Harford Friends appoints leader

Parkton man chosen to head first Quaker school in the county

April 04, 2004|By Amanda Ponko | Amanda Ponko,SUN STAFF

The Harford Friends School board of trustees has appointed Jonathan Huxtable of Parkton as head of the school, which is scheduled to open in September 2005.

Harford Friends School, like the Friends schools of Baltimore; Wilmington, Del.; and Westtown, Pa., will be a nonprofit, private institution dedicated to providing children with an education based on traditional Quaker values, including tolerance, equality, fairness and simplicity.

"The Quaker belief is that every child has a gift to offer," Huxtable said. "Our job is to draw that out. ... Every community deserves access to Quaker education. This will be the only [Quaker school] in the county."

Harford Friends plans to provide education for kindergartners through 12th-graders, but will begin with approximately 30 sixth-grade pupils and will expand one grade per year.

Huxtable grew up in a Quaker home in Boston and attended Haverford College near Philadelphia, where he studied psychology. After graduation, Huxtable accepted an internship at the Wilmington Friends School, which led to a full-time teaching position. After teaching middle school English and social studies for five years, he attended Harvard University, where he received his master's degree in education.

Upon his return to Wilmington Friends School, Huxtable was named middle school dean of pupils, making him the primary disciplinarian and a prime figure in developing pupil government and advisory programs for the school.

"For me, middle-school age is the most fascinating and energetic time," Huxtable said. "[Pupils] are willing to try different things. They have endless energy."

He remained dean of pupils in Wilmington until last fall when he and his wife, Christine, a fellow teacher at the school, decided to move to Parkton. The couple has two sons. He worked at Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center, but soon realized his passion was teaching.

In response to a newspaper announcement about the opening of a Friends School in Harford County, he met with the Harford Friends School board of trustees in November and was later offered the position of head of the school, which, he said, "honored and humbled me."

Mary Ellen Saterlie, chairwoman of the Harford Friends School board of trustees, said she and the board were impressed with Huxtable's experience and enthusiasm.

"He's very inventive and has a great understanding of middle school students," she said. "The more we talked, the more we saw the leadership skills we were looking for. ... No one else had the credentials or presence Jonathan had. ... Not only is he bright and creative, but he's got his feet on the ground. We're confident in him."

Huxtable, 34, said he plans to teach for the first couple of years, until the school is fully under way. He plans to evolve with the institution, focusing his efforts where necessary. He said he is thrilled to be teaching again, particularly middle school pupils.

"Given the proper guidance, there are all sorts of opportunities for [adolescents] to make a difference. ... I'm really excited to be part of this," he said.

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