Dr. Sarah Pelmas has been named as Winsor's next head of school, effective July 1, 2016. She will join Winsor from the National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., where she is now associate head and head of the Upper School. She will become only the eighth head in Winsor's long history, succeeding Rachel Friis Stettler, who will retire in June after 12 remarkable years of leadership.
On October 1, members of the Winsor Corporation, the school's century-old governing body, made the appointment official by adding their own unanimous approval to that of the Trustees. Both votes followed the enthusiastic recommendation of a search committee.
"An accomplished educator and superb leader, Dr. Pelmas will join Winsor at a historic moment, with our school healthy and thriving by every measure," wrote board chair Allison Kaneb Pellegrino '89, P'21, '22, in a letter to the school community following the vote. "We look forward with full confidence that Dr. Pelmas and our school will flourish in the years ahead as she builds on the leadership of the strong, visionary women who have guided us since our founding."
"I can't tell you how excited I am to be part of the Winsor family!" exclaims Dr. Pelmas. "Winsor has always been forward-thinking about the education of women, and has had a history of extraordinary leaders," she reflects, echoing Ms. Pellegrino's words. "I am so proud to join their ranks."
"From my first view of the school's new Lubin-O'Donnell Center to my lunch with the students and visits to classes, I felt the joy and vibrancy of the campus life," she adds. "I can't wait to spend more time with the students and faculty, the alums and parents, and the whole vast community that Winsor has nourished."
ABOUT SARAH PELMAS
For the last five years, Dr. Pelmas has enjoyed a "profoundly fulfilling" tenure at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., serving as associate head and head of the Upper School at one of the country's pre-eminent girls' day schools.
Prior to NCS, she served for a decade on the faculty and administration at San Francisco University High School, gaining experience in the many facets of school operations in her roles as dean of students, English teacher, and interim athletic director at a school known for its high-achieving students.
Dr. Pelmas has also taught in the English departments of Stanford, Syracuse University, the City College of San Francisco, and the University of California, Berkeley, from which she holds her Ph.D. in rhetoric. She earned her bachelor's and master's in English and creative writing from Princeton and Syracuse, respectively. While her career path began in higher education, a shift to independent schools taught her "how much more there is to the education when it includes the whole person." Beyond her professional interests, her passions include sustainable living, rowing, running, hiking in the Squam Lake region and the Adirondacks, and family. She and her husband, fellow educator Matt Eddy, are parents to two young sons.
ALIGNING VISION WITH MISSION
In putting forth her Winsor candidacy, Dr. Pelmas reflected eloquently on her educational philosophy. "Now, more than ever," she wrote, "schools need strong leadership so that the vision aligns with the mission, inspires everyone to work and learn, and above all keeps the institution moving forward in exciting ways."
Sharing those words in the announcement letter, Ms. Pellegrino reflected: "Her own career reflects each of those key qualities: leadership, vision, inspiration, and drive. What came across clearly to every one with whom she spoke during the process—trustees, faculty and staff, students, alumnae, parents—was how deeply her own vision aligns with Winsor's."
The possibility of leading Winsor into the future attracted "an immensely impressive field of candidates," the board chair notes. Since March, a head of school search committee has worked tirelessly to find the best possible match, led by co-chairs Elizabeth Bennett Carroll '89 and Bruce Shaw. Search consultants Linc Eldredge and Jessica Cockrell from Brigham Hill Consultancy provided their invaluable assistance. The committee drew on feedback from the entire faculty and staff as well as parent, alumnae and student advisory committees. Forums and surveys in the spring provided another channel for Winsor community members to share thoughts on the qualities desired in the next head of school.
"Dr. Pelmas wonderfully embodies the most essential of qualities," concludes Ms. Pellegrino, in looking forward to welcoming her to Winsor.