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To my new Gordon family...

from Dr. Noni Thomas López

 
above: Noni Thomas López, Gordon's next Head of School
 
To My New Gordon Family:

I am thrilled to be joining Gordon in July as the new Head of School! It’s incredible to me to find myself writing this letter to you today, given where this journey started. If you were able to meet with me during my visit in September, you know I am a fan of popular culture, and I can’t help but see the story of this odyssey through some of my favorite movie quotes. (If you can guess them all without Google, I will treat you to some donuts from Knead next fall!)

“I wish I knew how to quit you.”
When I was first approached about the opportunity at Gordon, I declined. Many of you know why. I love New York and have had deep ties to this city from the day of my birth to the moment I met my Bronx-born, Bronx-raised husband in 2010. New England was out and not just because of the Red Sox. My husband Rodney has two beautiful boys, and we made a conscious decision to explore job opportunities no farther than a two-hour radius from the tri-state area. But the possibility of Gordon stayed with me. It was a school that loomed large in my imagination from my early days as an educator for being on the cutting edge of progressive pedagogy. It was a school known for unapologetically walking the talk of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It was a school doing “the work.” I couldn’t get Gordon out of my head, so I called back the search consultant and asked her to tell me more.

“You had me at hello.”
My meeting with the Search Committee in June took place in an abandoned office building. (Okay, it was empty because it was Saturday.) I arrived early, as any good candidate should, and as I waited, was greeted by each committee member as they came in. Everyone was warm and friendly, as one would expect, but I was more interested in how they greeted each other. It seemed like a family, and the interview bore that initial impression out in some beautiful ways. Over the course of the conversation, I felt a clearing open up where I could comfortably share my authentic self. For a woman and person of color who has been navigating the teaching and administrative terrain of independent schools for more than twenty years, this kind of space was a rare and special gift, and I was honored to be invited to return in September as a finalist.

“I think you got hit by the thunderbolt.”
My final visit to Gordon was everything I hoped for and more. Gordon was founded to instill the “true spirit of joyous work into each day of school,” and as I visited classrooms and met with students, parents, faculty, and staff, I saw this guiding principle on full display. The commitment to teamwork, mutual respect, empathy, and relationship was evident in every conversation and every interaction. The impact on me was so immediate that I texted my husband during my lunch break on my first day with four simple words: “I love this school.” 

It seems you saw a match as well! I couldn’t be more honored to be linking arms with all of you to guide Gordon through this transition and into an exciting future. Gordon is needed in our world, now more than ever, and I am grateful for the opportunity to join you in the important work of building a better world for our children and for our larger human family.

My family is looking forward to coming to Providence in July! Rodney and I cannot wait to introduce our sons Novian, Rodney, Jr., and Roman, and our fur babies Billie Jean and Olive to our Gordon family. I’m honored to have been selected as your next Head of School. We will see you soon!

Take care,

Noni Thomas López
 

About Noni Thomas López

Dr. Thomas López brings more than two decades of educational leadership to the Gordon School. She is currently the interim Principal of the Lower School at Ethical Culture Fieldston School (ECFS) in Bronx, New York, and holds a second role at ECFS as Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning. There, she oversees curriculum and instruction for a school of 1,750 students, PreK-12, and 325 faculty and staff, and collaborates with trustees, administrators, division heads, department chairs and faculty on strategic academic initiatives and professional development.

Prior to her role at Fieldston, Dr. Thomas López was Head of Middle School at the Nightingale-Bamford School, Middle School Director at the Calhoun School, and a middle school humanities teacher at Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School (LREI), all in New York City. 

Dr. Thomas López is a former trustee of the Caedmon School and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Bronx Charter School for the Arts. She has been a consultant to several New York City schools, a member of the diversity committee of the New York State Association of Independent Schools, and a presenter at multiple conferences, including the National Association of Independent School’s People of Color Conference. In 2013, she founded the Interschool Leadership Institute for Educators of Color. Her career unequivocally reflects her statement that “From my time as a student of color in a predominately white independent school through my twenty-two years working as a teacher, administrator, and consultant, I have been guided by a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and social justice.” 

In addition to her work in New York, her classroom career included time at Greensboro Day School and Ravenscroft School in North Carolina. Her extensive experience in educational leadership includes work with Breakthrough Collaborative in Raleigh, North Carolina, the GO Project, and the Collegiate School Teaching Institute in New York City. At LREI, in addition to her role on the faculty, she was Middle School Dean of Students, English Department Chair, and Academic Cabinet Chair. 

Dr. Thomas López holds a BA in English from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, an MA in Education Leadership with a concentration in Private School Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she was awarded a Joseph Klingenstein Fellowship, and an Ed.D in Educational and Organizational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.  

Dr. Thomas López is married to Rodney López with whom she shares a love of Latin and ballroom dancing. Her interests also include reading, meditation, traveling, and coaching and mentoring. 
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