May 8, 2020
A Message from Head of School Crissy Cáceres
I am thrilled to announce that Kamaya Prince Thompson will lead our oldest group of students as Head of Upper School beginning July 1, 2020. Kamaya will succeed Lisa Arrastia. Although we have only been in partnership for less than a year, I have grown to have deep respect for Lisa’s devotion to the experiences of teens within our school. She has sought to bring to the Upper School positive changes that have equated to immense growth that Kamaya is excited to build upon starting this coming school year.
Throughout Kamaya’s career, she has always believed that it is the job of educators to see each child in front of them as unique human beings that need our full attention and love. Kamaya comes to us from Hawken School in Cleveland, Ohio where she has served in varied roles in the last three years. As the Dean of DEIJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice) for Faculty Growth and Development, Kamaya works directly with faculty on professional growth, creating programming and curriculum for both students and adults. And with the strength and passion for educating children always at the forefront, Kamaya has continued to teach humanities and literature to Upper School students. Prior to her time at Hawken, Kamaya was the 11th grade Dean at Georgetown Day School where she also taught Upper School English. In addition to the diverse range of work that she’s been immersed in within schools, Kamaya has also shown a commitment to global education, designing and leading programs for students and educators in both Ghana and Tanzania.
In her virtual day of meetings with members of the BFS community, Kamaya’s experience in leading teachers through professional growth experiences and her love and care for students was palpable. Her expression of wanting both students and adults to be heard resonated with so many, who expressed that her leadership style embraces Quaker values and is paired with her extensive DEI work, both which are incredibly important for our school community.
Among the widespread feedback from Kamaya’s Virtual Visit Day were these comments:
“What a compelling speaker and inspiring individual. Kamaya’s personal story at the beginning really helped bring her own perspective to her work in educational leadership. There were many points discussed that I agree with, especially the relationship nature of working with adults and with children.” – Upper School Colleague
“Kamaya expressed joy in her work and deep understanding of building teams, community, and navigating challenges. She has experience in and understanding of the importance of making everyone feel “at home”, heard and included.” – Upper School Colleague
“Kamaya exhibits strong leadership, an inspiring commitment to the work of social justice, equity, and inclusion, and is someone I immediately felt I could trust with the care of our BFS community. During our time together, we spoke about leadership, instructional coaching, the important work of guiding and nurturing students’ passions, and the value of trust. Kamaya instills confidence and connection, and it would be a privilege to collaborate and lead with her as a colleague.” – Division Head
“Kamaya seems to understand both how to create an environment that will inspire a desire to learn in teenagers as well as confidence and trust from colleagues. I liked the way she put the needs of kids first, but connected their success to the entire school ecosystem.” – Parent
“I love what she said about listening first, engaging in the culture of the school, and seeing/getting to know every single student and faculty member. The more Kamaya talked about her experiences at the schools she has worked at in the past, the more confident I became that she would fit in perfectly at BFS.” – Student
“I loved Kamaya’s personality and vision for an effective educational environment. Kamaya seems like if she were in the position, she would be able to truly coach and work with students to make sure that they are performing the best that the students could and making sure the community is in the best state it can be.” – Student
Kamaya was appointed after a national search, which drew a diverse body of candidates interested in the role. Because of our unique virtual environment, our normal hiring process needed to be modified in order to ensure that all voices in our community were represented. All of the interviews took place over video conference, and I am grateful to those in our community who made the time to meet with the candidates. I am particularly appreciative of members of the Brooklyn Friends and Families Leadership Committee, who thoughtfully represented the voices of our parent body.
Following a very full day of interviews, feedback was sought, and after several days, all input was reviewed and taken into consideration during a final discernment process. The positive feedback on Kamaya’s behalf was resounding and every one of Kamaya’s references affirmed our belief that she will be a stellar and mission-centered leader within our community. We are delighted to have her join our community.
Throughout this process, I have been once again impressed by the commitment that is reflected in our community. Your dreams for the future of our Upper School, our colleagues and our students are deeply meaningful. Soon, we will be announcing opportunities for families to meet Kamaya virtually before we complete the school year. We look forward to seeing Kamaya this July, and I ask you to join me in welcoming her to our community.
In partnership and friendship,
Head of School
From Kamaya Prince Thompson
Dear Brooklyn Friends School Community,
It is an honor to be selected as the next Head of Upper School. I welcome this new opportunity with humility and with joy. In the days leading up to my virtual finalist day at BFS several weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect, and I left that day with an earnest appreciation and admiration for BFS. I also learned a great deal that day, and I am so happy that as of today, I can call myself a Panther and colleague.
BFS has an incredible student body that believes in and seeks out the goodness of everyone in their world. It has colleagues who come alive simply by being around kids, and a generous body of families who advocate both for the adults and their children. As a Quaker school, BFS is grounded in core values that are critically important in today’s world and which serve as centering tenets for all. Pedagogically, BFS has chosen a program and curriculum for the High School that was created so that people all over the world could have a myriad of both rich, experiential learning opportunities and a global mindset. The International Baccalaureate Program aligns with my experience in and advocacy for comprehensive globally minded education as a cornerstone of learning for young people, and I am excited to engage this with all of you. Alongside this, Brooklyn Friends has a Head of School who gives 100% to making sure that everyone within this sphere feels heard, seen, and valued. I am honored to work alongside Crissy who, I have gathered, gives everyone in the BFS community a chance to be a part of a body that operates outside the box of traditional learning.
On that day, I loved hearing and learning from you. What I was left with, just a short time ago, was a love for how Maura Eden delights in the “choreography of schools;” how Sara Soll appreciates how “BFS has and continues to hold up the brave” – both the adults and the students alike; how Jackie Condie notes that “there is a beauty in how we really see children and families;” how Angie Adams relishes the students’ love and commitment to activism, social justice, and their teachers; how Lisa Arrastia speaks of how funny the adults are; how Natania Kremer trusts in BFS’s commitment to solidarity-based, critical service learning, and how Terry Kung and Tiffany Huggins believe in a unified school community. From the thorough questions posed by parents, colleagues, and students, to the varied interviews with members of the Leadership Team throughout the day, I walked away feeling that what all of you have at BFS is magical! I look forward to entering Brooklyn Friends whole-heartedly with a commitment to inclusion, trust, respect, and love. I am ready to bask in and connect with your Divine Light, to cheer all of you on, and to work together to fulfill a powerful and much-needed mission.
I sincerely look forward to getting to know each and every one of you in the next few months. Until then, please know I, along with my husband, Jeremiah, and our daughters, Olivia, Zora, and Ruby, are truly excited to be a part of such an incredible community.
In friendship and with eternal gratitude,