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Coaching the Coaches

As interim associate head of school, Jen Craig views her role as a "coach of the coaches," measuring student success indirectly, through the eyes and hearts of her colleagues.

"In an administrative team, our job is to maintain the long-term growth and success of everyone in the school, adults and students, and that's a very different role from the student-oriented, individual interest in growth a teacher or a coach might have," says Craig, who oversees the Office of Student Life and the Rutherford Health and Wellness Center, serves as a key liaison between the faculty and senior leadership, and manages some of the day-to-day internal school operations.

A trip to the associate head of school's office might not top the list of favorites for students who associate the position with disciplinary actions, but Craig says her role encompasses much more than discipline. She views each interaction with students as an opportunity to further their long-term growth, and she has high expectations for every student's internalized and personalized success.

Craig aims to create an atmosphere with established boundaries where students long to congregate because they are loved and accepted for who they are.

"I hope our offices are places where students ask to hang out, where love and fun are found, where the guardrails are clearly laid out to help form a wide path," says Craig, who has three decades of experience as a teacher and administrator. "My job is to enable teachers to do the best job they can to build an environment that is student-centric, and to advocate and care deeply for the faculty, so they can best build that environment for student learning."

Empowering students to discover and develop their own narrative as they experience growth is an important part of the education process.

"I hope we always get better at having students find and tell their own personal story through the learning of all types that happens at Mercersburg," Craig says. "Students–in fact, all of us–are people, not fully formed, on a journey. This is a thing to be honored and nurtured, not to be rushed."

This patient approach for learning, Craig says, is expressed in "Wait for It" from Hamilton: "Wait for it. I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable. I am an original. I'm not falling behind or running late. I'm not standing still. I am lying in wait."

Her wish for students is to find their niche, even when the journey is unconventional.

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