Rebecca Smith will serve as the director of Thaden School's upper school division, effective July 1, 2018. Becky will lead the development of Thaden’s academic programs for students in grades 9 through 12 and will oversee the work of the faculty in that division. In addition to her administrative responsibilities, she will remain active in the classroom as a teacher of science and mathematics. José Leonor, who is currently serving as our director of academics for grades 7 and 9, will take the helm of our middle school division (grades 6 through 8).
A native of Philadelphia, Becky comes to Thaden School with nearly 20 years of experience in independent school education. Most recently, she has been serving as STEM coordinator (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and science department chair at Harpeth Hall, an outstanding independent school in Nashville. In that role, she helped Harpeth Hall earn national recognition for its integrated STEM program. She has also been a leader in addressing the gender gap in STEM professions, both as the director of a summer engineering institute for high school girls in Nashville and as a member of the consortium board for the Center for STEM Education for Girls. An award-winning teacher, Becky started her career at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School in Virginia, where she also created and directed a summer program for students new to independent school education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brown University and a master’s degree in education and adolescent development from the University of Maryland.
In an exceptionally strong pool of candidates from leading independent schools across the United States and the world, Becky quickly emerged as our top candidate for this position. From the beginning, it was clear that her values and educational philosophy are deeply aligned with our mission and goals. Her background in STEM education will also provide an important complement to the academic expertise that currently resides within our leadership team and will inform our work as we continue to develop an integrative curriculum with well-articulated pathways across all disciplines and grade levels. Becky also brings to Thaden a strong commitment to environmental responsibility that will advance our efforts in this area. Of course, what I most admire in Becky is what I most admire in all of our educators: genuine passion for the art and science of teaching.
Becky will be moving to Bentonville with her husband and two daughters. Please join me in welcoming the Smith family to the Thaden community.