In July of 2021, Russell Marsh, currently the Upper School Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Coordinator, will move into a new role: the school-wide Director of Community Inclusion. As Head of School Emerita Jessica Bagby wrote in a message to the community, “The strategic need for this full-time, all school role is critical given our mission and the challenges of the cultural and historical moment that call for communities of conscience and schools, in particular, to respond to them. As we continue to pursue our current institutional goals and anticipate our next strategic planning process, Russell’s leadership and vision will be invaluable.”
In his four years at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Marsh has endeared himself to students, parents, faculty, and the broader community with his patience, vibrance, and care. In anticipation of his transition into the Director of Community and Inclusion role, we sat down with Marsh to get to know him better.
What are you most excited about for next year?
I’m most excited about working with the whole school. Right now, I’m just in Fieldston Upper, and while sometimes I do work with the lower schools and Fieldston Middle, I’m excited that it will be my charge to work with the whole school — the parents, alumni, and Board of Trustees — in an official capacity.
Whom do you look up to?
I actually look up to my son, my little guy. He is bright, intelligent; he perseveres. All the stuff he has to do — being a young guy, being eight years old, being a big brother, because we’re foster parents. He adjusts to being a big brother — he’s a great big brother. I look up to my little son. He’s a nice little guy.
How have your experiences prepared you for this new role?
Before ECFS, I was the Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Brooklyn Friends School, and I’ve been here for four years as a DEI Coordinator. I’ve been an educator for over 20 years, so a lot of that experience falls into the work that I’m going to be doing next year.
You’re looking in the mirror before the first day of school. How do you psych yourself up?
I have daily songs. Throughout my interview process, I was playing PJ Morton’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.” That was my song that settled me, so I’ll probably sing that — “everything’s gonna be alright” — and just walk out the door.
What do you think makes the ECFS community unique?
The student life. The student programming. Putting students first. Some schools say they do it, but I know we do that a lot here. The faculty are really passionate about the kids, for the kids, and make the kids better, so I think that’s really unique.
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
My office! I have the inside office [where his desk sits] and the outer office [with couches], and after COVID-19, my door will be open. Kids just come in here, and they make fun of my jar of candy — they say it’s granny candy or old church candy — but they always just pop in, and the jar is empty. It’s my favorite place; everyone’s in here.
What do you think your biggest challenge will be in your new role?
I have to get to know how other divisions work. After four years, I’ve got Fieldston Upper down pat. (Well, not all the way down pat!) I know individuals in each division, and I know administrators in each division, but I have to get to know the smaller cultures. That’s gonna be a challenge.
If you were a baseball player, what would be your walk-up song?
It’s maybe because he just passed: “Who We Be” by DMX. Dah dah dah dah. I just love it. That’s the first song that came to my brain. “As I’m coming up, they don’t know who we be.” That would be it. For the Yankees!