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Meet Head of School Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau

Our new Head of School Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau shares why she is thrilled to be a part of our remarkable independent school community.

  • Community
  • Leadership
A Q & A with the newest member of UPrep’s independent school community

By Nancy Schatz Alton, Writer/Editor

On July 1, UPrep welcomed Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau as our fifth head of school. With more than twenty-five years of experience in independent schools, Ronnie is known for her student-centered focus and her commitment to serving a diverse community. While she most recently served as the head of school at The Evergreen School in Seattle, Ronnie has also served in leadership and teaching positions at several private schools, including Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles and The Park School in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Since Ronnie is unable to greet us all in person due to the current pandemic, she shared more about herself below, including why she is thrilled to be a part of our remarkable independent school community.

Why did you become an educator?

I didn’t always want to be a teacher, but teaching and the value of a good education is in my blood. I spent my early years in England, a middle child being raised by parents who immigrated to England to further their education. My father, a former math teacher, British army captain, and business owner originally from Barbados, joined the army to earn his college degree. My mother, a classical pianist and music teacher originally from Guyana, moved to England to study at the London College of Music. My parents eventually moved their three children back to Barbados to immerse us in a culture where people who looked like us held positions of power. They taught us that the world was ours for the taking and the path to success was through education.

Our immigration journey to America was not a smooth one. My mother chose to move us to Boston, because through research she learned that the city was home to one of the best free high schools in the country. Boston Latin High School sent graduates to excellent colleges, and that was her dream for her three children. We landed at Logan International Airport a month before the entrance test for that high school. Mom handed me and my sister three sharpened pencils each and that was how my journey began.

I thought back on all of this as I sat in a dean’s office debating my future in my senior year of college. I recalled the college courses I enjoyed the most. I reflected on the fact that it wasn’t a single course I enjoyed but the experience of volunteering in a local high school. I left the dean’s office, filled out applications for teaching internships in every Boston area independent school, and thus my path to independent school leadership was launched.

How are these turbulent times affecting your role as head of school?

Schools have had to pivot and reimagine themselves while attempting to remain inclusive and safe communities for each person who comes through their doors. Racial tension that has been simmering in this country for decades has risen to the surface with a fury unlike anything we have seen in decades. Over the last few years, I watched helplessly as children and their parents attempting to cross the border for a better life were separated from each other. This spring, I watched as protests erupted in many major cities across America and renewed calls for reform were called for in the names of the Black men and women killed by some of the very people charged to serve and protect us. I also watched a virus spread across one of the wealthiest countries in the world while a government stood by paralyzed, unable to protect the thousands who died. But I also watched as the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the rights of the LGBTQ+ population by granting them the protections afforded by the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

As an immigrant, Black woman, and mother of a son and daughter, one of whom is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, each of these events in our country’s history affected me in different ways, from profound sadness to extreme joy. Our country is truly at a crossroads. But I am also reminded of why I went into education and why I came to UPrep. I went into education to change lives. I believe in the words of Nelson Mandela who said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

How are you getting to know the UPrep community?

This has been a summer of listening to and learning from the community in small groups and virtual meetings. I also spent time listening to and learning from trustees, faculty, staff, and administrators in one-on-one sessions. I really enjoyed getting to know many of you, and I’m looking forward to learning so much more from all of you during the course of the upcoming school year. I am so grateful to be here with all of you on this journey to make our community as strong as it can be! 

What led you to UPrep?

I came to University Prep because it was a school founded by seven Seattle pioneers who left their public school teaching jobs to found an inclusive and diverse community that would guide students to reach their potential to become intellectually courageous and prepare them to be socially responsible citizens of the world. With all the global and social unrest caused by the onset and effects of COVID-19 and by current racial tensions, I am proud to be at a school preparing students to become socially responsible global citizens. What a remarkable community I am joining! My job, as head of school, will be to nourish, sustain, and grow this already strong school.

To learn more about Ronnie, check out this video, where she shares how she enjoys her down time with her family, and more!

 

 



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