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September 16, 2019

Setting course

Interim Head of School Jim Ventre ’79 has led with reverence for tradition and a desire to try some new things

Interim Head of School Jim Ventre ’79 has experienced Andover as a student, an alumnus, a faculty member, and administrator. But has he ever danced with Gunga on Main Street?

He can now check that off his Andover bucket list after joining the Blue Key brigade to cheer the arrival of new students last week. Days later he gathered with the senior class for the annual Vista Walk, a tradition initiated by 14th Head of School Barbara Landis Chase and continued by 15th head John Palfrey P’21, 23.

In these early days of the new academic year, Ventre has led with reverence for tradition and a desire to try some new things.

Faculty convocation, a tradition that sets the academic year in motion, took place on Aug. 21 with more than 250 faculty, faculty emeriti, and trustees attending.

Drawing on his expertise in admission, Ventre said that the caliber of the faculty and the relationships they nurture are the most compelling reasons why students choose Andover.

“We hope to teach a good many things,” he said, “how to work hard, how to write clearly, how to think critically, how to speak effectively, how to think about art, music, dance, and theater, how to engage with multiple cultural traditions and perspectives…We are preparing our students for a world in which they must engage those with identities, and views, and perspectives different from their own.”

He invoked the wisdom of Mary Mulligan, a 36-year veteran instructor in history and social sciences. She suggests that “we are aligned in our purpose to teach our students a few things: to know about the world, to critique the world, and I especially like this last one, to teach our students how to repair the world.”

Her perspective speaks to the unwavering optimism we share for the year ahead, he continued. “It will not always be easy, and it will not always be comfortable, but it will be worth it.”

Ventre ’79 address students at the first All-School Meeting of the year

Following convocation, the next morning, all employees were invited to the chapel for a community welcome, a first of its kind gathering.

“The idea to gather all faculty, staff, and administrators…serves as a persuasive symbol and a powerful visual reminder of our consolidated strength as the community of adults at Phillips Academy,” said Ventre.

“We are individuals with varied roles and expertise, we are close, we are colleagues, and we share our future…Each one of us is crucial to Andover making good on a promise to our students to deliver a world-class education.”

Categories: Leadership

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