In a school where children and learning always come first, Westtown leaders are hands-on mentors. They bring a wealth of experience and myriad skills to their work at the school, united in the passionate belief that Westtown can transform the lives of young people.
Head of School John Baird started his career as a teacher of Biology, Environmental Studies and Religion, a dorm parent, a varsity coach, and chair of Religion and Human Values. He became Principal of Carolina Friends School in 1989, and came to Westtown as Head of School in 2002. He has been a Klingenstein Visiting Fellow at Teachers College at Columbia University, has served as a mentor in the Friends Council on Education Institute for Engaging Leadership and the University of Pennsylvania MA Program in Educational Leadership, and currently is on the Board of the Friends Council on Education.
Lower School Principal Kristin Trueblood began her career in education as a Lower School teacher. In her over 25 years of classroom teaching, she led Pre-K to 12th grade curricular review work, initiated programs for local nursery school teachers, created strong alliances with parents, pushed to add Mandarin in the lower school, and empowered children to restore a marsh and woodlands. A fascination with how children think motivated her to develop a physics lab for young girls. With a Masters in Independent School Leadership from University of Pennsylvania, she moved into Admissions and then to divisional leadership. Whether teaching or leading, she is guided by the question “What if...?”
Middle School Principal Nancy van Arkel has served as Middle School Principal since 2005. During her tenure, Middle School innovations have included initiating a 1:1 iPad program, expanding language choices to include Mandarin beginning in 7th grade, adopting new curricula in math and science, and developing an integrated social curriculum that includes student leadership, Olweus bullying prevention, service learning, a robust advisory program, and a vibrant approach to spiritual development through Meeting for Worship and Quakerism classes.
Upper School Principal Chris Benbow ’90 rejoined the Westtown community in 2014 after six years as Assistant Head of School/Head of Upper School at The Williams School (CT). Chris began his career in education as an English teacher in the School District of Philadelphia and later spent ten years at Westtown serving in a variety of roles including English teacher, dorm parent, baseball coach, English Department Chair, and Dean of Students.