Inkwell interviewed Mrs. Kelly, the new Headmistress of Friends Academy, to learn more about her and understand her transition to the school.
What made you want to pursue a career in education?
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to become an educator. I think it was roughly my sophomore year in high school that I knew this was the career I wanted to pursue, which I am so fortunate for since many people at that point in their life are unsure about what they would like to be. My connections with my own teachers really inspired me to pursue this career, and I hoped to create similar connections with my students.
Was there a specific teacher that motivated you?
I had a ballet teacher who taught me from a very young age, so I was able to have her guidance for a prolonged amount of time. She was tough, yet she also had a good sense of humor and would always push you to reach your potential. I really admired that about her. I also had a trigonometry teacher who really impacted me. I had always found math to be challenging, but this teacher was able to break down concepts and make them understandable. He also loved math and knew how to teach it, and ultimately that made the class doable for me.
I know how much you loved working at your former school, Packer. How did you make the decision to leave?
I was the Associate Head of School, but I knew I was aspiring to a head position. I felt that the timing was right for me to take this next step. In my work, I also like to feel anxious and a need to be on top of my game. The next main question was what school would be able to pull me away from a place I loved for 20 years. I had been to a conference at Friends Academy 10 years ago, and when I got the email for the open position, I was intrigued because it had many of the elements that I was looking for in a school– it was co-ed and a pre-k-12th grade school, similar to Packer. The aspect of working at a Quaker school was also very compelling, and I really felt drawn to the values that embodied the school.
What are your hopes for Friends Academy in the next few years?
I believe we should strive to make Friends the next best version of itself. We should not attempt to be like another school since FA is such a unique and distinctive place. Excellent schools preserve what is sacred and keep the school mission close, but also have to be responsive to the current times. We need to constantly learn more about learning-by changing out methods and seeing what is most effective. Overall, we must know our school’s identity but be responsive to change as change is needed.
What Friends Academy Experiences are you most excited for?
I am excited for seeing how Community Groups and Worship Buddies work. I believe these are the quiet and understated core practices of FA, and the idea of the school coming together in these groups and partnerships really intrigues me. I also am looking forward to know what if feels like to be a student at Friends, specifically in the high school, and hope to learn more through lunches and a shadowing program.
What are some fun facts about you and hobbies of yours?
I like to read, and I also enjoy meditation and yoga. I also believe that it is very important to try to be together with family as much as possible. I like to cook, and I like to seek out unique neighborhoods and walk and seek out new experiences.
What are your favorite experiences at Friends so far?
I really enjoyed addressing the senior class at the Camp DeWolfe retreat. Specifically witnessing the clerking of the cap and gown discussion allowed me to learn about the group, especially their sense of humor that they managed to maintain. I also have felt an overwhelming sense of welcome-a feeling of being invited in. Hearing about the history of the school through various stories also has been wonderful. Most of all, I have to say I enjoy being with the students.