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Head of School

Welcome From the Head of School

John G. Palfrey, Jr.


Welcome to Phillips Academy -- a secondary school unmatched in its breadth and depth, its capacity for innovation, and its commitment to global engagement. As you explore what makes Andover unique, I encourage you to consider how you might fit in our dynamic community.

We often point to the achievements of Andover alumni – an extraordinary group of bridge builders, entrepreneurs, public servants, inventors, artists, performers, and leaders in nearly any field you can think of. For many, their life’s work can be traced back to strong roots on Andover Hill. Their stories can be linked to teachers who encouraged them, peers who applauded them, a failure from which they rebounded, and endless opportunities to ask, “What if?”

What if you joined Andover? What might you do?

I came to Andover after serving as a faculty member and academic administrator at Harvard University. I am struck by three characteristics that place Andover among the best in secondary school education: academic excellence delivered by gifted and versatile faculty, students who represent youth from every quarter, and a community grounded in bedrock values with a contemporary vision.

Academic excellence is expressed in our unusually broad and deep curriculum. Through more than 300 courses, teachers meet students where they are, then push them further than they ever thought possible. Students who demonstrate exceptional ability take on independent work with a faculty mentor or pursue coursework at the college level and beyond.

Andover’s purposefully diverse student community is the product of need-blind admission -- our promise that a student’s opportunity to attend Andover does not depend on his or her family’s ability to pay tuition. Each year, we welcome more than 1,000 students from almost every state in the nation and more than 30 countries.

Students arrive eager to share and refine their talents and skills. Just as important, we encourage Andover students to explore areas they previously might not have considered. One student, who described himself as “a math and science guy who dabbled in music and tried to play sports,” ended up discovering interests in creative writing, international relations, and the character-building sport of crew.

Andover is blessed to have a world-class faculty, devoted to teaching and connecting with students well beyond the classroom walls. Faculty members serve as coaches, advisors, and house counselors; 95 percent of our faculty lives on campus, creating a warm and supportive community. The faculty is composed of great teachers, but also of concert pianists, published novelists and poets, economists and environmentalists, mathematicians and marathon runners. Andover supports professional development experiences in places such as China, India, the Middle East, and South Africa in the belief that consistent exposure to contemporary global issues leads to new ideas in the classroom.

Phillips Academy students, faculty, and alumni share a calling: to serve and lead in the spirit of non sibi, the Latin phrase meaning “not for self.” The most important aspect of Andover – what ultimately attracted me to this extraordinary place -- is the shared commitment to high principles and to continuous learning and innovation. Andover is a place of tradition and strongly held values, and also a place that never rests on its laurels. I hope that you will take the time to learn about this remarkable school – and that you will consider joining us at Andover.


Former headmaster John M. Kemper was featured on the cover of TIME magazine in 1962.

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