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February 9th, 2019

A Special Announcement from Chairman of the Board of Trustees John P. Carey III ’74

February 9, 2019

Dear South Kent Community,

It is with great pleasure that I share with you the exciting news that Lawrence A. Smith ’73 has been elected South Kent’s ninth Head of School. Lawrence accepted the permanent position following a unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees during its 2019 winter meeting. The election of Lawrence formally completes a transition process begun last August.

Lawrence has a long and distinguished career in secondary education as a teacher, coach, mentor and academic administrator. Upon graduating from Princeton University, where he captained the heavyweight crew for two years, Lawrence taught and coached at South Kent for nine years, followed by two years at the University of New Hampshire during which time he earned his Master’s degree in History and coached collegiate crew.

He then spent 22 years at Phillips Exeter Academy teaching history, coaching hockey and varsity crew, overseeing the largest boys dormitory and serving as History Department Chair and as Associate Dean of Faculty. While at Exeter, Lawrence co-founded the Exeter Humanities Institute which has become a nationally recognized conference for learner-centered teaching.

Lawrence was recruited to St. Paul’s School in 2011, where he again taught history and humanities, coached crew and served as Dean of Teaching and Learning. While at St. Paul’s he co-founded the Independent School Teaching Residency (ISTR) program in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, a groundbreaking approach to training teachers in independent schools.  For seven years Lawrence co-directed the program with his wife, Relinde de Greef.

Relinde, who also joined the St. Paul’s faculty in 2011, has remained for the current year at St. Paul’s, where she teaches humanities and directs the Penn ISTR. Relinde earned her PhD from the London School of Economics, and has taught extensively internationally and in the U.S. from middle school to graduate school programs. She also has many years of experience in teacher training and mentoring. Relinde will be on sabbatical from St. Paul’s for the 2019-2020 year, moving to South Kent in early July.

While at St. Paul’s, Lawrence served with distinction as a member of the South Kent Board of Trustees, chairing the Education and Student Life Committee and Governance Committees and serving on the Executive Committee. He is well known and well respected throughout the South Kent community and in secondary education nationally.

The Board of Trustees’ unanimous election of Lawrence follows an extensive due diligence process that included 40 interviews with various South Kent constituents and professionals in the independent school sector.  The Head of School Transition Committee included trustees Alex Thomson ’78, Anne Funnell ’81 and Tim Mitchell ’76, with support from the School’s academic leadership consultant, John Farber. The process included evaluation of the Head of School talent and compensation market as well as one-on-one discussions with South Kent faculty and staff about their understanding of the leadership needs of the School and assessment of the job Lawrence has done in five months as Interim. For questions regarding the process, please feel free to contact Alex Thomson ’78 at alexander_thomson@ymail.com.

On the personal front, Lawrence is the son of Maggie and Arthur Smith, who served with distinction on the SKS faculty for more than 25 years. Lawrence has three adult children:  Whitney Ellen Duquette, a teacher at Charlotte Latin School in Charlotte, NC, wife of Dave Duquette and mother of one-year-old Sadie Jane; Legare Arthur Smith, who works for the Nielsen-Kellerman Company in Philadelphia and is married to Kelsie Grant; and Trenholm Steuert, a mother raising her son Schuyler in Dallas, married to Joseph Steuert.

Lawrence and Relinde expect to reside in Wister House once renovations have been completed, hopefully by January 2020. Please join me in a warm and blessed South Kent welcome to Lawrence and Relinde!


John P. Carey '74
Board of Trustees
South Kent School


Posted on 2/16/2019 at 3:52pm by Andrew Washburn
Well rowed. Congratulations SKS and Lawrence. All the best
Posted on 2/13/2019 at 8:17pm by John Pendergast
Well earned!! Congratulations
Posted on 2/9/2019 at 5:31pm by John BN Dunn "67
Dear South Kent School, BRAVO, I am so ecstatic for Pigtail that the Board of Trustees recognized and saw the value in Lawrence Smith's qualifications in overseeing and guiding the school’s success in the years ahead. In his recent communiques, I have been so pleased that he resonates a sensitivity to the importance of perpetuating the three defining South Kent principles of Simplicity of Life, Self-Reliance, and Directness of Purpose. And, in a recent video clip, he also so aptly captured the value the school provides for its students in today’s environment by stating the school is “a safe place built on very strong relationships where boys can be boys and they can take risks and they can learn from their mistakes and be supported the whole time by a caring highly quality faculty and community.” With this quality of mindset, I am comforted that the school has been turned over to an extremely competent leader who will guide the school to higher standards of excellence and purpose.

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