Jon Alschuler, Interim Fieldston Middle Principal, never could have imagined beginning his tenure in this new role during such a tumultuous time for the world at large. However, his career prior to his arrival at ECFS and during his time at the School has certainly prepared him for this moment, as he has been a leader in independent schools in various roles at both the middle and high school level.
“Equanimity, authenticity, and integrity distinguish his interactions with adults and students alike,” wrote Jessica Bagby, Head of School, in her announcement of Alschuler’s appointment. “Because Jon is caring, discerning, and thoughtful in every conversation and endeavor, he has earned trust and confidence across school constituencies.”
Alschuler takes over for Chia-Chee Chiu, who left the School in July of 2020 to join the St. John’s School in Houston, TX.
Alschuler wrote: “I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the chance to work with Chia-Chee Chiu during my first two years at Fieldston Middle School. Her leadership has been both steady and visionary, and I am confident we will be able to continue the work she has started without missing a beat, thanks to the leadership structures she has put in place and the incredible team of teachers and administrators she has assembled here.”
Here, Alschuler reflects on the year ahead.
What are you looking forward to this year? I am definitely looking forward to seeing students in person for the first time since March, and I was happy to see so many of them this past week at orientation. I yearn for the moment, hopefully this year, when I can see whole grades gathered in our agora spaces again. It is so easy to take those moments for granted until they are not possible.
What is special to you about middle school students and being a middle school educator? Middle school is a time period of enormous growth for students — intellectually, socially, and emotionally. It can also be a very tumultuous time for kids. Being a stabilizing presence in students' lives while they try to balance so many competing factors is something I really enjoy.
What do you see as an opportunity for this upcoming year? The pandemic may force us to interact in more structured and deliberate ways, and it is my hope that this will lead all of us to listen more deeply to one another. Some have asked me how we plan to build connections between students who are new to the school as 6th Graders, and I truly hope that group actually becomes closer — less cliquey — than Middle School kids can sometimes be, as a result of having to speak and listen to one another more deliberately.
Do you have a favorite spot on campus? I love walking across the upper field in the morning on my way into school — I walk to school and often enter through the back gate. It gives me a sense of the size and scope of the campus before anyone is really there, with the sun coming up.
What was your favorite TV show or book that you enjoyed over the summer? My kids, who are 10 and 13, watched all eight seasons of The Office this summer, and I really enjoyed watching that again with them when I could. The two books that I enjoyed the most were Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds; and There,There, a novel by Tommy Orange.