Over winter break, Jane Fried, Dean of Admission and Assistant Head for Enrollment, Research and Planning, and Mark Efinger ’74, Instructor in Theatre and Dance, announced their departures from Andover to accept Head of School positions at other institutions. Beginning in July, Fried will assume the post of the fifteenth Head of School at The Brearley School, a private girls school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, while Efinger will take the helm at the Academy at Charlemont, a small day school in western Massachusetts.
The Andover community wishes these two committed members congratulations and the best of luck as they say farewell and move on to their next adventures in education. Beyond benediction, students and faculty send them off with confidence knowing they have absorbed the spirit of Andover.
Andover and each of its peer schools instills a particular spirit, the philosophy of thinking that overarches the content of classes, the common understanding and growth that the school promises to impart. Exeter offers a particularly tangible example. The Harkness method of instruction connects classes of all disciplines. According to the Exeter website it is “a way of being: interacting with other minds, listening carefully, speaking respectfully, accepting new ideas and questioning old ones, using new knowledge, and enjoying the richness of human interaction.”
Andover’s spirit is just as ubiquitous but harder to identify because it is derived from the lack of structure rather than a particular symbol. As much as is possible for a boarding school, Andover emphasizes freedom and choice, particularly in the realm of academics. Classes like the fall term Bob Dylan Seminar and “Steal this Course” are examples of the academic variety and flexibility available to students. Nearly every student has at least one friend engaging in an independent project, another measure of academic pliability.
This spirit of flexibility and diversity, while most visible in the context of academics, is present in other facets of Andover as well. Students appreciate the freedom to dress how they please. This is not to say there are no merits to school uniforms, simply to say that at Andover, choice and freedom are valued over continuity and coherence.
This theme of exploration and experiment does not characterize every aspect of the school completely. Students still enjoy the traditional bagpipes at matriculation and commencement, but a sense of outward growth and individual freedom are critical pieces of the spirit of Andover.
Beyond an appreciation of freedom, choice and individuality, what does the Andover spirit instill in the faculty and students who move on from this place to other venues, as Fried and Efinger ’74 are about to do? It instills the skill to navigate any framework of choices with awareness of purpose. We send Fried and Efinger off with confidence knowing they are individuals who can make clear decisions to usher in growth and exploration at Brearley and Charlemont.
This Editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXIV.