September 08, 2021WOLFEBORO — Brewster Academy welcomed 365 students from 21 countries and 27 states this week for orientation and the start of classes. Because of the ongoing pandemic, masking and quarantine plans are in effect, and all students, faculty, and staff at Brewster are required to be vaccinated against COVID. The 2021-22 school year also begins with a different leadership team at the helm. On July 1, Kristy Kerin was appointed as Brewster Academy's 13th Head of School, the first female head of school in the institution's 201-year-history. Craig Gemmell, who served as Head of School for six years, has been appointed President of Brewster and BA International, LLC.
Kerin, whose previous role was Associate Head of School, has been instrumental in Brewster's successful fundraising campaigns and its vanguard approach to strategy, allowing the school to make enhancements to its programs in service to student growth. She has also facilitated Brewster's COVID Task Force, which continues to rapidly adapt and develop protocols in order to protect students, employees, and the greater community in which they live.
Gemmell will now lead a new endeavor called "BA International, LLC." Different from the school's robust global programs, which give students opportunities to live and learn for entire trimesters overseas, BA International is the umbrella organization under which Brewster will manage a network of campuses around the world using the Brewster Model of education.
"This is much more than putting the good name of Brewster Academy on overseas schools," said Director of Communications Suzanne Morrissey. "It is an opportunity to fulfill our stated vision to move forward 'an approach to learning that has the exponential power to transform education, communities, and the lives of students in our care.'"
Morrissey explained that in his new role, Gemmell will ensure that innovations and opportunities for improving upon best practices translate among Brewster's network of schools, and that the main campus in Wolfeboro benefits from the new network as well.
The first BA International school will open in Madrid, Spain, in 2023. The Head of School for Brewster Madrid, Ariane Baer-Harper, is spending the 2021-22 school year on the Wolfeboro campus.
"Ariane will be soaking up Brewster's methods and culture to bring to Madrid," Gemmell said. "Building in this time for her to absorb all that makes Brewster special here in Wolfeboro is an example of our commitment to the Brewster network schools truly being a part of a greater whole, not outposts in name only."
Baer-Harper most recently served as Country Director and Head of School at Enko Education Senegal in Dakar, Senegal.
In addition to this leadership evolution, when students arrived this week they found a few physical changes on campus. The Facilities building on the south side of campus, home to the Maintenance and Housekeeping teams, has been torn down, making way for new green space and a planned dorm. (Maintenance and Housekeeping will now occupy the long-empty bank building on Center Street behind Three Sisters.) Phase One of the Rogers building renovation will be complete in October, giving the students a modern student center, dance studio, blackbox theater, café, and flexible classroom space. "We do hope that the state of the pandemic will allow us to invite the public to view and enjoy this amazing new space soon," Morrissey said. "But safety will always come first."
Brewster has also expanded its offerings for afternoon enrichments, sports, and AP coursework, along with a Field Term experience during which a small group of students will live and learn for a full trimester in a camp setting in the Belknap Mountains.
As the school year began, Kerin stressed that a fun and lively year of learning is ahead, even though the pandemic is still front of mind.
"We know from experience that Brewster can thrive even under difficult circumstances," she said. "Last year, as we opened school in the midst of great uncertainty, we did so with the conviction that it was in the best interest of students to learn in person and as part of a community. Through careful planning and deep care for one another, we were able to stay open for the full year…and while it was a challenging year at times, it was also a year filled with gratitude."
Continuing a tradition created by her predecessor, Kerin announced a word that sets a theme for the school year.
"The word for this school year is curiosity," she said. "We will encourage everyone to embrace this theme, to be curious, ask questions, and try new things. I've encouraged students to really get to know their classmates and teachers and ask questions: What do they believe? Why do they believe it? Where do they come from? How is it different from where you come from? How do you want to engage? What are your goals?"
The more curious we are, Kerin added, the more we learn, "and the more we gain from living and learning in a boarding school community of diverse thinkers."
To learn more about Brewster and its mission to prepare diverse thinkers for lives of purpose, visit brewsteracademy.org.