Stranger in One’s Own Community: A Head of School Allegory | Joel Backon | 11 Min Read

The Head of School in this story is a composite character based on the author’s work with several school Heads. While the circumstances may sound familiar, the characters are not real. Our fictitious Head of School, Dan, may appear in future stories as well.

It was to be a long flight home with my wife and two children on this early August day. We had spent two weeks based in Kathmandu, and had hiked and climbed to the base camp of Mount Everest, an ambitious undertaking. Almost the entire trip I was disconnected from anything to do with the private school I led in the U.S., and that resulted in my feeling rested and relaxed until I boarded the first leg of the flight home. Then the terror of what I might face when I returned to my office in three days began to consume my imagination, and the relaxation transformed into a mountain of stress. 

I stepped into my office very early on my first day back, marking the start of my fifth year as Head of School. My goal was to catch up on email prior to the arrival of my senior staff and my assistant, who…

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Joel Backon

Joel Backon has been the Editor of Intrepid Ed News since its inception in January 2021, responsible for all educator content on the website. He joined the OESIS Network, owner of Intrepid, in 2019 as Vice President. Joel spent much of his career at Choate Rosemary Hall (CT) where for 27 years he held founding roles in Information and Academic Technology, as well as being a classroom teacher, curriculum designer, coach, dorm head, and student adviser. Prior to Choate, Joel spent 15 years in the printing and publishing industry educating printers on how to maximize their strengths and minimize weaknesses. He has crusaded to achieve consensus on the question of why we educate kids in an effort to meet the learning needs of every student.