Kyle Wilkie-Glass, Interim Head of School for the 2021–2022 academic year, is ready to lead the Ethical Culture Fieldston School through a time of transition.
Wilkie-Glass first joined ECFS five years ago, and since then, he has overseen pivotal departments of the School, including Finance, Operations, and the COVID-19 Task Force, as well as high-profile projects like the Tate Library renovation, Student Commons renovation, and creation of the Design Studios. Prior to his time with ECFS, Kyle served as Assistant Vice President for Campus Operations and Planning at Sarah Lawrence College and as an Adjunct Professor for Finance and Business at Manhattanville College, along with serving in other student life and operational roles in higher education.
As Wilkie-Glass said following the announcement of his new role, “The past five years have provided the opportunity to work with and get to know so many of our colleagues, students, and families — I am grateful to start our work together in a more familiar way.”
Here, Wilkie-Glass reflects on the year.
What are you looking forward to this year?
What I’m most excited for is exactly what we saw on the first day of school: Everyone is back, and the joy is just palpable. From seeing families during drop-off at Ethical Culture to students and faculty at the Fieldston Middle assembly or later in the day in the cafeteria — it’s moments like these that remind me how much joy there is in working in a school. The past year has been tough because we needed to shift away from that and prioritize a much more utilitarian style. So, days like the first day of school — and more days like it — are what I am really looking forward to.
What do you see as an opportunity for this year?
I strongly believe that, even in the current pandemic environment, there are ways for us to do everything we want to do safely. It might not look exactly like what we’ve done in the past, but there are ways to do it all safely. There are different elements of the academic program that we are looking to bring back that will enrich the quality of student life here. There are aspects of the co-curricular and after school programs — like Fieldston Middle and Upper theatre and dance — that we weren’t able to host last year but are now back. For example, in October, the Fieldston Upper Fall Drama was performed outside on the Quad. The opportunity that I see this year is understanding more about how we can operate in the pandemic and finding ways to do things that allow our community to feel the embrace of school life.
Do you have a favorite spot on campus?
My favorite place on campus is in the Tate Library — on the main floor, overlooking the Quad. We put really comfortable chairs there when we renovated the space. It gives you this beautiful view any time of day. I like it best in the evening, in the fall, when the sun is setting and the leaves are turning. It really hits all those bucolic notes that you would expect from the Quad at ECFS. It’s a nice place to be because you’re also very much on the flight path — people are coming and going, faculty and staff are walking to their cars, students are studying. It’s one of those moments where, when you’re sitting there, even if it’s just for 20 minutes, you feel very connected to the School.
What was your favorite TV show or book that you enjoyed over the summer?
One of the things that you see at the end of every academic year, while people are cleaning out their classrooms or offices, is that everyone puts books out that are available to take home. I was in the faculty lounge at Fieldston Upper and I saw a copy of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s a short book, around 200 pages. It’s very well known; it’s been on The New York Times bestseller list several times since it came out in 1997. It’s one of those books that I’ve wanted to read for a while, and so I grabbed it off the table. I read it in July, and it was a nice, grounding experience. It’s a good reminder of ancient wisdom that’s still very relevant in the contemporary world. It’s probably categorized as philosophical self-wellness, and it offers a really interesting perspective on things.