Temba Maqubela Named Groton School Headmaster

After his 26th year on the faculty, Temba Maqubela, Dean of Faculty and Assistant Head of Academics, will leave Andover to become the eighth Headmaster of the Groton School on July 1, 2013. His wife, Vuyelwa “Vuvu” Maquebla, Instructor in English, will also be leaving Andover.

Temba Maqubela was notified of his appointment as Headmaster of Groton on Wednesday and is traveling to Groton with his family for the official announcement today. The Andover community received the news on Thursday via an e-mail from Head of School John Palfrey.

“[Groton] is an incredible school… I’ve been at Andover for 25 years, and as you probably know, my heart is blue. I don’t think changing from a blue heart to a different colored heart is a problem after 25 years. [Becoming Headmaster at Groton] was just an opportunity I could not refuse,” said Maqubela.

“It’s still very unreal… when you’ve been in a place [for so long]… I came here when my youngest son was not even born. I don’t know of any other place that I can call home. But I will have to learn quickly to call Groton home,” he continued.

Maqubela said that he was attracted to Groton’s history and strategic plan.

“[Groton has] an incredible strategic plan that really speaks to and suits my taste,” he said.

“For example, [Groton’s] strategic plan emphasizes not only critical thinking but also problem solving and…. I like that. They also emphasize a STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] education. They emphasize the global perspective [and] all of those things are things here at Andover,” he continued.

Maqubela will succeed Richard Commons, current Headmaster of Groton, who will become President of Harvard Westlake School in Los Angeles, Calif. Commons announced his resignation on April 9 of this year, according to a letter sent to the Groton community last spring.

James Bundy, Groton Class of 1977, chaired Groton’s Leadership Succession Committee for the Headmaster search.

The Leadership Succession Committee sought a headmaster who would embody Groton’s mission to be an “intimate and diverse community dedicated to inspiring lives of character, learning, leadership and service,” according to a letter to the Groton community from James Higgins, President of the Groton Board of Trustees, announcing Maqubela’s appointment.

“Groton’s leader must have intellectual depth and curiosity; be decisive yet dedicated to collaboration; engage the School community warmly, as family; possess a comforting core of spiritual grounding and discovery; and exhibit unceasing drive for excellence, open access, and an appreciation of the world around us. Temba Maqubela is such a person,” the letter said.

“Temba and Vuvu have been devoted members of the Andover community for 25 years, serving in classrooms, in the dorms and on the athletic fields,” wrote Palfrey in his e-mail to students.

“I will miss them both, not only for their contributions to PA’s programs and unwavering commitment to students, but for their shared enthusiasm, kindness, and generous spirit,” continued Palfrey.

Vuvu Maqubela joined the Andover English Department faculty in 2008 and has taught at the (MS)2 program and served as co-director of Andover Bread Loaf with Lou Bernieri.

In addition to serving as Dean of Faculty since 2004 and Assistant Head of Academics since 2006 at Andover, Temba Maqubela has taught in the Chemistry department since 1987.

“I hope I can teach Orgo [Organic Chemistry] [at Groton]. I hope that there will be a class there that I can teach in and do all kinds of things,” said Maqubela.

Temba Maqubela has also helped to conceive and launch the ACE Scholars Program in 2007 and led development of the Global Perspectives Group (GPG). He also served as director of (MS)2 from 2001 to 2004.

“I’ve had 26 years of deep, deep relations with the students, faculty, staff, faculty kids, and I’ll miss the people the most, and I’ll miss Andover’s never fading desire to constantly improve itself. To constantly look for something more to improve and to lead and to shape the direction of education as a private school with a public purpose. I hope that where I’m going there’ll be room for that,” said Maqubela.

“I think I’ll miss the people because the people embody the place… I’ll miss the incredibly diverse group of people who have accepted me the way I am… I’ll miss being a teacher where colleagues actually understand that what I’m looking for is constant improvement and taking the bar high and the fact that [at Andover] we can teach students and that we can also learn from the students,” he continued.

“I’m graduating with the Class of ’13,” Maqubela said of his departure. He hopes to receive a diploma when he leaves Andover because he does not hold a high-school diploma, as he went into exile from apartheid-era South Africa before graduating from high-school.

After Maqubela graduated from the University of Kentucky he taught in Botswana for two years and in New York City for one year before coming to Andover. He was drawn to Andover because of the freedom and opportunity the school presented him with.

“When I started orgo, orgo only had five students when it started, but we were able to build this generation of organic chemistry students … and I saw what they were learning and I said, ‘Oh, this is possible.’ So I fell in love with Andover that way,” he said.

I think freshness is good in life. It changes life. And as one of my former students, Drew Chin, said, ‘It’s time for me to take my leave of absence to another place because I’ve done the best for Andover.’ As much as I’ll miss Andover, all three of my kids came here. I’m not really leaving Andover—I’m just going to Groton.”