, its feel is unique. It’s truly a personalized experience for each girl and a place where ideas and change are encouraged.

What do you hope to achieve in your role?
In today’s world, I am hoping to make Maryvale counter-cultural. Everything we do is under the umbrella of the Maryvale Way, an intentional commitment, founded on the tenants of respect, dignity and diversity, to keep our community focused on our mission and values. Every day our girls are challenged to question and ensure that their decisions and interactions are consistent with the Maryvale Way.

We also want our girls to use the Maryvale Way as the foundation for their lives.

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Kevin Costa, McDonogh School

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Kevin J. Costa, Ph.D., Director of Innovation & Learning
McDonogh School

For 25 years, Kevin J. Costa has been a successful teacher and administrator in education, currently serving as the director of innovation and learning at McDonogh School where he oversees strategic planning, faculty professional development, and institutional innovation.

What drew you to education?
As the son of working-class parents who didn’t finish high school, education has opened every door for me. I believe in its value not only for the opportunities it creates, but also because the process of learning is joyful. Learning makes you a more complete person. I like being part of a profession that can help people love learning and use what they learn to do the greatest possible amount of good.

What do you like about your current school?
McDonogh School believes that education should be transformational. The school celebrates all students and helps them to discover and develop their unique abilities. I have reinvented myself and my career many times. McDonogh encourages everyone to continually learn and discover their purpose.

What do you hope to achieve in your role?
As one of the core designers of LifeReady, McDonogh’s academic strategic plan, I have led the school in implementing this plan that helps prepare students for the future by teaching them to communicate well, ask questions and solve problems individually and collaboratively, and adapt, lead and think for communities global and local. I hope that, over the course of my career, I’m able to work with my talented, dedicated colleagues to enhance LifeReady and further enrich the lives of McDonogh students. To me, this would constitute a life of real purpose and meaning.

Jeanne Blakeslee, Mercy High School

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Jeanne Blakeslee, Principal
Mercy High School

Mercy Principal Jeanne Blakeslee is an accomplished academic leader with a special gift for sparking a lifelong love of learning in girls. As a nationally recognized teacher of AP Psychology, she is involved in just about every aspect of school life ensuring that Mercy girls and their parents know her as a trusted teacher, mentor and friend.

What drew you to education?
What drew me to education was really curiosity and the life of the mind.  I began my career working in college admissions and fell in love with the Great Books Program at St. John’s College in Annapolis. As I continued my own studies, I decided to stay in education because of my interest in the discipline of psychology, the world, and how education prepares young people to be good citizens.

What do you like about your current school?
What I love about Mercy is the mission!  The approach of the Sisters of Mercy is the foundation of our mission and our mission reflects their work:

Insistence upon excellence and giving whatever you’re doing your whole heart; hospitality and a deep respect of everyone you meet; resourcefulness and diversity.

What do you hope to achieve in your role?
I want Mercy to be the best it can be.  To do that, the path we have chosen to take at Mercy was to become an International Baccalaureate World School, which fits so well with our mission. Our next step is to explore the IB Diploma Programme, the most rigorous academic program available to students worldwide.

Joanne Jones, Notre Dame Prep

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Joanne Jones, Principal and Executive Director of Academics
Notre Dame Preparatory School

Joanne Jones brings 30-plus years of teaching, administration and leadership experience to her new job. The Michigan native and University of Michigan graduate served as principal and director of development at Corpus Christi Catholic School in Holland, Michigan. There, she instituted a Spanish immersion program, integrated a STREAM curriculum, re-opened a tuition-free preschool, and led the school’s accreditation effort. In addition, she has served as a team mentor and presenter for the University of Notre Dame’s Latino Enrollment Institute.

What drew you to education?
My mother and aunts were educators. I admired their passion to better the lives of all students. I was taught from an early age that education was the great equalizer. Some students have great aptitude and a wealth of experience to draw on, other students learn through embracing every opportunity to learn in the classroom.

What do you like about your current school?
The community and the mission: “Where girls become women who transform the world.” Everyone who is a part of Notre Dame Preparatory (NDP) feels fortunate to be a part of the community and shares a commitment to personal and professional excellence.

What do you hope to achieve in your role? As the principal/executive director of academics, my primary goal is to support the academic life of our faculty and students. NDP has a long-standing tradition of excellence in education. I am committed to drawing on our strengths and ensuring that we keep our eye on our mission and strategic vision and continuously support the professional development of our faculty and staff.

Dr. Ian Clark, St. James Academy

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Dr. Ian Clark, Lower School Head
St. James Academy

St. James Academy’s new lower school head, Dr. lan Clark, arrives on campus with extensive experience and a passport full of international credentials. Most recently, the U.K. born educator served as the lower school head at San Roberto International School in Monterrey, Mexico.

What drew you to education?
As a boy, I saw my fifth-grade teacher in the window of his house across the street grading papers late into the evening. I thought, “what a lucky guy, reading all of those stories we were writing today at school!” I genuinely feel the same joy every day. I became a teacher because I also felt that students and parents need to feel that joy.

What do you like about your current school?
When I saw the posting, read more about St. James Academy and visited over winter break, I felt it would be a great fit for my family and me. I also noticed how focused the faculty are on the kids, and I saw children who were engaged in learning and eager to share with me what they were doing. The way the school differentiates its teaching to allow the children to access the curriculum is very impressive, and I could see that the students were attaining high levels of academic achievement.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
As with any school, there is a special culture that needs to be supported, and maintaining it will be a priority. I am excited to develop the strengths of the school.

I hope to make the school a place where all students feel appreciated in their journey.

Jeff Huang, St. Paul’s Schools

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Jeff Huang, Ph.D., President
The St. Paul’s Schools

This summer, Jeff Huang assumed the newly created role of president of The St. Paul’s Schools, uniting the boys’ and girls’ schools and the co-ed Pre and Lower school under one umbrella. The former vice president of Claremont McKenna College brings a breadth of experience to his new job, where he will provide oversight and vision for the schools’ unification.

What drew you to education?
In graduate school, I took a campus job overseeing an undergraduate residential building. I realized how important co-curricular education is to augment students’ formal classroom learning. I then entered a decades-long career in college administration.

What do you like about your current school?
From the first moment I drove onto the campus of The St. Paul’s Schools, I felt something special. The physical campus felt like a college, with its beautiful buildings and landscaping. Then I met the people and it got even better. There’s an unmatched warmth to the St. Paul’s community.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
The first step is to stand back and look at the entire curriculum, from preschool through grade 12, and ask, “What is the very best we can reasonably do for our students?” We will challenge and liberate our faculty to collaborate and design the best program they can. We will ensure smooth transitions between grades and continue to refine our unique gender model, where boys and girls learn separately and together. We will build transformative new spaces that inspire our students to innovate, create and collaborate. Moreover, I intend to build new bridges between St. Paul’s and the world beyond.

Ghada Jaber, St. Timothy’s School

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Ghada Jaber, Academic Dean
St. Timothy’s School

Since 2008, Ghada Jaber has served the St. Timothy’s School community in many capacities — as a mathematics department chair and International Baccalaureate (IB) math teacher, academic dean, and IB coordinator, and even a current parent. She brings a rich and unique background to these roles, having been born and educated in Beirut.

What drew you to education?
Although the start of my career in education was incidental, sticking with it for 30 years was a highly intentional choice. Born and raised in a country torn apart by regional conflicts and civil strife, I learned firsthand about the damage a lack of good education can cause. Working with principled educators to develop and implement educational programs with much higher goals than just getting kids to college was a rewarding career option for me. Through attending and leading workshops in over 20 countries, I worked with diverse groups of students, educators and parents who shared a common vision of a better world led by thoughtful, reflective and grounded young individuals.

What do you like about your current school?
St. Timothy’s School is a school with unique character, helping girls develop skills for lifelong success. Guided by the school motto of Truth Without Fear, students are taught under the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, which adds equity, reliability, validity and a globally respected education to the school’s curriculum.

What do you hope to achieve through your role?
Our hope is that [our graduates] see the value of immersing themselves joyfully in the fun traditions as well as local and global experiences St. Timothy’s provides, while working tenaciously to meet rigorous academic, athletic and service requirements.

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