For the first issue of this school year, the UltraViolet interviewed Head of School Jennifer Ciccarelli to get to know her and her plans for the coming year. As we near the end of her first year at Marlborough, Ciccarelli shares her thoughts on the community and the impact that she hopes her first year of work has had.
Q: What were some of the ways that you have been able to get to know and understand Marlborough?
A: In addition to just inviting people in to visit … I have been observing classes, so I have been able to see students in action, which has been really fun. I would love to do more class observation because I think that it is the most authentic way to get to know the school. I’ve loved attending games and matches. I’ve had one-on-one meetings with faculty and staff … that’s been really illuminating and fun, and I’ve done the same for parents. I’ve been to plays, concerts and all the events that students are involved in. The affinity celebrations … are nice opportunities because they’re even smaller groups to get to chat with people and get to know them.
Q: What are some of the changes you would like to see next year and initiatives you plan to release?
A: So a couple of things that are related to student experience and to faculty experience that we’re thinking about for next year [are] clarifying and tweaking the uniform a bit, and we are starting to have conversations about spaces, so study spaces, spaces for students to eat lunch and to hang out. In particular, partly because of all the rainy weather we’ve had, it’s a struggle to find places for people to eat lunch inside while making sure we’re taking good care of the campus so part of that is just having adults be present with students during free time. I don’t think it’s going to feel like a huge initiative, but it’s sort of a tweaking, coming out of the pandemic and thinking about using spaces and what those look like and feel like on campus.
Q: What are some of your changes or initiatives that you think had the greatest impact on our school this year?
A: One of the tricky things about my job that I have come to accept … is that I don’t know exactly how my impact is felt. I can only learn this by seeking and asking for feedback, which I will do towards the end of the year, but I hope that I have been a warm, friendly, approachable presence. I hope that I have been responsive to people’s questions and concerns in ways that have made them feel that their voices matter and they feel seen and heard, and I don’t know that that’s a big shift because that’s who Marlborough is. I hope that my impact has also been that I try to operate from a place of no surprises. If something is going to be coming, I try to signal it. I try to let you know, I try to let you know why and I try to let you know that there will be opportunities for your input, so that there’s nothing that I’m springing on anybody, unless there’s an emergency.
Q: What has become your favorite thing about Marlborough?
A: I think what I love the most is the warmth and the enthusiasm in this community. The way Marlborough students cheer for one another at the ASMs, that might be my favorite thing. Because that does not always happen at all schools, and sometimes in schools, some people get a lot of applause and other people don’t, and I hate that feeling … but that’s not the way it is ever at Marlborough. Everybody gets big cheers and claps and I love that. So I guess, in general, it’s about the fabulous community that is Marlborough and all of the different ways that manifests itself.
Q: Since you have been in Los Angeles for a whole year, do you now have a favorite restaurant on Larchmont?
A: I think it’s probably Vernetti. I love Great White, I love Louise’s, but I have to confess, I haven’t had a Wine and Cheese sandwich yet.
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