In June 2019, Dr. Larry Weiss will retire after 10 years in his role as Brooklyn Friends School’s Head of School.
In preparation for his departure, the Board of Trustees will establish a search committee, led by trustees Macon Jessop, parent of a Middle and Upper Schooler and William Morris, retired head of Friends Academy. The committee will include stakeholders of the BFS community. The Board is currently conducting a search for a consultant to manage the process.
This page will be updated regularly.
Head of School retirement announcement from the Board of Trustees and Dr. Larry Weiss
Message from the Board of Trustees:
It is with great respect, admiration, and regret that we want to inform the community that Dr. Larry Weiss will be retiring from his position as Head of School at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.Upon his arrival in 2010, Dr. Weiss took control of an ambitious new Strategic Plan. Since that time, he has guided our community through robust enrollment growth— re-visioning and moving the Family Center, adding many new students per grade, and overseeing the repurposing and modernization of 375 Pearl Street to accommodate that growth. Brooklyn Friends School is now one of the largest independent Quaker K-12 schools in the United States. Moreover, Dr. Weiss has expanded and consolidated our renowned International Baccalaureate Program in the Upper School to maintain Brooklyn Friends’ well-earned reputation for academic excellence.
In addition, Dr. Weiss presided over what, in retrospect, will surely be seen as his greatest challenge and triumph—acquiring, renovating, and opening the high school facility on Lawrence Street. As part of this effort, he led the school through a successful capital campaign, raising more than $7 million dollars.
Strategic plans can often be merely aspirational. But as even this cursory summary attests, Dr. Weiss has successfully stewarded our community as it gradually achieved each of the goals listed in the 2008 Strategic Plan, and then some. In short, the school we all know and love today owes much to his steady hand, deep experience, and sound judgment.
Some other notable accomplishments of Dr. Weiss’ are the establishment of the school’s first-ever Office of Diversity (now the Office of Equity and Inclusion), and his overseeing of the Quaker self-study in 2012 that made the understanding of Quakerism and its central role in the school more robust and universal. He also oversaw the school’s successful ten-year NYSAIS re-accreditation. All the while, Dr. Weiss maintained his connection to students by teaching Theory of Knowledge, a critical class that is part of the International Baccalaureate Program.
To be sure, Dr. Weiss’ accomplishments at Brooklyn Friends School are many. We would like to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to Larry for guiding our school over the last eight years.
In the coming 16 months, the Board, Dr. Weiss, and the community at large will work judiciously and diligently to find a successor who can continue his proud tradition. As Dr. Weiss’ transformative time at Brooklyn Friends comes to a close, we look forward to engaging the community in that vital effort, and to enthusiastically embarking with you on a new era and the many new exciting experiences it will bring. During that time, we also hope to find multiple opportunities—both big and small— to celebrate Dr. Weiss’ historic tenure.
We will be in touch to keep the community informed about the search process as we continue to celebrate our Sesquicentennial.
Steve Burwell and Ed Oliver
Co-Chairs, Board of Trustees
Message from Dr. Larry Weiss
It is with deepest gratitude that I was given the opportunity to return to Brooklyn Friends School in 2010 after a 31-year absence. I offer my most profound thanks to those students, graduates, faculty and staff members, parents, grandparents, and Trustees with whom I had the special pleasure to work over the past 8 years to achieve fulfillment of the highly ambitious goals of the 2008 and 2009 Strategic Plans for BFS.
The Strategic Plans called for massive, school-wide growth and improvements in facilities, financial condition, enrollment, curriculum, working conditions, student support, diversity and inclusion in student, faculty, and administrative constituencies, and the institution-wide commitment to strengthened Quaker values and practices.
The fulfillment of such ambitious goals would allow, and has in fact allowed, BFS to move from an environment of survival-mandated growth and development to long-term sustainability as a valued and respected member of the New York State Independent School, Friends Council on Education, and International Baccalaureate Organization constituencies.
The challenges of achieving simultaneous enrollment growth (increasing more than 40% over the past 8 years); comprehensive facilities improvement; and dramatic increases in capital and operational fund raising, all proved enormous.
So, too, did the development of new academic initiatives. These included, to name just a few, K-12 Spanish language instruction; moving from Community Service to a nationally-recognized Service Learning program; expanding our Family Center program for 2-year olds; and making a full commitment to the International Baccalaureate course curriculum for all 11th and 12th graders.
Such accomplishments could never have been achieved without the prodigious commitments of faculty and staff talent, energy, and follow-through along with the strong support of a generation of generous, supportive, and welcoming parents.
Having met such challenges, the BFS stage is now set to move from rapid expansion and growth to long-term sustainability. Such sustainability will require continuous improvement of school-wide academic programs and their delivery; a strengthened and endowed capital base; a comprehensive ongoing commitment to inclusion and social justice; and a student/faculty/parent culture that welcomes evolutionary change in a friendly and Friendly manner.
In my own life, as I embark on my seventh decade when I retire from my Head of School position in 2019, sustainability will mean returning to my greatest sources of joy–my growing family that will soon include three grandchildren–and the profession of teaching that I have continuously practiced since 1973 at the secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels. The life of the mind, and the love of working with creative, challenging, and dedicated student hearts and minds, will always beckon.
Dr. Larry Weiss
Head of School