At Westtown, we are uncommonly invested in helping our students discover their gifts, talents, passions, and sense of purpose.
We believe deeply that within each of us there is a special Light, a unique wisdom, and an evolving sense of purpose. Together, we work to help students discover these in a supportive and collaborative environment.
Head of School Chris Benbow ’90 rejoined the Westtown community in 2014 as Upper School Principal. During his tenure as Upper School Principal, Chris deftly and subtly led a number of initiatives to improve program and student experience. Chris’s other roles at Westtown include Dean of Students (2004-08), Upper School English Department Chair (2002-04), Associate Head of School (2019-21) and Interim Head of School (2021). He also taught English in our Upper School from 1998 until his 2008 appointment as Assistant Head of School/Head of Upper School at The Williams School in Connecticut, where he served until he re-joined Westtown as Principal. In 2019, Chris became Associate Head of School, in this role he directly supported the senior administration, their departments, and their priorities with a combination of presence, engaged oversight, and the grace and space necessary to perform their work well and grow as professionals.
Throughout his career, much of his professional development has been centered on leadership, and he participated in both the NAIS Fellowship for Aspiring School Heads and Friends Council on Education’s Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools. Additionally, Chris’s personal and professional commitment to creating a community of belonging is also evident in his professional development training which since 2015 has largely centered around diversity and equity, social justice, developing cultural competency, and antiracism workshops.
When the departure of the former Head of School was announced, Chris was invited by the Board of Trustees to serve as Interim Head of School for the first half of the 2021-22 academic year. On January 1, 2022, following an international search process, Chris was officially appointed Head of School. He brings wide-ranging experience in education which serves him well as Head: having obtained his M.Ed. from Temple and B.A. from Skidmore, he taught 3rd through 8th grade at Cathedral Christian Academy, served as Director of Education at InnerCity Baseball Academy, and taught English in the School District of Philadelphia.
Lower School Principal Karyn Payton came to Westtown in 2016 initially teaching first grade, in which capacity she was elevated to Master Teacher, broadening the social studies curriculum to include more diverse voices. Most recently she has served as the Lower School Learning Specialist, notably managing the design and implementation of the new Lower School learning support system. Karyn earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Temple University and a master’s degree in education and human development from The George Washington University, both with highest honors, and holds a certification in early childhood education from Widener University. Karyn has completed the Friends Council on Education’s Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools. Her time before and outside Westtown has included teaching language arts at Delaware Valley Friends School; training teacher interns in the Delaware Valley Friends School Adolescent Literacy Program; teaching first and second grade at the The School in Rose Valley during which she collaborated to create curricula; and, teaching at Friends Select School - of which she is a graduate. A lifelong Quaker and member of Chester Monthly Meeting, Karyn has also coordinated educational programs at Pendle Hill. In her personal statement of philosophy, Karyn speaks of Quaker practices as key influences and inspirations, including holding issues or ideas in the Light, discerning in collaboration with others and in her own quiet time, and leading with intention. She identifies listening and seeking as particularly important practices, calling them “cornerstones of successful teaching and leadership.”
Middle School Principal Will Addis has held many roles at Westtown, among them Chair of the Arts Department and was Clerk of the Upper School Faculty. Dedicated to the central tenets of Quaker education, Will is active with Friends Council on Education, as co-clerk of FCE’s Performing Arts Program Steering Committee and a participant in the 2019-2021 cohort of the Institute for Engaging Leaders in Friends Schools. Before coming to Westtown, Will taught at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and Bronx Community College of CUNY. At Worcester Academy, Will was Director of Theater Arts, taught and directed, served as a dorm head, academic advisor, and advisor to the Gay-Straight Alliance; and at Bakerloo Theater Project, he was Producing Artistic Director. Since 2015, Will has also directed theater productions and taught a variety of theater classes to middle and high school-aged students at McCarter Theater Center. Will received a B.A. from Drew University and went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from The City University of New York, Brooklyn College. Will’s track record in visionary change management is outstanding, and he brings a collegial, supportive style in implementing bold strategic initiatives to this new role at Westtown.
Prior to coming to Westtown, Upper School Principal Veda Robinson she served as Director of College Counseling at Edmund Burke School in Washington, DC., where she also serves on the school’s Strategic Plan Equity and Inclusion Task Force, the AIMS accreditation team, Mastery Transcript, and Academic Affairs committees. She brings deep experience and fondness for residential life through her work at Phillips Exeter Academy as Dean of Multicultural Affairs and Phillips Academy (Andover) as Associate Director of College Counseling. She holds a bachelor’s degree in religion from Colby College and a M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania. Veda brings not only years of purposeful, effective leadership in independent schools, but also resonance with Quakerism and a spirit-led passion for equity, social justice, and transformative education.