A Letter from Head of School Sally Keidel
JULY 1, 2020
Sally B. Keidel began her tenure as 14th Head of The Agnes Irwin School on July 1, 2020. Below, read the letter she shared with the AIS community.
Today, I gratefully and humbly begin my tenure as the 14th Head of School of The Agnes Irwin School. I have been eagerly anticipating this day as Agnes Irwin means so much to me. This mission of educating girls in research-based methods — truly taking into account “how girls learn best” — is so important. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of every girl’s AIS experience, and to watch as she develops her voice, sharpens her confidence, broadens her perspective, takes risks that help her to achieve new heights, and grows into a leader. We are so fortunate to be part of every girl’s development at this critical stage.
I was selected for this position in December, and in the months since that time, our world has become a very different place. COVID-19 changed the way our school delivered on its educational mission this spring, and will continue to impact school operations this coming school year. Frustration and rightful anger at institutional racism and inherent privilege have yielded extensive and vital protests across the nation and also on the Main Line, further clarifying the work we must undertake to make Agnes Irwin a safer and more equitable place for the Black and Brown members of our community.
There is much work to be done — but far from intimidating me, these challenges have actually fortified my resolve to engage fully with all constituents of the AIS community so that real and needed change can happen. We will not shy away from these needed efforts, nor will we rush through them; together, we will work carefully and methodically to make lasting, legitimate change. We must do all of this work keeping in mind the mission of the School and living into the core values of excellence, community, character, and respect. I am committed to working together with our students, families, alumnae, faculty, staff, administration, and trustees to continue the excellent academic program for the years ahead, and build a better school for the School’s 151st year and beyond. Working with shared vision and hope, we can do amazing things together.
I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to Dr. Wendy Hill for the work we have done together over the last six months to prepare for the transition of leadership. Her steady and thoughtful leadership has carried Agnes Irwin through the last six years and I feel fortunate for our connection and communication.
As I begin my tenure this summer, I will spend much of it working from my office on campus. I thrive on personal connection, and plan to engage in conversations with as many members of the community as possible — online or in person, as the environment allows. I’m looking forward to hearing about individual community members’ connections to the School, as well as learning more about how I can best serve all members of our school community. I feel very fortunate to do this work on behalf of the girls. I also believe that, given the significant work ahead, there is no way I can succeed alone. You, as parents, faculty, administrators, staff, trustees, alumnae, and the school community at large, are needed voices as we work together to learn, to lead, and to live a legacy.
I also prioritize communication. We cannot effectively create solutions to the problems and opportunities in front of us without establishing what the issues are and then, with clear and plain language, stating directly how we will convert intent into positive momentum. Engaging with the community is key, and you will be hearing from me regularly in the months ahead.
This moment and this responsibility have been presented to me at an ideal time in my career. I have both depth and breadth of experience in school leadership, and the time I have spent leading schools has heightened my passion and enthusiasm for this work. Assuming this position at The Agnes Irwin School is a homecoming for me. I am so excited to be back with you, and I promise to work tirelessly to make our school better every day. I look forward to the days ahead when we can all come back together and move AIS forward as one.
Sally B. Keidel
Head of School