Community Reacts to Appointment of Dr. Raynard S. Kington as 16th Head of School

Dr. Raynard S. Kington will be visiting campus today, his first trip to campus since he was declared Andover’s 16th Head of School on December 5. A search committee of eight trustees and five faculty members made the decision, led by Amy Falls ’82, President-elect of the Board of Trustees.

According to Falls, Kington stood out to the search committee because his personal values aligned with Andover’s founding values. She felt that Kington’s career in education and the medical field exemplified phrases like Non Sibi, Youth From Every Quarter, and Equity and Inclusion.

“Andover has a very clear sense of its character: Non Sibi, Youth from Every Quarter, Equity and Inclusion. All those phrases really have meaning for the Andover community, so it was very important to us to find someone whose personal values resonated with the institutional values that we all treasure, and that is unquestionably the case with Raynard…Everything he’s done has supported this notion of someone who cares about making the world a better place,” said Falls.

Kington was a stand-out applicant early in the process, according to Falls.

“[Kington’s] academic credentials are clearly phenomenal. We also felt that it was a good time to have a [Head of School with a] background in wellness and health… His thoughtfulness, his incisive thinking, his compassion and empathy for kids and human beings, and his commitment to education and the importance of education as a means of social mobility and equity just resonated so powerfully with everybody that met him,” said Falls.

The search process came in many stages, according to Falls. In May, Falls announced the search with an email to the Andover community. Out of approximately 300 candidates, the search committee chose 17 to meet with in person. That pool was narrowed down to nine people for more rounds of meetings and then to three finalists before Kington was elected unanimously by the board.

“We ran an extensive global search. We spent the first part of the process meeting with various constituents, alumni, students, faculty, and even prior heads to understand and try to get a common vision of what people felt the school needed, so there was a lot of time spent listening and thinking about what the school wanted in its next leader. We then crafted a very detailed job description which was posted on the internet and circulated to a wide variety of educational leaders,” said Falls.

The faculty on the search committee included Sean Logan, Dean of College Counseling; Sheena Hilton, Flagstaff Cluster Dean; Caroline Odden, Department Chair of Natural Sciences; Christoper Jones, Department Chair of History and Social Sciences; and LaShawn Springer, the Director of the Community and Multicultural Development Office and Associate Director of College Counseling.

Although Kington has not had experience in secondary school education, Hilton believes that Kington’s experience as President of Grinnell College will benefit Andover.

“It’s a real strength to have someone who is so experienced in another realm of the educational world… because there are things to learn from the college world that can be applied here…I see it as a plus, and his commitment to institutions and his commitment to young people don’t have me concerned about whether he’s going to get to high school and say, ‘Why am I here?’” said Hilton.

The search committee felt that Kington “resonates with knowledge and goodness,” according to Springer. Additionally, Springer believes that Kington’s experience leading a diverse community at Grinnell will help shape his interactions with the Andover community.

“I’m excited to think about how he [leads a diverse group] here in our community, especially as we have an election coming up and the world is what it is right now. I think it’s really important actually to have a leader who can really speak to those things in ways that will reach a wide demographic,” said Springer.

Logan explained that Kington’s medical background and experience with issues of mental health distinguished him from other candidates. According to Jones, the search committee regularly brought up this topic during the interviewing process of the search.

“It’s a big concern of every secondary school and every college out there…His medical background is significant… I think the subject came up almost every time, if not every time, and so that was a big deal to the search committee,” said Jones.

Alana Yang ’21 is optimistic for Kington’s tenure as Head of School and is particularly hopeful for students to get to know him. Yang is also excited for the historic nature of Kington’s appointment, as Kington will be the first person of color and the first openly gay person to serve as Head of School.

Yang said, “I’m really excited to have him as the new Head of School. He seems, as a person, like a really well-intentioned, very nice, and friendly person that I think the students will grow to become close to. And he also has just been very qualified as a president of a college, and also in his academic field, and also just seeing the historical waves he’s made as the first person of color Head of School and also the first [LGBTQIA+ Head of School]. So that, I think, is really exciting.”

Rachel Murree ’14, Teaching Fellow in Philosophy and Religious Studies, is ready to see Kington’s new and unique vision for the school’s future. She is also looking forward to having the new energy of his family on campus.

“I think having a young family on campus is exciting. I know that he has written a lot in various publications about his views on education or various social issues, so that’s pretty interesting and exciting…I have heard he’s a great storyteller, which is kind of fun. I think that he could be really great at All-School Meetings and bringing the community together in various ways through his love of learning and telling stories,” said Murree.

Jones is looking forward to the new direction Kington that will take the school.

“[Kington will] bring a different style of leadership, and we’re ready for something different, which is not to criticize anything before, but that’s one of the great rejuvenating things about having a new Head of School is they bring a different outlook. They bring different questions to the community. They bring different personality, and they bring different expertise,” said Jones.

John Palfrey P’21 P’23, Andover’s 15th Head of School, is also excited for Kington’s coming tenure.

“I couldn’t be more delighted that Dr. Kington will be the 16th Head of School at [Andover]. He is an extraordinary intellectual who is widely regarded as a national leader in education. I have personally enjoyed each of my interactions with Dr. Kington and have every confidence that he and his family will come to love the job and life on campus at Andover, as I and my family did,” wrote Palfrey in an email to The Phillipian.