Stacey Bobo joined the Ethical Culture Fieldston School community in July as Fieldston Upper Principal, and since then, she has been getting to know the students, the campus, and the School. Prior to joining ECFS, Stacey served as the Executive Director of the Hawaii Technology Academy in Waipahu, Hawaii. Previously, she was the Principal of Lyford Cay International School in Nassau, Bahamas, and an Assistant Superintendent for Miami-Dade County Schools in Florida. Stacey holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from UCLA, a Master’s Degree in Bilingual and Multicultural Education from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and a Doctorate in Education Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.
When she first joined Fieldston Upper, Stacey said, “I am delighted and honored to join the ECFS community whose core values — a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; the assurance of a challenging and relevant curriculum; sincere concern for the well-being of the student; the placing of students at the center of all school activities and programs — align so closely with my own personal and professional values.”
We sat down with Stacey to chat about the year ahead.
What do you think makes the ECFS community unique?
We are authentically progressive and truly student centered. Students are in charge of their learning. We genuinely support students from beginning to end — students start their first day out on the Quad and return to that same location for Commencement. It’s a full-circle moment for all of them. Students have multiple pathways to complete their educational career at ECFS, and that journey can be different for each student.
Tell us a little bit about your onboarding experience. What was your biggest takeaway from Courageous Conversations and/or the Progressive Teaching Institute (PTI)?
I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me through my onboarding experiences. I am thankful for all the socials, the one-on-one meetings, and, last but not least, the advice that has been given to me about adapting to the pending cold weather.
My key take-away from Courageous Conversations is that I do not need to have all the answers and I should start by listening to the myriad stories of the ECFS community. I also began to build my awareness of the compass — thinking, believing, feeling, and acting — and the tactic of navigating toward the center when dealing with difficult conversations.
PTI was outstanding! It was welcoming, engaging, and very informative. I enjoyed learning more about the history of ECFS and the School’s rich traditions. Dr. Talusan’s keynote speech was excellent, and her reminders about building skills for more inclusive relationships resonated with me.
For me, the highlight of the three days was the opportunity to listen to students. Their open and honest dialogue was refreshing and I could clearly see their passion for Fieldston.
What are you looking forward to this year?
I am looking forward to connecting with everyone. So much has happened during the COVID-19 pandemic. My hope is that we have a year of happy learning and laughter. I would like students and staff to make memories that they will treasure in the years to come.
What do you see as a challenge or opportunity in your new role?
As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, my goal is for us — students and faculty/staff — to reconnect. I want us to return to the joys of learning and teaching. A recent study published in “PLOS One,” a peer-reviewed, open access scientific journal, suggests that extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness are all on the decline in the U.S. after two years of the pandemic. Young adults, in particular, have been affected. I see the key challenge as “how do we return to normal” and the key opportunity as “making a new normal that is beneficial for all.”
Whom do you look up to?
I look up to my mother. She is the strongest person I know. She cared for my sister and me as we grew up and then nursed my father through a rare form of dementia for more than 16 years. While we watched our father and her husband slip away from us, and through all the ups and downs, she never stopped smiling or reminding us how fortunate we were. She always reminds us to give back and be there for people. It is this example and sentiment that I hold on to in the most difficult times.
Do you have a favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spot is the Quad. It is such a beautiful location that seems to inspire peace and tranquility. It is the focal point of the School — it is where students start their Fieldston Upper education and where they end it.