A New Face on Campus
New year, new campus and a new administrator. Ms. Alkire, the head of upper school, came in a time of transition and uncertainty. She has risen to the job and is frequently seen walking on campus chatting with students.
January 26, 2021
Q. How has it been coming to a new school when the first couple of months were online? Were you able to connect with students?
A: “So the day I accepted my job at Laguna was the day that Massachusetts completely shut down, and I accepted the job at 8 o’clock East Coast time; everything was shut down at 10 a.m.
And I thought to myself, what a bad omen. This is not going to go well, and I shouldn’t move my family in a pandemic. So I was really scared, to be honest, to come here.
To start in a new place where I wouldn’t be able to meet my colleagues, where a lot of people would be coming to me with questions, and I would have no way of knowing what a normal beginning at Laguna looks like.
And to be honest, I even think next year is going to be really scary — I don’t know what a normal day of school looks like. You were all remote, we had a 30-minute community meeting, and then you disappeared into your zoom rooms.
And that was how school was for the first month and a half — it was really sad, and it was incredibly lonely. I was afraid no one would come to school on Oct. 19. I thought there was no way that these kids, after starting remote, would be able to make that shift.
But the second you all started to show up, and we started scanning iPads and taking temperature checks, I just knew this was a very special place because you all came.
People stopped into my office to introduce themselves, and students were really willing to chat. I recognized that I needed to do more to be visible too.
Every week I have to go out of my way with different strategies to let people see me and get to know me because I’m asking you to come here every day.”
Q. So what has been your favorite moment so far this year?
A: “Can I give you my favorite student moment and my favorite teaching moment? OK. One of my favorite [student moments is when] I was allowed to support-teach the APUSH classes with Ms. Montague. I enjoyed that week so much because it allowed me to see students in an academic setting. It was really nice to see them where they are curious.
I was able to do that with Ms. Yoshimora, in art history, and that was fun. It’s mostly seniors, who are the coolest people on the campus — [they] have such great questions and ideas, and [they] push back.
My favorite teacher moments? A lot of your teachers stay here really late, and whenever I’m alone in the office, and I think I’m by myself, those teachers will come surprise me and just have these office chats, these beautiful conversations.
And they’re just so loving of all of you, and they have been so warm and welcoming to me.”
Q. What do you think Laguna offers its students?
A: “Elisabeth Fowler and I had a meeting when I first got here, and she said something so beautiful that I think about almost every day. She said, ‘Every Laguna student has a front-row seat.”
And I think about that in their relationships to their teachers they do, in their classrooms they do, in their opportunities.
You haven’t had a chance to address Laguna students — this can be that moment (no pressure!)”
Q. Do you have anything you want to say?
A: “What I want to say to everyone is how proud I am of this student body. I’m coming from a very big school, and I know their stories right now during COVID.
Their stories are complicated, and they are having a really hard time coming to school and staying involved and finding friendship. And I know that’s true for you [all] as well.
I know it’s true in your private lives, and publicly here, those struggles can be the same. I am just so amazed by the noise that I hear on campus, which is overall joyful and connected.”