Who Should Head Girls' Schools?
Should women run girls' schools? That is a question more and more educators are asking as the number of male heads of girls' schools increases. What follows are some responses:
"I think it's great to have a woman as head of a girls' school," says Blair D. Stambaugh, head of the Baldwin School for girls in Pennsylvania. "Even more important, I think, is that women be 'writ large' in girls' schools in responsible administrative positions. I don't have any problem if a girls' school is headed by a man, but I think a woman has to be right up there in an administrative position."
"Generally, I think yes," says Appleton A. Mason, one of three search consultants at Carl Andrews Associates, a national firm. "I think it's a good role model for the girls in the school. Although I guess I get a little ambivalent about this. Sometimes my friends tell me that the father image is also important for girls, particularly in this day and age when families are splitting up."
"I think it's an obvious point of view, but I think it's got a kind of superficial relevancy to it," says Jerry A. Van Voorhis, rector of Chatham Hall, a girls' school in Virginia. "Is it important to have a mechanic run General Motors because cars are produced on assembly lines? I don't know. If one is simply trying to reflect in the top person in the organization the characteristics of that organization, well, then yes, you would be led to the conclusion that women should run women's schools and priests should run Episcopal schools--and you can cross the line and say a computer whiz should run a computer company. I don't think that logic is one that holds much depth."
"I guess I would join the educators who are concerned about the fact that there are fewer and fewer women who seem to be seeking major educational leadership posts," says James W. Lewis, headmaster of the Holton-Arms School for girls in Maryland.
"I would say that undertaking the principalship or, in this case, the6headmastership of any school is challenging. And I suspect for a man in an all-girl school, there are special sensitivities which are brought into play. Perhaps that's what makes it so challenging and interesting on a continuing basis."
"We try to promote from within our own ranks," he adds. "And we try to encourage our women colleagues to take on responsibility of various sorts."
'The Very Best'
"I think it's very important that women be in leadership roles," says Nathan O. Reynolds, headmaster of the Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles for the past 20 years. "I think it's equally important, if not more important, that the very best people I can find are in those roles.
"Obviously, I don't think a male is incapable of running a girls' school," he adds. "I think that if you are open to the experience and you guard against trying to impose a male vision upon the education of the girls, it's fine. The danger, when I first came here, was that I was going to treat all these girls like boys and expect them to be boys and they are not boys, thank you.''--lo