Dr. Sally Maxwell Appointed Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning

Dear MICDS Community,

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Sally V. Maxwell to the role of Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning at MICDS, effective July 1, 2021.

Sally comes to MICDS from The Bush School in Seattle, Washington, where she currently serves as the Acting Middle School Director and Academic Dean. In these roles, she has led and supported the work of the department chairs, observed and coached members of the faculty, coordinated on- and off-campus professional growth opportunities for teachers, supported a variety of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, and contributed to numerous other academic and co-curricular programs. Sally also served on the design and implementation team for an experiential, interdisciplinary learning period similar to the Winter Term that we will inaugurate at MICDS in the 2022-23 school year. During the coronavirus pandemic, Sally has proved essential in leading The Bush School’s remote learning and return-to-campus planning efforts.

Our search process to fill the new Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning position was extensive. I conducted individual interviews with our department chairs and other school leaders to understand their hopes and expectations of the role. Approximately 80 candidates applied for the opening, of whom eight were advanced as semifinalists by members of our senior leadership team. Ultimately, I selected four finalists to interview for the position, and feedback about Sally’s conversations with a range of MICDS teachers and staff was overwhelmingly positive. “Sally comes across as collaborative, approachable, and steady,” one teacher summarized on reflection. Another described Sally as someone whose “passion for education is clear” and whose responses to interview questions “showed someone who is proactive, collaborative, insightful, and not afraid to tackle a difficult situation.”

Teaching and learning have been important in Sally’s life for many years, from her days as a student when she traveled an hour on a bus to attend school to serving as a classroom assistant at a Head Start preschool when she was 19. Sally earned her B.A. with honors in psychology from Tulane University and her masters in education and social policy with a concentration in secondary English at Northwestern University, and she holds a doctorate in teaching, learning, and curriculum from the University of Pennsylvania.

When you meet Sally, you will understand quickly that she values curiosity and collaboration. “To teach is to serve,” she says, “and leading our teachers means that I commit to their development, listen closely, appreciate them for what they do well, and support them in what they are not doing well—yet.” Coming from a JK-12 community, Sally appreciates spending time with students of all ages for nearly their entire childhoods and looks forward to continuing that work here at MICDS.

Sally has a warm and engaging presence that I know our community will appreciate, and that I am sure The Bush School will miss. Percy Abram, Head of School at Bush, said, “I so enjoy working with Sally. She is kind, funny, and blessed with a peerless intelligence that allows her to build and design effective programs, assess and refine curricula, and support and coach faculty to improve their practice in support of students and the school’s mission. Sally has left an indelible imprint on the school and she will be missed by peers, families, and students alike.”

Sally will be moving to St. Louis with her husband John, their two children, Bear (7) and Marvel (14), and their two cats, Pikachu and Charizard. She brings with her an avid and long-time love of comic books, gardening, and travel. She is looking forward to meeting the faculty, staff, students, parents, and trustees in the MICDS community, and eventually connecting with our alumni and other friends of the School as well.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Sally Maxwell and her family to St. Louis and to the MICDS community.

Jay Rainey
Head of School