Following the departure of Former Head of School John Palfrey, the Board of Trustees appointed Jim Ventre ’79 as the Interim Head of School for the 2019-2020 school year. The search for Andover’s next Head of School will be lead by Amy Falls ’82, P’19, P’21, President-elect of the Board, who will be assisted by many faculty members, administrators, and trustees.
Ventre has several main responsibilities as Interim Head of School: keeping the school running, helping fundraise for the continuation of the need-blind admissions process, and continuing to support the students in all aspects, according to Jennifer Elliott ’94, Assistant Head of School for Residential Life and Dean of Students. During his tenure, Ventre has started the first ever all-faculty opening of school meeting.
Ventre said, “What I’m most excited for is the inspiration that I find with our students, faculty, administrators, and staff. The people of Andover, that’s always been a part of my life that I’ve gravitated towards. And the example I would give you is the grand opening of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library…I teared up because I was so happy for the students who recognized that Andover made this investment for them.”
Elliott said, “I feel like [Ventre] is such an ideal person to do this because he really knows our new students. He played such an active role in bringing in our newest classes and he knows those kids and those families really well, so I feel like that’s helpful for them to transition to a new school.”
Tracy Sweet, Director of Academy Communications, has worked with Ventre for many years, and echoed Elliott’s support of him as Interim Head of School.
Sweet wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “Mr. Ventre is a thoughtful leader, a dedicated team player, and a visionary, always thinking of ways to make Andover even stronger. He also has a deep history with the school, which will be a huge advantage when faced with important choices and difficult decisions as interim head.”
Many students, like Mike Gallagher ’20, recognized the importance of the Head of School position that Ventre has to fill. Gallagher expressed how he originally had concerns about how Palfrey’s role would be replaced.
“At first I was pretty worried, because I think everybody would understand how much of an impact Mr. Palfrey has had on Andover and on the students as well. But when I saw how active Mr. Ventre was in really trying to integrate into the Andover community as not a separate Head of School but someone who is part of the community, I was sort of relieved to see that we had someone who could fill the position very well.”
Along with Palfrey, Peter Currie ’74 also left his position as President of the Board of Trustees this year. Falls was elected unanimously to be his successor and will become the first woman to ever lead the Board of Trustees. Ventre is excited for this transition of leadership, and views it as the next step for the school to take.
“It’s a wonderful new beginning for the school, it’s the next generation of leaders. The part that’s exciting is that Amy has a great sense of what is good for Andover. So do I. And we exchange on ideas and direction, and I am confident in her leadership to establish this relationship with the next head. Even in her role as leading the search, she doesn’t get to decide alone. She decides with the group, but I’m so pleased she has that opportunity,” said Ventre.
Ventre plans to continue the traditions of the Head of School from past years, including Head of School Day.
He said, “There will be a Head of School Day. I haven’t yet decided how I’m going to work that out…I’m open to feedback, but I do have some impressions of what I think it might look like when we get there.”
Ventre says that another question he often gets asked is if he is moving into Phelps House. According to Ventre, Phelps house is being renovated and getting new electricity and heating facilities.
Ventre said, “There will be certain changes here and there, but essentially, I have been saying publicly and privately that my mission is the mission of Andover, my values are the values of Andover, and my strategic plan is the strategic plan of Andover. That hasn’t changed. That was true when Mr. Palfrey was here and that’s true today.”