Teacher to return to lead Oldfields

Smith brought back as the state's oldest girls boarding school faces money troubles

April 19, 2008|By a Sun reporter

Financially troubled Oldfields School in Glencoe has named as its new head an educator who served there for 18 years in the 1970s and 1980s.

Taylor Smith, the girls boarding school's new leader, was assistant head at Oldfields before he left in 1988 to run York Country Day School in York, Pa. After 12 years in York, he joined Episcopal High School in Jacksonville, Fla., where he is the associate head and director of college counseling.

He takes over as Oldfields is working to shore up its finances. If the school is unable to raise at least an additional $1 million annually, it could be forced to close within two years, school trustees said in letters sent in November to graduates and families. In addition, the school needs to more than triple its endowment to $50 million to ensure its survival, officials said.

The previous head of school, George Swope Jr., resigned in February. Anne Weeks, dean of academic life, has been serving as interim head.

Smith is to begin work July 1 as the eighth head in the school's 141-year history. Oldfields is Maryland's oldest girls boarding school.

Dede Alexandre LeComte, board of trustees chair, and Scott Menzies, the chair-elect, said yesterday, "We are thrilled to welcome Taylor Smith back to the Oldfields campus and feel extremely fortunate to have an educational leader of his caliber guiding Oldfields' path to the future and continuing to educate young women for each girl's success. Taylor embodies the school's motto of `Courage, Humility, and Largeness of Heart.' "

Menzies was elected yesterday to succeed LeComte as head of the board of trustees, effective July 1.

In a letter sent Thursday to the Oldfields community announcing Smith's appointment, school officials wrote that they did not conduct a planned extensive search for Swope's replacement because the possibility of hiring Smith "outweighed the benefits of a formal, year long search process."

While at Oldfields, Smith taught history and mathematics as well as serving for 12 years as assistant head.

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