Headmaster Announces Retirement, Reflects on Time at Peddie
Green will be leaving at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.
Peddie School’s top administrator, who has developed the school over the past 11 years, will retire next year.
Head of School John Green, 54, delivered the news to the student body during a regularly scheduled all-school chapel meeting Friday morning, and a letter was emailed to parents and alumni. The board of trustees were also notified.
“My time at Peddie I consider the privilege of a lifetime,” Green told Patch on Friday afternoon. “I have loved my work and loved the place.”
Green said his departure comes from an institutional standpoint and personally – his tenure is almost twice the average as someone in his position and he has worked tirelessly to give everything he has to the school.
Since joining Peddie in 2001, Green said he has immersed himself in his role carrying out the school’s mission and vision. Some of his most visible accomplishments include the school’s investment of $65 million in facilities projects, including the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Science Center, Caspersen History House and the Ian H. Graham Athletic Center.
New playing fields were opened, and he increased the number of faculty living on campus. Green also hired more faculty members with advanced degrees and focused on professional development and retention, according to the school.
“He has worked himself to the bone day in and day out,” said Rosemary Gleeson, chaplain at Peddie. “Just incredibly driven and a hard worker who tried to work with every element of the community.”
Green said he will stay in New Jersey for a little while, but will probably end up back where he’s from in New England at some point.
“I don’t have a job or a plan, except that I would imagine, perhaps after a little rest and reflection, finding something where I could make a contribution to a community. That certainly has been the source of my enjoyment for 31 years,” Green said. He does not plan on serving as a headmaster again.
As far as his legacy, Green said there is no specific project he would like to see carried out but rather it should be the value of education students receive at the school, which has 550 students.
“Every time I hired someone I realized that in many cases they would be here longer than I am, and that if I have any legacy at all I’d prefer that legacy to be seen as having left the students a first-rate education as a result of having worked with a first-rate group of teachers, mentors, adults,” Green said.
When Green started at Peddie, the former head of the board of trustees Finn Caspersen, who died in 2009, told him, “If you stand still, you’re falling behind.” He plans to continue following that mantra through his last days at the school.
“Good schools are self critical, great schools think about how they can be 5 percent better every September. I have no doubt over the next 13 months I will push forward ideas or challenges or conversations that will need further debate and attention if we’re going to maintain a spirit of progress,” he said.
The board of trustees will meet over the weekend to develop a plan for a search process to fill the position. The school does not anticipate an interim head of school will be needed. Green said that, as per tradition, he does not expect to play a major role in the search process.
“I don’t think we can replace him. I think what we’ll try to do is find someone who has similar values, similar work ethic, but John isn’t really replaceable,” Gleeson said.
Gleeson, who has been at Peddie through four headmasters, said that although each one had very different personalities, they were all compassionate and loved kids. She said although it sounds cliché, Peddie is different from other boarding schools.
“I think the reason is there’s a real warmth at Peddie — and I don’t mean other schools don’t care about the kids, of course they do — but Peddie is a very non-snobby prep school. It has managed to maintain a humility and I think part of that comes from the headmasters,” she said.
Prior to joining Peddie, Green was dean of faculty, history department chair and director of admission at St. Paul’s School, and taught at Western Reserve Academy and the Fessenden School. Green holds master’s degree in education from Harvard University and a bachelor of arts from Wesleyan University.
“I would be remiss not to take the opportunity to thank all of those not only who supported me in my efforts to lead a great institution, but who also enriched my life in the work that I have loved.”
Green and his wife, Alison, live in Hightstown and have three grown sons.
This story was originally published on Friday at 10:55 a.m. and updated at 7:15 p.m.