2023-24 Welcome from 14th Head of The Agnes Irwin School, Sally Keidel
Agnes Irwin remains highly, and increasingly, sought after by prospective families. We maintain a consistent upward trajectory with overall enrollment up and numerous grades boasting waiting lists. Enrollment across the school – and particularly in our Lower School – is as high as it has been in nearly a decade. Our strong enrollment is complimented by upholding competitive standards for admission. A prospective student is only offered admission if we truly believe that she is ready to balance the challenging academics, social and emotional maturity, and peer collaboration that is necessary to succeed at Agnes Irwin.
Welcome to the 2023-24 school year! I hope you and your families enjoyed the summer months. For me, this time was busy with family plans, as well as preparing for the school year at Agnes Irwin. This fall, our son started his senior year and our daughter will be a 9th grader here at AIS. It hit home how fleeting these precious childhood years are. I wondered, have we done enough? Are they prepared for the milestones ahead? While we as parents cannot fully answer these questions, we hope to feel confident that the decisions we have made for our children have been right for them, including trusting the schools we have chosen as a family.
At Agnes Irwin, our hallmark is a shared vision for the girls. In the Agnes Irwin walls, we are committed to providing your daughters with a challenging and invigorating learning experience that encourages her to think deeply and drives her curiosity. At the same time, we value the opportunity to see and care for her every day, so that when she leaves these walls, she is confident, wise, bold, and equipped for the path she chooses. As parents, faculty and staff, we are best working together toward this shared vision — one that goes far beyond the textbooks.
AN EXCITING TIME AT AIS
At this time last year, it was exciting to be heading into a limitation-free school year. I could not have imagined the tremendous success and new heights that the Agnes Irwin community would achieve in the 2022-23 school year. In hindsight, it was as though our students, faculty, parents, and community were like runners on their marks, and the start of our school year was go time. From September to June, the sprint of hard work, authentic academic engagement, peer collaboration, community contribution, and our signature Irwin’s spirit yielded incredible outcomes.
Specifically, Agnes Irwin remains highly, and increasingly, sought after by prospective families. We maintain a consistent upward trajectory with overall enrollment up and numerous grades boasting waiting lists. Enrollment across the school – and particularly in our Lower School – is as high as it has been in nearly a decade. Our strong enrollment is complimented by upholding competitive standards for admission. A prospective student is only offered admission if we truly believe that she is ready to balance the challenging academics, social and emotional maturity, and peer collaboration that is necessary to succeed at Agnes Irwin.
THIS YEAR’S CORE VALUE: NURTURING PASSIONS AND WELLBEING
When engaging with our parents, students, faculty, and alumnae in surveys and in person, it is clear to me that we all see the prioritization of student wellness as necessary for academic and long-term success. Our newest core value speaks to Agnes Irwin’s traditional pursuit of academic excellence balanced with nurturing the whole child, but we are proud to have made the commitment official. Setting the right conditions for each girl to discover her passions and achieve her goals starts with being mentally fortified and prepared to strive for excellence in the classroom, on stage, or on the field. We will share this work with you over the course of the school year and are always open to your feedback about how best to support our girls — their wellbeing is of paramount importance to all of us.
FACULTY & STAFF UPDATES
In just over a week, our faculty and staff will return to campus to reconnect and prepare for the students’ arrival. As educators, it is an exciting time as we thoughtfully put the finishing touches on lesson planning and classroom spaces. Nineteen talented new faculty and staff members will be joining the AIS community this year. We know you will be as impressed as we are with their extensive experience in their respective disciplines. Nearly 20 summer growth grants were awarded to over 40 faculty members. Returning faculty are energized by new strategies and knowledge gained during this work, which included social and emotional learning action proposals, the creation of a digital research handbook, and updates to the History, English, Latin, and theater curriculums.
As always, we welcome the girls bounding through the doors, filling the halls with the energy that only childhood and adolescence can bring. The hugs, welcomes to new students, and enthusiasm for the year ahead will bring us all together in our shared vision. It is my hope that we continue the community-wide collaboration, engagement, and passion that we saw last year. In the meantime, please know that my door is open.
Sally Keidel returned to AIS after serving as Head of The Montgomery School, a PreK-Grade 8 school in Chester Springs, PA. During her six years as Head of School, Sally embraced the leadership opportunities and challenges inherent in heading a school, leading Montgomery through a visionary strategic plan, implementing a faculty evaluation system, and working closely with the Board of Trustees on a tuition-lowering initiative that led to significant enrollment growth.
Sally, who holds a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania, has enjoyed success in a variety of roles throughout her nearly 30-year career in education — from teacher, to director of residential life, to admissions director. Prior to assuming headship of The Montgomery School, she served as Assistant Head of The Agnes Irwin School from 2012-2014, as well as Director of Admission and Financial Aid from 2007-2014.
"During the search process, Sally impressed us with her clear vision for the future of our school and a love for this community that has never wavered," wrote former Board of Trustees Chair Ginny Sharp Williams ’88. "Confident, yet gracious, and a self-described 'connector,' Sally looks forward to reuniting with our community and leading us into our next 150 years."
Watch Sally speaking with her daughter (and AIS Upper Schooler) Maggie