The Washington Market nursery school has a new director. Ronnie Moskowitz, the founding director, is retiring after nearly 50 years as director of the school! Many of the established nursery schools in the City were started in the 60's and 70's, and many of the long-time directors are retiring right about now, whether they were founding directors or hired early in the school's history.
When I work with parents to create their list of schools of interest for their children, they often worry about schools undergoing a change of leadership. I encourage parents to keep these schools on their lists. Most schools, and especially the long-time, well established schools, have a very strong culture of the school that is carried not only by the director but also by teachers, administrative staff, boards of directors, and families. Schools are very thoughtful in their hiring and in their transitions. Ronnie, for example, will continue at Washington Market for the coming year as Director of Ex-missions, and will support the new director, Carrie Kries, as she takes on her new role. Having Ronnie continue as Director of Ex-missions is an especially thoughtful decision as it makes sense for her to work on Ex-Missions with families and children she has known through their children's time at Washington Market. Presumable, Carrie will take on the Ex-Missions part of the Director role next year, when she has had a chance to get to know the children and families.
Another way schools often ensure continuity when there is a change of director is by hiring someone from within the school who has been working alongside the departing directly for awhile. For example, when Pat Pell retired several years ago from Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church nursery school, she was followed by Laura Graham, who had been Pat's assistant director, and before that a teacher at the school. Everyone at the school--and many of us in the world of NYC nursery schools, including the ongoing schools--knew Laura. The culture of the school has continued undisrupted, with the inevitable infusion of fresh energy that comes with a new person.
If you are interested in a school that is in process of changing directors, you will want to learn as much as you can about the process: Where is the school in the hiring process? Does the departing director plan to continue in a supporting role for a transition period? At what point in the admissions cycle does the school expect to finalize the new hire--ie., will you have a chance to meet the new director before you sign a contract? I am happy to guide you in getting the information you need to feel comfortable--or decide you don't feel comfortable--with a change. But overall, I strongly advise you keep schools undergoing transitions on your list unless you acquire actual information that leads you to decide otherwise.
Emily Shapiro advises New York City parents who are navigating the nursery and independent school admissions process, through her business, Emily Shapiro Consulting.