Bill Clough's Educational Statement
The first school I attended was in our dormitory apartment on the campus of Holderness School. My mother ran a nursery school for me and six other faculty children in our family room. Meanwhile, my father taught English, ran the dormitory, and coached football and skiing. On many nights, my parents would host dinners for their fellow teachers. This blending of school and life helped me understand people and has shaped my thinking about community and schools.
What I remember most is feeling encouraged. My mother was my nurturer and disciplinarian. She made the rules and my classmates and I followed them. We learned to love learning by the order and joy in which she presented ideas. We learned to play well together, listen well together, and perhaps most important try well together, all by the way she modeled it. She loved every one of us, meeting us where we were, challenging us, and expanding our horizons. Our house was always full of people, and I figured out my way among them early.
I also remember the feeling of belonging. I couldn’t articulate it at the time, but those who would become my teachers were teaching me long before I shared their classrooms or reported to their practices. I remember long, conversational dinners in our small dining room with English teachers, Spanish teachers, math teachers, coaches, and chaplains. The topic was always about kids and school life. I learned early that he best teachers are passionate, funny, smart, humble, and even a little mischievous, which I especially liked. They are story tellers, debaters, collaborators, and they are passionate about what they do because what they do is an expression of who they are.
I understand it is not typical to grow up in a school, but everyone should feel at home in one, and I believe my mother and father made that happen in the spaces they occupied. Quite simply, they invited people into their lives, worked hard on their behalf, and trusted that good things would come from that. Generosity is an excellent teacher.
Responsible for creating school culture, I have a good model to follow. In my family, school was life and life was school, so, like I have done here, I tend to lead with stories about the people and experiences that shaped me. I am often asked to engage within an hour with a 5th grader, a teacher, and a major donor, and I am happiest when I have to change gears quickly and meet people where they are. Doing this well requires ardor and elegance. I derive energy from it.
As a teacher and coach, I always hoped to inspire courage and confidence in my students. As a Head of School, my priorities remain the same, even though my responsibilities are broader and the challenges are different. The lessons I learned as a child still guide me, and I remain both humbled and exhilarated by the complexity and energy of the human endeavor that is school. It is within this environment that I am most at home.