From the Head of School
As the new Head of Garrison Forest School, Chris Hughes was formally installed this September. Here are a few excerpts from his Installation speech. Read the full speech here.
I love schools. Schools are incredibly dynamic, complex systems, filled with individuals who bring an almost infinite combination of skills, interests and challenges, and schools - all good schools - are committed both to serving the students who come in, and helping shape and mold them before they graduate - truly meeting them where they are and helping them find a path for growth. Some schools do this better than others - some schools try to find students who fit into a certain mold or push them to fit that mold so that the school can define their growth. Part of why I am at Garrison Forest is because I know it is a school that defies putting students in that “box” --- come as you are, let us get to know you, and we’ll help you find success - and if that success is defined in 555 slightly different ways, so much the better.
Whether you’re learning a world language or a geometric theorem, reading a challenging novel or a primary source document, learning to carve alabaster or learning a new dance sequence, there’s always a level just below the surface of what you’re doing that gets to why you’re doing it, and how the piece you’re working on builds to a greater whole. You can get by - sometimes - at the surface level, but the deeper exploration of how things work is where school becomes truly rewarding and fulfilling. Great teachers, coaches, and mentors, like the ones sitting around you in this room, help you see that.
Because schools are these dynamic and complex systems made up of individuals, they provide a never-ending series of opportunities for interaction, engagement, connection, and understanding. As much as school provides insights into how things work, they are also the world’s best system for figuring out how people work. Where else do you combine people from the age of two through the edge of retirement and unite them with common purpose and common goals? Where else is it so true that both your raw materials and your final product are people? And that is the ultimate reason that I love schools, and why I take this role so very seriously. You students depend on us, as faculty, staff, and administrators, to provide an environment where everyone is seen, everyone is valued, everyone has a voice and a place... I explained in the opening days that one of my themes for this year is the theme of “home,” and every one of us in this place - students and adults alike - has a shared responsibility to make Garrison Forest a home for everyone here. And while that is a high standard and a huge thing that I expect from all of us, it actually isn’t that hard to achieve. It comes from one simple - and complex - place: kindness. I have already seen so many examples of wonderful kindness in these opening weeks - it shows up as cheering for a classmate, paying attention to others, pasting a kind note on someone’s locker or dropping a kind word in their ear… Truly, outside of your own family, you will never be in a place where you have so much opportunity to treat others with kindness and to receive kindness yourself - it’s a skill that can be honed, and Garrison Forest is your workshop.
To the students: I believe in you - every student in the room, every girl who walks through our doors. I believe in your capacity to go a little deeper, into how and why things work and not just what answer you need to put on the paper. I believe in your spirit - the community spirit that almost cost me my eardrums at the light blue/dark blue sortings, and the individual spirit that helps you persevere and press on when you hit a bump, as you will and you should. And I believe in your ability, and I hope your commitment, to be kind to each other, to be generous and thoughtful in your interactions, and to make Garrison Forest an even more wonderful place because of your time here. We can do that together, and as we do, we will truly find success - together. And notice that ending - We Can, We Will.
ABOUT CHRIS HUGHES
Christopher A. Hughes is the 12th Head of Garrison Forest School. He comes to GFS from St. Paul Academy and Summit School (SPA) in St. Paul, Minnesota, a coed K-12 day school, where he served as Upper School Principal for 10 years. As chair of multiple K-12 task forces, Chris was instrumental in the school's success in increasing enrollment, evaluating and improving its science program and a campaign to upgrade STEM facilities and redesign the Upper School. During his tenure at SPA, he continued to work in the classroom teaching courses in global issues and ethics.
Chris developed a genuine understanding of the importance of empowering young women to lead during his time at Chatham Hall, an all-girls' boarding school in Chatham, Virginia, where he worked for seven years. At Chatham Hall, Chris wore many hats including teacher, advisor, soccer coach and Academic Dean. As Academic Dean, Chris was integral in helping to improve the academic program and reduce faculty attrition.
His day-boarding experience began at the start of his educational career at St. James School in Hagerstown, Maryland, where he served as Director of College Counseling and Dean of Students supervising student activities, residential life and student discipline.
Chris holds a BA from Lafayette College and an MA from Lehigh University, both in history and education.
Chris and his wife Farida, an artist and marketing professional, have two children; Jordan, a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, and Leah, a sophomore at Parsons School of Design. The family is delighted to live on-campus as part of the GFS residential life community.
Get to know
Head of School Chris Hughes
in your city!
Chris will meet and greet alumnae in cities nationally and internationally during the 2018-19 school year.
Mexico City: January 15, 2019, 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Hosted by Trustee Paty Autrey '98
Delray Beach: January 28, 2019, 3 PM - 5 PM
Hosted by Elinor Purves McLennan '56
Vero Beach: January 29, 2019, 12 PM - 2 PM
Hosted by Louise Hine Huber '68
Hobe Sound: January 29, 2019, 6 PM - 8 PM
Hosted by Sarah LeBrun Ingram '84
New York: February 13, 2019, 6 PM - 8 PM
Hosted by Amabel Boyce James '70
Los Angeles: February 27, 2019, 6 PM - 8 PM
Hosted by Gail Killefer '71
Colorado: April 10, 2019
Hosted by Betsy Searle '74
Look for gatherings in the following areas.
- New York
This list will continue to be updated.
Questions? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters from Chris