NY Times Covers Yin and Yang of St. Ann’s Leadership

Today’s New York Times features the story of vastly different leaders of St. Ann’s School—outspoken founder Stanley Bosworth, and the reliable yet low-key Larry Weiss. Bosworth is lauded for his vision; Weiss for his stability. Now with Weiss moving on, there’s a new leader in town.

The school ended up choosing Vincent Tompkins, a deputy provost at Brown. His mission is to steer St. Ann’s somewhere between the seat-of-the-pants style of its founder and the more measured tack of his successor.
“This is a place that is very deeply understood by all the members of its community,” Mr. Tompkins, 48, said. “The challenge is, when a school is built around a powerful set of ideals, how do you sustain the ideals and not lose sight of innovation?”
Dr. Weiss has been appointed head of the Brooklyn Friends School. It will be a bit of a homecoming for him: he worked as a teacher there in the 1970s, when Mr. Bosworth was creating St. Ann’s.
Mr. Tompkins knows he has an easier job than his predecessor. When being vetted by the board, he met with students and told them, “It’s easier to be Thomas Jefferson than John Adams.”

What do you think the future holds for St. Ann’s with the new headmaster?

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  • bhmom3

    That is an odd question to pose on this blog.

  • Gracie

    Help me figure out the code:

    “built around a powerful set of ideals”
    “not lose sight of the innovations”
    “deeply understood by its community”

    This is an expensive private school for the sons and daughters of privilege. How is it that different from any other expensive private school for the upper class?
    What malarkey.

  • squid

    And what year was your kid rejected, Gracie?

  • nabeguy

    Gracie, if you had attended Saint Ann’s, you’d know it’s not Dalton.

  • Gracie

    I don’t know anything about St. Ann’s. I admit it. That’s why I’m asking for help with the code. All I know is that it is a school for the well-to-do and like most “progressive” schools -of which there are many, the kids are not given grades like in “ordinary” schools.

  • T.K. Small

    I was accepted and rejected simultaneously in 1972. Although the school said I was smart enough, they insisted that my parents hire someone to accompany me and my wheelchair for the entire school day claiming that the student body was too rowdy.

  • Nancy

    St. Ann’s has many students under scholarship and actively participates in Prep for Prep. Believe it or not, there are also normal, middle class people there who struggle financially to send their children because they simply love the school, and beleive that they give a wonderful education.
    From what I have been told on college admision tours, St. Ann’s is the only school in the country not to have any grades whatsoever. Some schools have admissions people who specifically are assigned St. Ann’s student’s applications

  • Gracie

    I think this kind of school is OK for rich kids who have parents with connections who will ease their way wherever they chose to go but it is a crime for a poor kid to go to a school like this and come out with NO IDEA of how to succeed in a normal “bourgeois” academic environments. Learning how to study in order to get good grades on tests is very crucial in our competitive society.

  • bhmom3

    Have you figured out that “code” yet Gracie?

  • Sanchez

    I’ve been trying to get my daughter admitted to this school since she was two, but haven’t figured it out yet! What is the secret?

  • Lisa222

    The article reflects very poorly on Saint Ann’s. The pretentiousness amazes me. It seems like they are valuing someone who will supposedly bring “magic and anarchy” over a solid leader who has done very good things for the school. Really, anarchy in the job description for parents paying almost 30k a year? Get over yourselves. I have young children and would never consider sending them there.

  • ABC

    T.K., that’s awful!

  • gsn

    That’s a good thing!!! You don’t have a clue!

  • Publius

    I want to send my kids to St. Ann’s so they can learn to smoke right outside the school, just like the students I pass with regularity. Nice permissive policy there. Minors have a right to smoke and we wouldn’t want to stymie any of the freedom and creativity of these little geniuses, would we?

  • AEB

    The knee-jerk (to coin a phrase) defensiveness of some posters about the school is disheartening.

    And defensiveness and/or envy it IS, to my mind. And the fear of “permissiveness.” Let us all cover our faces and run in the opposite direction at the sight of the educationally innovative/non-traditional. Much the best way.

  • Lisa222

    And I want to bring stanley back so he can say things like this “He told me, ‘I don’t know why any [teacher] would want to have sex with a virgin: It’s like having a mummy!” Funny that Stanley has now become some kind of hero. http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/people/features/n_10337/
    Bring on the anarchy gsn!

  • bhmom3

    Lisa222, you are beginning to look a little silly.

  • Heights Guy

    Years ago, the Wall Street Journal (not a hotbed of liberalism) voted St. Ann’s to be not only the best school in New York City, but in the whole country.

    It’s pleasing to me that a school such as St. Ann’s even exists when more and more schools follow the same dull, stultifying modes of education. It’s good to simply shake things up once in a while.