Proctor Announces Alisa Barnard as New Assistant Head of School

Posted by Scott Allenby


Proctor Academy is excited to announce Alisa Barnard as its next Assistant Head of School, beginning July 1, 2023. A New Hampshire native and graduate of Colgate University and Harvard Divinity School, Alisa has spent the last nineteen years of her career at her alma mater, St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, most recently as the Director of the Advanced Studies Program.

Photo from AlisaPrior to her role as ASP Director, Alisa served as Chief Engagement Officer, Executive Director of the Alumni Association, Dean of Studies, and a Humanities Teacher and Track and Cross Country Coach. She has also served on the faculties of Westtown School and Northfield Mount Hermon School.

Alisa succeeds Karin Clough, P’18, ‘18 who will transition to another role at Proctor after serving for eight years as Assistant Head of School. As Assistant Head of School, Alisa will oversee all student facing operations of the school and provide critical leadership to the community alongside Head of School Brian Thomas. Brian remarks on Alisa’s appointment: 

 At the conclusion of her on campus interview day, I asked Alisa what were some of the first words that came to mind about the Proctor community. She said: healthy, self-reflective, striving, aspirational. Alisa captured Proctor's essence and even more, as her own character mirrors our’s as a school - capable, calm, fair, and quiet confidence. In speaking with those she has worked with in the past, we heard that which Proctor sought for this role: a leader who is calm, fair, and direct. Her knowledge of how schools work from her many roles in the classroom, as an academic administrator, and through her work in alumni relations and development gives her the strength of seeing the big picture of school life. Her demonstrated ability to be a great team member made us all know that we had found our next Assistant Head of School.

Reflecting on her appointment as Assistant Head of School, Alisa shares the following insights: 

What are you most excited about as you step into the role of Assistant Head of School at Proctor? 

What really ignited me throughout the process of finding Proctor, and Proctor finding me, was how incredibly committed everyone at the School is to the aspirational vision of meeting students where they are and serving a diverse group of learners in the best way possible. This was a consistent theme through all of my conversations with the Proctor community. Everyone I spoke with during the interview process and my campus visit clearly understood why we are here and the work that we are charged to do in support of our students. Proctor has, as an institution, such a deep commitment to intentionally supporting a diverse group of learners, and it is that intentionality that is most exciting. Proctor is really unique in this regard, and I am energized knowing I am stepping into this role alongside an incredibly thoughtful team of educators.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity this role will present you? 

I believe that Proctor's pedagogical model, which is highly relational and responsive to individual students, speaks directly to what students and families need and are looking for today. The opportunities we have as a school have these strengths at their foundation. Celebrating this model, building on it, and being sure it is infused in every aspect of the student and faculty experience is what I am most excited about. I heard a call for this work in my visit to campus and in conversations with both students and faculty, and I am eager to join the Proctor community in this work. 

What was most attractive to you about Proctor as you considered this role? 

Beyond the personal alignment I feel with Proctor’s mission, there is a spirit that is authentic and fun at Proctor. Proctor doesn’t take itself too seriously even while doing important work, and I see that as so important as we help adolescents through their high school years. There is a neighborliness at Proctor that I was drawn to, a collegiality and shared sense among the adults in the community that the work is important, and the community in which we get to do that work is just as important. 

Additionally, the school’s commitment to experiential learning, even though it is challenging in today’s climate of risk management and complex student situations, is admirable. In college, I did a SEA Semester out of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, doing research aboard a sailing vessel, and for me that remains one of my most formative educational experiences. There is just something about that type of immersive learning experience that transforms lives, and seeing Proctor do this for more than 70% of its students is truly remarkable. I also am inspired by Brian’s enthusiasm and passion for the future of the school, and his commitment to celebrating the best that Proctor is while helping it grow into an even better version of itself. I am excited to be a part of that future. 

What are your interests outside of school-life? 

My partner, Travis, and I have five children between the two of us (ages of 14-20), as well as two dogs, so I am first and foremost a parent. I am also an avid mountain biker, skier, golfer (thank you Covid-19), and a procrasti-baker who seems to always find distraction in the kitchen when life gets complicated. I love to read and write poetry. I am also very interested in meditation and mindfulness, learning how to infuse these practices in my own life, and considering how they might benefit our students. I love to travel, but my roots are in New Hampshire. 

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