Dear Dalton Family and Friends,
Approaching the end of my 23rd year at Dalton, I am writing to say that 2017–18 will be my last. A proud alumna, it was an honor to return to my alma mater, and now, over half of my life has been within the halls of Dalton.
My goals have always been grounded in the Dalton mission and philosophy, one that focuses on the individual while celebrating the community, honoring innovation and preparing our students for the wider world they will enter. On a personal note, I certainly benefited from my eleven years as a Dalton student, and this school shaped the path I chose after graduation.
I have loved experiencing many varied administrative positions at Dalton beginning as Director of the First Program for six years, though I must admit I ate too many cupcakes! Associate Head, Interim Director of the High School and then Head of School have afforded me so many wonderful opportunities, colleagues, friendships and so much more. When asked what I like the most about my job, it is always time with the students as High School House Advisor, visiting classes in all three divisions (how I wish I could attend again as a Dalton student!) and seeing performances, athletic events and exhibitions. In the wider world, I have enjoyed opportunities to represent Dalton across the country and to speak with alumni and educators about our school.
By all counts, we are at one of the strongest moments in our school’s history. Looking back at the changes that have taken place over the past two-plus decades, I am exceedingly proud of all we have accomplished. There have been significant programmatic changes, particularly in the areas of math, science, computer science, robotics and engineering, while retaining our strengths in the humanities, the arts and athletics. Our global reach has extended to partnerships in many countries, and we are one of the founding members of the Global Online Academy, our first online courses. Our work has been bold in the context of equity and social justice, including our commitment to ensuring that our diverse community of families mirrors New York City. We have improved our facilities by adding a townhouse to 91st Street that includes beautiful new science and art centers and handicap accessibility. At 89th Street, we have constructed a new cafeteria, music rooms, and lobby, and we are now designing the addition of two new floors. And, in this era of heightened school security concerns, we have made significant improvements for our safety protocols in all three buildings.
We successfully completed one major campaign reaching beyond our goal and are well on our way in another. In my mind, our development work is about more than raising money. It speaks to the value of a Dalton education and means that generations of students will be able to learn and thrive in our stimulating environment.
More than the above successes, Dalton is about people. I am inspired every day by our talented faculty whose expertise, passions and care for our students are unending. Our students are smart, talented and energetic. I always feel joy in welcoming the newest Kindergartners, knowing that I will be watching each one of them charting his/her own path to graduation. I consider parents as our partners and thank them for sharing their children with us, for volunteering countless hours and for supporting Dalton in so many ways.
In a school, no one person does it all and I have been so fortunate to have an extraordinary administrative team: professional, hard working and trusted advisors, all working towards the same goals. I thank our dedicated Board of Trustees, especially the five Chairs with whom I have worked so closely — John Shapiro, George Doty, Robert Kasdin, Cheryl Effron and Alan Klein — for their time and wise counsel.
I must add special appreciation to David Stein, my late husband, my true partner, always standing by my side encouraging me, listening to the events of each day and offering valued advice.
From the day I arrived as an administrator at Dalton, I felt committed to ensuring that it is as well known for its values and ethics as for its academic excellence. I hope I have made a difference in helping to nurture honest, kind and respectful children — my focus being on the heart as well as the mind.
In June 2018, I will go through the Arch and graduate for a second time. As Dalton approaches its 100th birthday, I leave a school of great strength with a strong future. I go forth unafraid with the hope of finding other ways to contribute positively to educating children. I will hand the reins to Jim Best, with whom I have worked over the past eleven years. His energy, sense of humor, understanding of young people, and commitment to innovative teaching and learning will serve Dalton very well. In the meantime, there is much for us to do over the next year to nurture Dalton’s vision and dreams for the next century.
Thanks to each and every one of you for what will be 36 years associated with this extraordinary school.
Sincerely,Ellen C. Stein
Head of School
To the Dalton community:
I’m writing to you with important news about the leadership of Dalton.
After years — decades — as a House advisor, leader, and, to my mind, a living embodiment of the culture of Dalton, Ellen Stein has informed the Board that she will step down as Head of School in June 2018. Ellen has led Dalton during a period of fundamental change in society, taking the school to new heights of success while keeping Dalton grounded in its values and traditions. She is, quite simply, a towering figure in Dalton’s history.
Replacing Ellen, a distinguished leader who personifies the very essence of Dalton, is a daunting challenge. The Board knew that Dalton will need a leader to succeed Ellen who is experienced, understands Dalton’s culture and mission and can guide the school into the future. As the Board carefully considered the change in leadership, we were incredibly fortunate to have outside experts confirm to us that one of the city’s, and the country’s, most coveted administrators is already an integral part of our leadership team. I am therefore delighted to report, both as Board President and as a parent of two current Dalton students, that the future Head of School of Dalton is someone from within the school community who has worked very closely with Ellen and has been mentored by her since she chose him to be the then-Assistant Head of School 12 years ago.
The Board unanimously and enthusiastically selected Jim Best, our Associate Head of School, to become Dalton’s new Head of School when Ellen steps down in June 2018. Jim has already won the trust of the Board, and has been working closely for a dozen years with Ellen and our talented faculty, staff and administrators. Jim’s selection as Dalton’s next Head of School to succeed his departing long-time mentor is a welcome event in the life of Dalton.
Jim is an educator who is regarded by his peers across the city and around the world as a leader in every sense of the word. Prior to joining Dalton, he was a teacher, advisor, coach, and administrator at various independent schools in the U.S. As Dalton’s Associate Head of School, Jim has spearheaded Dalton’s global initiatives, led Dalton’s co-founding of the Global Online Academy (whose board he now chairs), and has overseen reviews of Dalton’s offerings in Math, Science, Foreign Language and, most recently, Physical Education and Athletics. He has been at the forefront of STEM and transdisciplinary initiatives at Dalton and was asked by Dalton’s Board of Trustees to work with them and Ellen to develop and implement Dalton’s next Strategic Plan, which will be introduced this coming autumn. Jim is a popular House advisor in the High School and a regular presence in the halls of 89th Street, known for encouraging big ideas, meeting students where they stand, and finding new ways to take them further than they could have imagined. He is, in short, a visionary educator with a heart as big as Dalton.
In the coming year, Jim will serve as Head of School-Elect, alongside Ellen. This year-long transition will be an invaluable opportunity for Ellen and Jim to move together through an orderly and organized process that will provide important continuity as we also welcome new leadership in the High School and Middle School. Those of you who don’t already know Jim will have the opportunity to hear from him and meet with him in the coming days and months.
As we congratulate Jim on this exciting news, we must profoundly thank Ellen for her incomparable leadership of Dalton. These few lines are inadequate to do full justice to her contributions. Ellen’s connection to Dalton is deep and expansive. She is a member of the Class of 1965, and the first alumna to be Dalton’s Head of School. She is a link between Dalton’s history and its current excellence. Her intellectual curiosity, deep ethical grounding, commitment to equity and social justice, tireless optimism, kindness and sense of fun are characteristics which are all at the heart of Dalton. Ellen laughs often and she earns respect without seeking praise. She has achieved remarkable results without compromising her, or the school’s, principles.
Ellen successfully implemented our past Strategic Plan, including the physical expansion of Little Dalton into an adjoining townhouse, the expansion of the First Program curriculum to include Spanish language instruction, major improvements to the 89th Street building, the expansion of our STEM, Robotics and Chess programs, and the planning and fundraising for the Raise the Roof project at 89th Street. She has continually demonstrated that Dalton can provide the best progressive education, with superb faculty and an excellent learning environment, while still maintaining its reverence for time-honored traditions such as Candle Lighting, Arch Day and Greek Festival. She has achieved that rare balance between moving Dalton forward and staying true to the school’s values, and is recognized not just at Dalton but throughout the world among her peers for her unflappable grace and pedagogical preeminence.
Ellen began her tenure as Head of School on September 11, 2001. During her sixteen years as Head of School, and during her entire twenty-three years at Dalton, she has sent Dalton’s students out into the world prepared to meet its challenges and to make their communities better. We will have many opportunities over the next year to celebrate Ellen’s leadership of Dalton for the past decade and a half and her almost quarter century as an administrator at the school. Most notably, the entire Dalton community past and present will come together to honor her at our gala next Spring.
I write this letter with the deepest gratitude to Ellen, and unbounded admiration and affection for her. I also feel genuine energy and excitement for Dalton’s future under Jim’s leadership and guidance. On the cusp of Dalton’s 100th anniversary, we are literally and figuratively building on the vision of the people who came before us.
The Board takes pride and pleasure in working with the faculty, staff, alumni, students and parents to help Ellen, Jim and every member of our strong Dalton community to Go Forth Unafraid.
President, Board of Trustees