As Assistant Head of School and Academic Dean Elaine White P’17, ‘21 closes the chapter on her 30-year tenure at the Academy at the end of this school year to lead the Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut, two seasoned Govs faculty members will step into new leadership positions. Director of Admission Mike Kinnealey will become the new Assistant Head of School while remaining in his role as Director of Admission, and English Department Chair Karen Gold P’11, ‘17 will become Academic Dean.
“Coming from admission, I understand the responsibility that we have to our students, the faculty, and the larger Govs community,” said Kinnealey. “Success in this role is how I can complement Head of School Dr. Peter Quimby. I think of it as the assistant coach to the head coach.”
In addition to his 12 years of experience running the Office of Admission at Govs, Kinnealey has an impressive background that includes leadership positions at three ISL schools. He began his career at Milton Academy where he was a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and ultimately, director of athletics. At Belmont Hill, Kinnealey continued to teach history while coaching baseball and serving as an associate director of admission. His 23 years of classroom teaching experience combined with his comprehensive understanding of the independent school world will serve him well in his new role.
This spring, Kinnealey is still extremely busy with his admission role, but the school’s opening in the fall is never far from his mind. He is planning how he can drive Govs to “be better.” Kinnealey will lead the Academy’s NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) 10-year accreditation in the 2021-2022 school year.
“Govs does a lot of things well,” said Kinnealey. “I credit our restless desire to improve, and to ask, what we are doing and why we are doing it.” While he has experience at many schools, Kinnealey is particularly excited about assuming the Assistant Head of School role at Govs, “Schools that have hubris do not interest me; Govs does a lot of things well and we are committed to always trying to improve and get better.”
“Teaching is my passion."
“As the Academic Dean, I will continue to teach and will remain in the dormitory next year. I believe that the faculty is the foundation of the school. It is important to remember and understand what it is like to be in the trenches,” says Gold.
Gold brings to her new position an impressive depth and breadth of perspective on all areas of life at Govs. She has served as our director of summer programs and run our ESL classes, and is currently the chair of the English Department and the head dorm parent in an upperclass boys dormitory. Gold’s work developing online courses and teacher professional development programs for an organization that prepares Chinese students to study in American independent schools, as well as her role as a New York Times Teaching Fellow only serve to enhance the creative and innovative perspective that she will bring to her work in the Academic Office.
In her 26 plus years at the Academy, a common thread is Gold’s focus on the social-emotional well-being of students. In thinking about next fall, Gold said, “Some students will be coming back on campus for the first time in over a year. How do we welcome our international students back? It is more than just skills, but how to be in a classroom and a community of learners (again).”
“As a school, we are committed to always trying to improve and get better,” said Gold. “The pandemic has given us a unique opportunity to reflect on what has worked well in the past 250 years, and makes us think what can we do to make young people their best selves, and what does that mean beyond Byfield. This makes us have to anticipate what students will need in 10-15 years to be effective and empathetic leaders.”
With a shared fundamental belief that education happens everywhere — in the dorms, on the athletic field, and on the stage — Kinnealey and Gold are thinking about the inclusiveness of the Academy’s courses: do they achieve an intersection of content and skills that are both developmentally rigorous and foster an intellectual nimbleness when our students graduate? Does course material reference and represent diverse voices and experiences?
“Last summer we were collaborating and redesigning curriculum thinking how are we going to connect in a hybrid model — now, we can revisit, put our heads together, and reflect,” said Gold. “Asking ourselves how to engage students and encourage their agency to learn and capture interest to help them become true twentieth-century learners. It is more important now that we understand that when individuals arrive here, they see themselves. It is that cultural fluency that will make them cultured and respectful of difference.”
Change also means reflecting on all aspects of our school to make Govs a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive school.
“Change is hard,” said Gold. “And while we will retain our beloved traditions— from graduation, the candlelight service, and jumping the wall — we just lived through an historical event and we are in a position for tremendous growth. There is real hope and positivity. Our students are incredibly resilient, they show up and are ready for anything, they want to learn and be with each other. There is nothing more hopeful than that.”