Sally Keidel was warmly welcomed to campus on Tuesday, meeting with faculty, staff, and parents as she begins preparing for the transition into her new role as 14th Head of The Agnes Irwin School this July.
In some ways, her visit felt very familiar; Sally spent what she called “a tremendous seven years” at Agnes Irwin from 2007-2014 as Director of Admission and Financial Aid, as well as Assistant Head of School from 2012-2014. "Coming back to Agnes Irwin,” she told parents, “feels like coming home to me.”
During her visit on Tuesday, Sally enjoyed an afternoon meet-and-greet with faculty and staff, followed by an evening “fireside chat” with parents, during which she shared her leadership philosophy and hopes for Agnes Irwin’s future, while answering questions from the audience.
Sally shared that her initial impressions of Agnes Irwin — formed as a result of the confident, impressive tour guides who showed her the school during the 2006-2007 school year — still stand today. “I wondered, what is happening here that is making these girls who they are, and love this school so much?’” Sally recalled. "I have ... thought a lot about what the journey of a girl is through the Agnes Irwin experience, and I loved watching girls find their voice."
She ultimately credited the faculty and their role in the lives of students as a major factor in students’ growth. “Parents want their daughter to be known, loved, cared for, and treated as an individual. The faculty makes the difference,” she told parents. “The way the education is delivered at Agnes Irwin… that’s the special sauce.” “You,” she told faculty earlier in the day, “see possibilities and opportunities for [students] that they don’t even see in themselves. Because of your relationship and encouragement, these girls take the next step, they go out and do it, and do it successfully.”
During the spring, Sally will prepare for the upcoming transition by continuing to meet with Dr. Wendy Hill, as well as making three visits to campus, with a day dedicated to each division. She will spend time with administrators, visit classes, and get to know the girls. “I also want them to get to know me,” she explained. The value of relationships was something Sally stressed during her visit — both the partnership a school builds with parents in educating their daughters, as well as the importance of the relationships between those involved in the important work of that education.
“We are going to put in a lot of work,” she told the faculty, “but I hope you can sense from me and my energy how excited I am about Agnes Irwin.”