Prep Names New Head of Lower School
Author: David Tobias | Photographer: Photography by Anne
All great teachers are prepared when an opportunity comes their way. For Jane Inglis, preparation amounted to accumulated knowledge and experience gained from 27 years of teaching first and second grade at Hilton Head Preparatory School, three years as teacher and administrator at Hilton Head Montessori School, and being in the right place at the right time. Result? Meet Jane Inglis, the new Head of Hilton Head Prep’s Lower School, starting July 1, 2012.
A two-month search to replace current Lower School Head Nancy Foy, who will move on after this year to take the reins of the new Community School for students with dyslexia in Richmond, Virginia, found Inglis right in Prep’s backyard—literally. That’s because Inglis, presently one of two first grade teachers at Prep, has a love of science and spends time connecting her students to the environmental beauty and wonders of Hilton Head Island. She is a graduate of Miami University where she minored in environmental education; she holds a master’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in Montessori elementary education, both from Xavier University.
Inglis is involved in the Nancy Bunting Enrichment Experience, an experiential learning program named for a Prep alumnus who passed away several years ago and who had a passion for botany. Inglis acknowledges that this tie to nature and the outdoors is part of what she loves about her job and about Hilton Head Island.
“It’s perfect, with a forest preserve on one side of campus and an ocean on the other,” Inglis said. “It’s really very specific to the students in our school, and it’s a nice value-added.”
The environmental piece was an important part of what made Inglis the perfect choice to take over as Lower School Head, but it was by no means the only part. In fact, Inglis’s résumé reads like a sample from one of those Internet companies trying to sell you the perfect résumé. It’s loaded with remarkable achievement.
Inglis developed a school-wide faculty evaluation program from 2009-2011, then was selected to be an evaluator when it was launched as a pilot program in school year 2010-2011. She is a Prep “master teacher,” chair of the Teacher Mentor Program and a member of both the curriculum advancement team and a group leader for the school’s professional learning team. She was also named Hilton Head Island’s Rotary Teacher of the Year for 2012. Clearly, she’s a standout, and she works well with others.
According to Foy, the beauty of choosing Inglis is that the school capitalizes on her rich history as an educator and also gets an involved member of the community, a teacher who has taught literally hundreds of Prep students through the years, and a Head of the Lower School who knows nearly every single student from junior kindergarten through fifth grade (the highest grade level in the Lower School) because she’s had most of them in class.
At the end of this year she’ll be leaving a class of about 15 students but inheriting a school of about 130.
“I’m excited. I know the students, the families and the faculty,” Inglis said. “That’s a huge advantage right from the start.”
And they know her. Margo Brown, Prep’s director of finance and development says that the transition is all positive. “She’s already earned the respect of her fellow teachers and administrators,” Brown said. “She’s been in the trenches as a teacher and that gives her enormous credibility. The faculty has confidence in her leadership.”
She will continue to work as a first grade teacher, while working side by side with Foy though the remainder of the year and, since the two have similar education philosophies, the transition should be seamless. They both agree that programs in place already will stay in place during transition and beyond, although some may be enhanced.
“Our philosophies are very much based on respect,” Inglis said. “I believe that when we respect students, we’ll get respect in return. Respect yourself, respect others and respect your community.”
The Lower School’s focus on values and character building will continue. The school identifies a value each month and honors individual students who exemplify those values.
Which folds in nicely with a larger initiative both Foy and Inglis call a “growth mindset” for administrators and faculty, as well as students. They’ve identified “six Cs” that students need to flourish: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, character and cosmopolitanism, which they define as “a big word for being empathetic to the way other people think.”
Inglis has seen the results of all these initiatives up close over the years. Her son Allick, who graduated from Prep in 2004, and her daughter Elizabeth, who graduated in 2005, are what Prep calls “lifers,” having gone through the entire 1-12 grade curriculum, giving Inglis a unique perspective on all three divisions.
She has seen the positive outcomes of programs such as “Pooh-Pals,” which matches up Upper School children with Lower Schoolers to build confidence and community among students, and “Mini-Phins” (the school mascot is a dolphin), which allows Lower Schoolers to become cheerleaders right alongside the big kids.
Trust is a key component in those programs and in the larger school arena, according to Inglis.
“I think if students trust you and each other, if they’re in a safe place–not just physically safe, but emotionally safe—then I feel like they’re comfortable to learn, to try new things and experiment to reach beyond what they would normally do, because they feel like you’re going to support them,” she said. “If you already have that support foundation, I just feel that they zoom academically, because they know you really care about them. That kind of environment allows you to set high expectations that they’ll strive to reach, but you have to have support along the way.”
It’s all about what Prep calls “positive learning,” an atmosphere where it’s cool to be smart, according to Brown.
Inglis has always fit in neatly in that environment, according to her peers, and they say she will fit in neatly as Head of the Lower School.