Interim head of school joins Long Trail

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MANCHESTER — The Long Trail School has welcomed an interim head of school, Seth Linfield, for the 2017-18 academic year.

This announcement comes approximately two months after former head of school Steven Dear announced his forthcoming resignation due to health concerns. Though Dear had agreed to remain Head of School until an interim was found, by Dec. 31, Linfield came along just in time for the upcoming school year, which began this week.

"There is nothing interim about this school year for our students," said Linfield. "This school's founding vision - and its growth from a one-room schoolhouse four decades ago to the striking campus of today - challenges us to sustain past successes while extending fresh strengths in response to emerging challenges and opportunities."

Dear will still be providing guidance for Linfield, who initially connected with the Long Trail School through the educational search and consulting firm Educators' Collaborative.

"He's still an active presence in the school, and we communicate daily," said Linfield. "He's been a fantastic guide for what the school does and why. He's continuing to be actively involved in school life as a whole, and directly in the transition with me."

Linfield, who moved from Ohio for the position, brings with him 14 years of cumulative experience as a head of school at select institutions across the country. Additionally, he boasts an early career as an attorney and degrees from New York University and Stanford Law School.

"I hope to continue what the school has been doing in the way that the school has been doing it, with natural advancement and progressions," said Linfield. "To take the next step with the learning environment, there's a robust public service community that our students engage in, and I hope to engage in that as well."

In this interim role, Linfield looks forward to learning about the school first hand during what he calls a "highly thoughtful transition."

"What this does is enable me to learn about the school's culture, and then steward the school's mission," said Linfield. "I think my experiences at other schools will help me to focus even more quickly on Long Trail's mission and core values and culture, and then help me advance them for the benefit of the entire school community."

Though the Long Trail School is embarking upon its 42nd year of operation, the search for a head of school has only occurred three times in its history. As Linfield settles into his interim position, he hasn't discounted the possibility of future involvement with Long Trail.

"I'll leave that up to the search committee and the board to determine the parameters for the permanent search," said Linfield. "I'm looking forward to getting to know the students, and making this year compelling and meaningful for each of them."

One of the most "compelling" hallmarks of Long Trail's educational curriculum is its International Baccalaureate program, the first to be offered in the state.

"We are Vermont's first International Baccalaureate school, and each year there's more in depth development of what that means for all of our students," said Linfield. "We're going to continue to expand the role of the International Baccalaureate program, and we're looking at how to deepen that program for not only the 11th and 12th grades, but from the 6th grade on upward in both formal and informal ways."

The start of the school year marks a new beginning for Linfield's family as well, with the youngest of his seven children attending Long Trail as a sophomore.

"I consider all the young men and women in the school to be my own children, and I actually separate out the two roles for practical purposes," said Linfield, mentioning that he defers most of his parental duties, when it comes to the school, to his wife Deana. "I want my relationship with the faculty, and how I relate to each students, not to be influenced in any way by my role as a parent."

As the administrator continues to develop his role with the Long Trail School, Linfield also hopes to connect with the larger community.

"I'm looking forward to continuing the Long Trail Schools role as a driver for this community and for the larger region as well," said Linfield. "I look at myself as a steward of that role."

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.

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