For the past thirteen years, Margarita Curtis, Deerfield’s first female Head of School, has left an unforgettable legacy within the Deerfield community. Dr. Curtis’ belief in the importance of listening is seen through every interaction she has with everyone around her. She has strived to create a welcoming environment through projects such as global studies, inclusion, and sustainability.
Kevin Kelly, the Dean of Students and a long time colleague of Dr. Curtis, articulated his belief in her ability to simply listen. Students have often approached her with serious requests, including the potential removing of accountability points as well as reviving Choate Friday.
As Mr. Kelly articulated, “Dr. Curtis had this beautiful ability to be open minded and flexible. The requests were delivered respectfully and were viewed as reasonable. Dr. Curtis’ willingness to empower students by allowing discovery and learning has been truly a gift to Deerfield.”
Dr. Curtis believes in the necessity of remaining open minded because others may have passions and beliefs that differ from her own. She expressed, “I would like to think that my legacy is about ensuring that [Deerfield] sends students into the world who act with respect, honesty, and concern for others, who understand the value of diversity and inclusion–that life is enriched by coming into contact with people of different backgrounds, perspectives and belief systems–and who deploy their talents and skills for the benefit and improvement of their communities.” The initiatives she takes and the conversations she has had with each student reflect these ambitions.
Student Body President Gerry Alexandre ‘19 explained, “Although at times I felt limited, I do not think it was because of Dr. Curtis, instead, it was due to natural limits of what a student can do in the first place… I have worked with Dr. Curtis on reaching many compromises, and she, as the Head of School, has definitely compromised a lot with me. For that, I am very appreciative.”
Thomas Song ‘19 shared, “I admire Dr. Curtis not only for her eloquence and dignity but also for her ability to genuinely listen to a wide array of viewpoints in order to get as in tune with all of the Deerfield community as much as she can.” Song continued, “Dr. Curtis truly dedicates herself towards bettering all of Deerfield.”
Annabel Gerber ‘20 also shared that, apart from her involvement in the community, Dr. Curtis’s exceptional leadership even shines through in the Spanish classroom: “I had always seen her in the role as a strong leader. But, as a teacher, I saw her incredible ability to combine leadership with kindness.”
Dr. Curtis has demonstrated an aptitude to lead under difficult circumstances, guiding Deerfield through the 2008 financial crisis and increasing Deerfield’s endowment.
She contributed in raising funds to double the financial aid budget and has also worked for professional development for the faculty through summer grants and travel opportunities.
Additionally, buildings have been expanded or renovated, including the Hess Center for the Arts, the Boyden library, the new athletic center, New Dorm, the Dining Hall and the Health and Wellness Center.
Mr. Taylor explained, “Dr. Curtis has been able to preserve what is best about Deerfield’s values and traditions and, at the same time, move us forward into the 21 century.”
In reflecting upon her impending departure as the school year draws to an end, Dr. Curtis said, “I will miss the young people who are so eager to do great things with their lives. I will miss that passion, that energy.”