A Note from Melissa Carroll, Incoming Head of PFS

Melissa Carroll
Dear Princeton Friends School Community,

It is with great enthusiasm that I accept the invitation to serve as the second Head of Princeton Friends School at this important juncture in the school’s history.

As I look to the future, I am reminded of a memory from long ago. One afternoon, as a young child, I was along for the ride as my mother ran errands about town. In the back seat, my siblings and I began dreaming aloud about what we were going to be when we grew up. My younger brother announced he was going to be a bulldozer. We giggled at the prospect. My sister said she was going to be a piano player. No surprise, as she was enthusiastically taking lessons. I shared that I wanted to be a teacher. From behind the wheel, my mother said with great pride, “I think you will be a wonderful teacher.”

I’ve held on to that affirmation ever since. Over the past 23 years, as I’ve pursued a life of teaching and leading, I have witnessed the profound impact an independent school and its community can have on a child, and I have come to understand the necessity of teaching and leading with vigor. As a student teacher at Abington Friends School, I discovered the power of celebrating the individual spirit of every child. At Newtown Friends, I taught and nurtured intergenerational relationships to help students grow deeper understandings. At Buckingham Friends, as Assistant Head, I partnered with faculty to delve into best practices and develop curriculum. And, as the Director of Beginning and Lower School at the Swain School, I’ve fostered a respect for diversity and a culture of learning through research partnerships and professional development. These formative experiences have helped to solidify my understanding about education and define a path forward.

Today, I continue this journey in the most enriching and fulfilling capacity. My vision for Princeton Friends School is to engage the community in vigorous pursuit of learning and to continue to build on the school’s progressive foundation to drive commitment, create meaningful learning, maintain and celebrate a standard of excellence, connect present to future, and transcend status quo.
My mission is to lead in a manner that is energizing, meaningful, and motivating. To model practices that are deeply rooted in what is best for children. To enlist the individual, as well as the community. To value diversity of thought, foster initiative, and require accountability. To inspire inquiry, research, and reflection.

Burt Nanus writes, “A vision is little more than an empty dream until it’s widely shared and accepted.” I look to you, the Princeton Friends community, to join me in this joyful pursuit of learning, and to inspire others to partner with us in fulfilling the community’s shared vision for the school. I am eager to meet students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and Friends as I begin to transition into my new role in the coming months.

I am sincerely grateful for the time and care that the School Committee, Interim Head Angela DeGraff, parents, students, faculty and staff, and Princeton Monthly Meeting invested in the search process. The level of inclusivity and thoroughness with which it unfolded is both impressive and encouraging. Thank you for this invitation to serve. I am humbled and honored, as I wait with great anticipation.

Melissa Carroll
A progressive, Quaker day school welcoming students in Pre-K through 8th grade to our historic Princeton campus nestled in the woods.