Originally emailed April 13, 2018

Dear Friends in the PMFS Community,

As we shared with you last week, we have been interviewing candidates for the role of Interim Head of School for 2018/19. I am very pleased to announce the hiring of David Kern.

David served as the Lower School Director at Penn Charter School for seven years, and prior to that as the founding principal of the Middle School at Germantown Friends School for thirteen years. In both roles he demonstrated and refined his skills as a collaborative team builder who works skillfully and sensitively with students, faculty, parents, administration, and School Committee. David comes to PMFS with enthusiastic recommendations as a sincere and effective leader.

David has built a career and a reputation as an inspired and inspiring educational leader. In addition to his leadership roles in Philadelphia-area Friends schools, David has had a wonderfully diverse background as a community organizer, counselor for youth and families, and wilderness program coordinator, among other roles. During the year since his retirement from Penn Charter, David and his wife, Karen, have been volunteering at a school in Uganda they helped to start in 2003. With degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, David brings a blend of academic excellence and outside-the-box lifetime learning that make him an extraordinarily good fit for Plymouth.

At his interview with the Search Committee and School Committee, David impressed us with his thoughtfulness, candor, and grounded wisdom. Faculty, parents, alumni and administration members also cited his attentive listening as an attribute that will serve him well as he works to support our community in preparing for the transition to our next Head of School.

I invite you to read David’s letter, below. He plans to join us at the Strawberry Festival, and to begin full-time at Plymouth later in the summertime. If you have any questions about our transition plan, please feel free to be in touch with me, or with any of the other members of the Executive Committee.

Please join us in welcoming David to the Plymouth family.

Faithfully yours,

Tom Hoopes
Clerk of School Committee

Fran Johnston
Assistant Clerk

John Gilliland
Assistant Clerk

Jeff Markovitz

Rob Cope
Recording Clerk

Dear Plymouth Meeting Friends School Community,

Let me say right away: I am thrilled to be writing to you to introduce myself as the Plymouth Meeting Friends School Interim Head of School for the 2018-2019 school year. My wife, Karen, and I are feeling blessed to have this opportunity to join with you in continuing the wonderful Quaker educational tradition of PMFS. Karen and I are currently volunteering at the Bududa Learning Center in eastern Uganda. Along with other volunteers, we helped start the Center in 2003 and we have returned this year to lend our help in sustaining this remarkable program. We hope we can share more details about our work once we return to PMFS. We will finish up our work in Bududa in August and I will return then to begin full time at PMFS. I also plan to return for two weeks at the beginning of June in time for the Strawberry Festival and graduation for the sixth grade. I trust I will be able to see many of you then—-and I can’t wait!

Since Karen and I are back in the States this month for a pre-planned visit with family and friends, I was fortunate to be able to visit PMFS last week and meet directly with some members of the PMFS community. It was wonderful to see the school again and especially to see the recent changes to the campus. As the former Head of the Middle School at Germantown Friends School, I welcomed a number of PMFS students into GFS. I know first hand the depth and breadth of a PMFS education and I count my lucky stars that I can now be a part of this amazing school. I have been fortunate to be involved in Quaker education for the past 25 years. Most recently, I have been the Lower School Director at the William Penn Charter School. The joy of teaching younger students is infectious and I am also so pleased to return to work with PMFS’s lower school aged children.

My admiration and belief in Quaker education holds a central place in my life. I enjoy speaking and writing about it and if I don’t watch out I can easily go on about it for some time! Two aspects of Friends education that stand out for me are the manner in which it accentuates and matures the strengths of each student and faculty, while at the same time it significantly expands the horizons of everyone involved. One not only becomes a more self-assured person, but also each of us becomes a bigger person than we might ever have imagined. It is this secure and changed person that then moves out into the world to do good works in the manner of Friends. I am looking forward to our coming year together centered on these notions.

I also look forward to transitioning with Sarah and then working together with all the PMFS faculty, staff, students, and families. I know it will be a wonderful year ahead. Of course, in the meantime, there is this terrific year to complete and I hope everyone has a great finish. Until I see you in June, Karen and I will be immersed in our work in Bududa. We are keeping a blog: https://voyagerafrica3.blogspot.com and please join us through the blog when you can. I can be reached by email at davidkern9@gmail.com , but communication in Bududa can be spotty and I will make every effort to get back to you as soon as possible. 

Once again, here’s to a terrific finish to this school year and know, while I have much to do in Bududa, I am already looking with excitement to the 2018-2019 school year.

All the best,

David Kern