On March 1, Associate Head for Academics and Director of Upper School Laura Hotchkiss announced that she will be stepping down from her position after over 30 years of working at Marlborough to take on the role of the next Head for Academy of Notre Dame de Namur in Villanova, Pa.
Hotchkiss is a Marlborough alumna, who graduated in 1986. She first began working at Marlborough as a mathematics teacher in 1991, and throughout the years took on numerous positions such as the Math Department Head, the Director of Middle School, Director of Upper School and Assistant Head of School, before taking on her current role. Through her time in different roles she has accumulated extensive knowledge.
“I have learned that communication and being really transparent about decisions is so important,” Hotchkiss said. “I have learned the importance of putting students at the center of those decisions. Working with great educators that care deeply about the students they work with is really my life’s work, which makes all the hard days worth it. Sometimes you have to lean into the hard things and the discomfort. You have to laugh at yourself a little bit, can’t get too serious and relish those joys.”
Hotchkiss has contributed to a myriad of programs including finance, advancement, enrollment, strategic planning, and course academics. She is ready to start the next chapter of her career.
“It reminds me of when I sent my kids off to college,” Hotchkiss said. “It’s kind of bittersweet. You know it’s time to go, but you’re also kind of sad that they’re leaving. I’ve been the beneficiary of working with amazing students, educators, and administrators. I think it’s time for me to take that experience and expertise and go somewhere to see what I can provide to that community and that school.”
Hotchkiss said that she found her fit with her new school.
“I was very excited about the school,” Hotchkiss said. “It was all-girls, grades 6-12, kind of the same size as Marlborough. It really had a great sense of community; it felt a lot like Marlborough. The students seemed very excited and engaged about learning.”
Head of School Priscilla Sands feels a bittersweet sentiment with Hotchkiss leaving, after working closely with her for six years.
“It’s of course sad, but I’m overjoyed for her,” Sands said. “Dr. Hotchkiss became my confidant and ally very quickly. We have worked closely together on every issue in the school. I can’t tell you how many times I would say something or she would say something and it was exactly what she was going to say to the other. She is going to do amazing things for that school.”
With Hotchkiss leaving, Sands had to choose who would take on Hotchkiss’ position.
“I decided to name an interim, someone who I feel could be good at this job permanently,” she said. “First and foremost, I thought of students. I wanted to choose someone with whom students resonated. I wanted to pick someone who would be embraced by the student body, be super smart, know about the Upper School and know about college, which is how I landed on Dr. Wallace.”
Dean of College Counseling Jawaan Wallace will be Interim Director of Upper School for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years. As of right now, Wallace will continue college counseling for her students in the class of 2022.
“Dr. Hotchkiss leaves some incredibly huge shoes to fill, but I’m definitely up for the challenge,” Wallace said. “I’m really excited for the opportunity to connect with all the Upper School students, parents, faculty, staff and really just experiencing Marlborough in a different capacity outside of college counseling.”
Wallace also is looking forward to bringing in her perspective as a woman of color to administration.
“I am excited as a woman of color to be a role model for students,” Wallace said. “I think that Marlborough is definitely moving in the right direction in terms of thinking about the leadership of school and incorporating a variety of voices and perspectives, so I look forward to leading the charge.”
In addition to Wallace, Sands was looking for someone to help Wallace with the workload. Wallace is taking over the responsibilities of the Director of Upper School and some academic responsibilities, while Allen will be taking on the rest of the academic responsibilities.
“I asked Mr. Allen because I wanted to create more of a team around Dr. Wallace,” Sands said. “Mr. Allen will oversee all the academic parts of Marlborough. He will oversee the department chairs, but what he’s really doing more than that is facilitating conversation amongst the academic leaders at this school. We know where we want to go, we know who we are, where we want to be, and he is going to help facilitate. It’s a lot of what I value in leadership: the ability to facilitate conversation.”
History Department Head Jonathon Allen will be assuming the role of Assistant Head of Upper School for Academics, working under Wallace. He has chosen to only teach one class, 11th grade AP World History, given his new responsibilities. He has appointed history instructor Mabel Wong to be the new History Department Head.
“In my view a large part of my role is making sure we stick and are genuine to the vision statement, which is Equity Leads Education,” Allen said. “It’s one thing to have really strong classes across the board, that’s obviously a priority for me, but an even bigger one is how do we see equity in every single class that we teach and what does that look like, and what does that mean.”
Splitting Hotchkiss’ job to include Allen as an assistant to Wallace, struck Allen as an exemplification of the magnitude of work required in Hotchkiss’ job.
“There are some responsibilities that Dr. Wallace and I will split, like meeting with students for course scheduling,” Allen said. “I think this is the biggest testament to how much responsibility that Dr. Hotchkiss had and how well she was doing what she’s doing. When someone’s job is split into two, that speaks volumes—no one person could step into those shoes. It’s really incredible.”
Hotchkiss hopes the two will learn from her own experience, as they take on their respective roles for the 2021-2022 school year.
“Each of them comes with some experience and some expertise,” Hotchkiss said. “They certainly care deeply about the students at Marlborough. Whenever you take on something new, even at a place you know, you have to listen very carefully. And I really will encourage them to use the amazing team they have around them.”