It is with a mixture of sadness and gratitude that I acknowledge Bart Baldwin’s decision to retire from St. Luke’s School at the end of the 2022-23 academic year. I suspect you also feel both emotions. Through Bart’s tireless work and extraordinary vision, St. Luke’s finds itself blessed with a strong community of faculty and parents that are deeply invested in serving children well. We thank him for his amazing leadership and service and are buoyed by his ongoing presence through June 2023.
How could we not be sad?! Under Bart’s leadership over the past 15 years, St. Luke’s has firmly positioned itself for future success while always striving to uphold our values. We have grown from a tiny school of fewer than 200 students to a small school of 340 students. Bart has fearlessly led us through two major capital campaigns and the corresponding facility expansions. We have continued to deepen our commitment to diversity, equity, and justice through intentionally examining our hiring practices, committee structures, board composition, and the day-to-day experiences of all students and faculty at our beloved school. Our commitment to socio-economic diversity has also remained steadfast with almost $3 million awarded financial aid this year.
Last year, we underwent our decennial New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) accreditation process and received stellar results from an independent evaluation committee. They commented, “Across all grade-levels from JK to Grade Eight, the program and pedagogy reflects a community of professionals who know and love children.” This accreditation report is a testimony to Bart’s work.
In addition, Bart led us through a global pandemic with far-reaching vision, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a can-do attitude that was pervasive throughout the entire faculty. At Bart’s insistence, every decision we made centered around the question, “What is best for our children?” He listened to parents, doctors, teachers, and children and figured out how to keep our children learning in person while always weighing the safety and risks to our community.
However, in addition to being sad, I am also grateful. As I reflect on what has been accomplished over the past 15 years under Bart’s guidance, I also look ahead to the possibilities of the next 15 years. The Board’s job is to govern for the future. St. Luke’s operates today from a position of strength. We are clear on our mission. We have amazing faculty that seek to learn and grow. We have a strong partner in St. Luke’s Church in the Fields. We have beautiful facilities. We have a diverse and vibrant parent community that is generous with their time and financial resources.
The Board and Bart are committed to ensuring a smooth transition. Bart has thoughtfully provided the Board with significant advance notice. We have retained RG175, a nationally recognized firm specializing in Head of School placements. A representative committee will be assembled of board members, alumnae/i, parents, faculty, and the Rev. Caroline Stacey. According to our by-laws, the board will meet next week and vote on the search committee slate. We will then make that public. You will hear more about the process in the coming weeks, but we will ensure plenty of opportunity for the community’s voice to be heard.
The final decision and responsibility to appoint the next Head of School rests solely with the Board of Trustees. Our goal is to interview the semi-finalists over two days in July and host finalists on site in September/October with an eye towards reaching our final decision in mid/late October 2022. We are committed to an inclusive process with input and feedback from all the community’s constituencies.
On a personal note, it has been an enormous privilege to work with Bart, and I am grateful to call him both a friend and colleague. He has shepherded St. Luke’s through a period of massive uncertainty and change. Our community has emerged on the other side with a renewed sense of purpose and strength.
We will find many opportunities in the coming months to celebrate and honor Bart’s legacy. I hope you will join the Board of Trustees in expressing our gratitude for Bart’s extraordinary leadership.
With humility for the task ahead and gratitude for our current leader,
Chair, St. Luke’s School Board of Trustees