NYT on St. Ann’s Luring of New Headmaster with a Brownstone

The New York Times reports today on the Cobble Hill brownstone purchased by St. Ann’s School to lure its new headmaster, Vincent Tompkins:

NYT: It was a sale much like many others in that desirable enclave, except for one thing: the buyer was a school, Saint Ann’s, which had decided to purchase a residence as part of the lure for a new headmaster, Vincent Tompkins, who was then the deputy provost at Brown University.

Many of the elite schools that provide housing bought it years ago, when real estate was not nearly so expensive. So the Saint Ann’s search was a major undertaking, with the board of trustees contributing generously to the purchase, said Peter Darrow, president of the board.

Buying the house not only solved the problem of where Mr. Tompkins, who has three children, would live, but also made the school more competitive with its peers in attracting heads of school, and gave it a place for formal and informal gatherings for faculty members, alumni, parents and students.

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  • It Is What It Ain’t

    Probably a great investment for the school as they are buying when the market is in distress, to put it mildly. Years from now they will look back and smile on the good fortune of their timing.

    As a separate matter, can this Brown guy revive this once great school?

  • Muskrat

    To the previous poster, can you say more about your question re reviving the “once great” school? Are you an alum?

  • Nancy

    Still great in my opinion.

  • CrankyOne2

    I wish someone would lure me with a brownstone..

  • Western Brooklyn

    A measly brownstone in Cobble Hill? Should also buy him a beach house in East Hampton & a yacht & helicopter to get there & back to sweeten the deal!

    Seriously, does this help set some type of elite president? How can public schools compete with this sort of thing?

  • Western Brooklyn

    @It Is What It Ain’t,

    $3.8 million for a brownstone on Baltic Street is a “distressed” price? What do you suppose the more fair, non-distressed price will be?

  • Heightser

    @Western Brooklyn – They can’t, and they don’t have to. The values are different and the constituents are different. If you want your child educated at a school that spends millions on a house for its headmaster than that is where you belong (and you have to be able to afford to help pay for that house too.)

    But if you prefer you child to be educated in the real world, and learning from and dealing with real people every day, then public school is where you belong. This is an example of elitism at its finest. I don’t want my kids thinking that the population at St. Ann’s is what the world is like. I think it is detrimental to their development in becoming compassionate adults. There is more to an education than course offerings and student teacher ratio. I think too, that if St. Ann’s core values are luring people into jobs with real estate, that speaks very loudly and poorly for them.

  • Western Brooklyn



  • Western Brooklyn

    Sorry, meant “precedent”, not “president.”

  • AEB

    Hightster, what makes public school kids “realer” than those whose parents have the dough to send them to St. Ann’s?

    Of course I understand your point, but compassion for others isn’t an inevitable function of growing up among those who may be more disadvantaged than oneself.

    Too, you’re saluting the very distinctions you would, presumably, like to erase.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlsiLOnWCoI Arch Stanton

    Heightser, and your kids will be all the better for not attending St Ann’s. Anyone who thinks that school was or is “great” is living in the delusional bubble the school was designed to create. It is for wealthy people who want to believe that their child is a talented genius even though the reality is their kid is just an average student. I have friends who graduated from St. Ann’s and say the school left them woefully unprepared for pursuing a serious higher education.

  • http://www.Cognation.net Dean Collins

    am i reading the article wrong? Bought at $3.8m then sold later at 2.5m?

  • Heightser

    @Arch – It is more than just compassion. It is about acceptance too and being comfortable around people who are not like you – ethnically, religiously, and financially. I just can’t see how this happens in a school that costs about $35k a year. It is a very small segment of the population of this world that can afford to pay this tuition. I know they take a few token scholarship kids, but let’s be real here. It is an elitist environment.

    The socioeconomic diversity that exists in public school better prepares kids for functioning in the real world. Unless you are planning to only deal with the 1% in life, I just don’t see how putting your kids in a bubble of a school like St. Ann’s can contribute to the development of well-adjusted adults.

  • bornhere

    Interesting “lure”; and let’s all remember the brownstone on State (at the end of Garden Place) that “lured” the chancellors of the City schools for so long.

  • nabeguy

    Occupy Saint Ann’s!! As an alum, there are good and bad things I can say about the place, but apparently, I don’t need to. You guys seem to have it pretty much covered.

  • NG

    Wow, such stereotyping and prejudice. They don’t take tokens and the children who are on financial assistance would resent you saying that. I’m a government worker and we scrimp and save to send our kids there, Why does that bother you so much? My child graduated last year and is very much prepared for college; I guess if you pick apart any school you will find kids who aren’t prepared. And in case you don’t realize it, plenty of “rich kids” go to public school.

  • Gerry

    @ Born Here – you took the words out of my mouth it was a sucession of Chancellors that included a guy named Fernandez, another named Cortinez and then Rudy Crew who had lived in that dilapatated Bownstone it was run down really a wreck BUT it had location, location, location.

  • Heightser

    @NG – of course there are plenty of rich kids who go to public school and thank goodness they do. These are the families that contribute the most to supplement what the city and state have taken from our schools and enables us to have incredible programs – available to everyone. It’s the mixture of rich and that makes public education so great.

    What percentage of the kids who attend St. Ann’s receive financial assistance? I am guessing it is less than 10%, but please correct me if I am wrong.

    Why would you scrimp and save when you can’t afford it to send your child to private school when there are excellent public ones available? How did your child feel being in the minority at St. Ann’s? Did he or she ever feel badly because you couldn’t provide the same opportunities like expensive vacations and weekend homes?

  • AEB

    The answer to your question, Heightster, is that one will get a better education–will receive greater attention–from teachers who are better trained at most private schools than at most public ones.

    One’s children will also have a better shot at better colleges when coming from a private school than a public one.

    I don’t understand what to me is your sentimentality about a public school education, as if sending one’s child to one ensured or even encouraged a more demotic world view. People tend to move within the class into which they were born in life throughout life. A private school is not be definition a hotbed of exclusion.

    If one can’t afford a private school education–that’s one thing. But if one can, well, why would one NOT (try to) send one’s child child to a private school?

  • AEB

    To amend my last comment, of course some private schools will be worse than some public schools.Undoubtedly, parents need to make a decision about their child’s education on a case-by-case basis.

  • T.K. Small

    nabeguy: Even from the wilds of Long Island, you beat me to the joke I wanted to submit.

    Also, it seems that St. Ann’s regularly receives pretty strong criticism, but Packer doesn’t get so much abuse. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I am curious how two schools, which probably charge similar tuitions, are viewed so differently.

  • Boba Fett

    I attended public school from K-12. I was in the “honors” institute in high school. A high school with metal detectors on the way in, a nursery for students who were also parents, and a lot of diversity. While I was certainly exposed to dynamics I would not have appreciated in private or boarding school, I was woefully unprepared for college. It’s about the individual, not the school.

  • Western Brooklyn

    Yes, the Board of Ed did purchase a brownstone on State Street in 1990 for the Chancellor. It was sold off in 2003. The Chancellor no longer gets any form of free housing or paid living arrangement.

    Also, a Chancellor is in charge of 1,700 schools & 1.1 million students, St. Ann’s is just 1 school, just saying.

  • Western Brooklyn


    It’s admirable that you scrimp & save to send your children to the school of you choice. Point is, every child is entitled to a good eduction, whether or not their parents are able to scrimp & save for it!

  • It Is What It Ain’t

    I have to laugh when I hear the public vs. private school debate. The facts of the matter are pretty straightforward: 1) You get what you pay for. $35,000 for a year of school is prohibitive. But it has the potential to buy you an incredible education, not to mention incredible development in many other ways. If you can afford it, why would you NOT want your child to have such an advantage? 2) Public schools, in a minority of cases, provide an education equal to the best private school, e.g., Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, etc. So, the child who is talented and motivated has a public school option. The problem is there are far fewer slots than demand for these free, elite, public schools. Again, if your child qualifies, why wouldn’t you go for it? 3) The argument that private schools, or elite public schools for that matter, don’t prepare one for the “real world” are just laughable. This is the argument of one who has neither the money for private, nor the smarts for elite public, and can be dismissed as the self-serving ramblings of one who would ask that all devolve to the lowest common denominator, i.e., the “real world” of which this commentator is a part. This is simply not consistent with everything we know about individual differences and the relationship among inherent ability, drive and achievement. Horses for courses, as the English would say. Am I wrong?

  • Western Brooklyn

    Point is, should schools, public & private, be in bidding wars to see who can provide the most lavish perks ($3.8 mil brownstone is pretty lavish) to lure the best principals?

  • Master Of Middagh

    @Western Brooklyn- Are you here making more bigoted remarks directed at people of faith in general? It seems I’m going to have to keep a closer eye on your postings- thanks for reminding me! ;)

  • NG

    @WesternBrooklyn, I am not looking for your validation. We do what we do for what we deem important. @ It is What it Ain’t said it much more eloquently than i did, but I agree. And i do agree that everyone is entitled to the best education possible. This is what has been possible for me and I am damn proud of my kids.

  • T.K. Small

    In today’s Wall Street Journal, there was an interesting article discussing whether an Ivy League education is worth it.