Five educators have joined Brooks School's administrative team this new school year. Focusing on academics, student life and diversity, equity and inclusion, the experience these teachers bring to Brooks is as deep as it is varied.
"The wisdom that they have brought from other places, walks of life and experiences is full of possibility for those of us, like me, who are a little longer in the tooth when it comes to Brooks School," said Head of School John Packard, beginning his 32nd year at Brooks this fall, during a faculty meeting in preparation for the start of classes.
"I'm really confident that we're going to be impressed by the people that we work with," he continued in his address to new and returning faculty gathered in the Science Forum on Monday for sessions on academic programming, residential life and health and wellness, among other topics. "In this group of people, there's so much to learn from each other."
Read on to get some background about each new administrator and hear their plans for this new school year — starting on September 6.
Dean of Students Patrick Forrest
A former Marine Corps officer of 20 years, who flew and instructed aircrew on attack helicopters, Governor's Academy and Union College graduate Patrick Forrest said he wanted to work at Brooks because he "loved how friendly the community was." The father of three counts getting to know and develop relationships with students and fellow faculty as his primary goal for the year. "Students in my classes can expect to learn and laugh at the same time," he added. Forrest will be a dorm parent in Peabody House with his wife, teach Self in Community classes and coach girls 2nd soccer this fall. One Forrest fun fact? Ted Lasso is his favorite TV show. "It is about being outside your comfort zone," he said, "remaining positive and building trust through relationships."
Assistant Head of School Nina Hanlon
Currently pursuing her Ed.M. from Columbia University's Teachers College in Private School Leadership, Brown University graduate Nina Hanlon (who also holds an M.F.A. in acting from the American Conservatory Theater) is as excited to teach English as she is to serve as assistant head of school. Students in her classes "should expect to be seen and heard," she said. "I love creating a classroom environment where my students can be their true selves in a space that allows them to question, listen and think critically without judgment. They should also expect to do quite a bit of writing because I feel strongly that practice truly makes a difference." Prior to Brooks, Hanlon was the director of enrollment and financial aid at Greenwich Academy, where she also taught and coached in the upper and middle schools. She lives on campus by Russell House with her 8-year-old twins. "My goals for the year are to genuinely get to know the school and community well," she said. "I want to learn from everyone and fully grasp how the community runs. From there I can determine where I can be most useful and impactful."
Academic Dean Currie Joya Huntington
"This is a place where people do hard work and take care of each other," Currie Joya Huntington said, explaining why he was drawn to Brooks, where he will teach music in addition to his academic office responsibilities. "Students should expect me to be a nerd who's passionate about music," he said. "There's a lot of work to be done, sure, but music is nothing without the fun and the passion. We will work hard and enjoy the process!" The Connecticut College graduate, who completed an M.M.Ed. at The Hartt School, University of Hartford with a pedagogy emphasis, sings himself — with choral ensembles in the Boston area including Coro Allegro, Boston's LGBTQ+ and allied classical chorus. Huntington lives off campus in Somerville, Mass., with his husband and comes to Brooks from The Governor's Academy, where he chaired the arts department.
Dean of Students Ingrid Knowles
Following five years as the associate director for student life at New Hampton School, where she also taught science and history, Ingrid Knowles said "the mission of Brooks drew me to campus." With stints at The Waterford School in Sandy, Utah and in Houston, Texas at KIPP Intrepid as a Teach for America corps member under her belt, the Bates College graduate, who has a M.Ed. from the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University, will also teach science at Brooks this fall. "Students should expect to engage, explore, and have fun in a space where everyone is seen, heard, and valued," she said of the classroom experience she plans to provide. "...I can't wait to dive in." Knowles lives on campus with her husband in the Holcombe Apartment.
Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Terri Ofori
The Reverend Terri Ofori comes to Brooks from Ursinus College, where she served as chaplain, professor and director of religious and spiritual life. Reverend Ofori is an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church, USA and has served the academy as a chaplain and lecturer at Harvard University, Brown University, Wellesley College, Emerson, Simmons, and Bloomfield College. Reverend Ofori received her Th. M. in Education and Spiritual Formation from Princeton Theological Seminary, the M. Div. degree from Harvard University and B.A. from the Mississippi University for Women. She received a certificate in executive leadership from McCormick Theological Seminary and is currently authoring her doctoral dissertation on ethnography and women's spirituality at Fordham University. This fall at Brooks, Reverend Ofori, who lives on campus in Hettinger-East, said her goal is "to listen and learn from members of the community about how I can support the work that they have already been doing." As dean of DEI, she explains, "I hope to contribute to the vitality of discourse surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion at Brooks School by implementing a holistic model of diversity, equity, and inclusion that engages the whole person body, mind, and spirit in a meaningful change of worldviews and a gradual change of systems to build the beloved community."
Reverend Ofori engages the psychological, sociological, theological and cultural worldviews of the community through narrative theory and what she calls the "hermeneutic of listening," in her approach to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. "This method involves deep listening to the individual and collective narratives of those who live and learn together," she said. Reverend Ofori "encourages the examination of ontological questions while providing a non-anxious presence and non-judgmental space to reflect on those questions," she added. Using the West African and South African lens of Sankofa anthropology, Ubuntu philosophy and theology, Reverend Ofori said she strives to "help communities to revision and reframe their individual and collective narratives to transform themselves, their communities and the world."
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