Category: Head of School

Greetings from the Head of School

Over the December break, I received a signed copy of Martin Short’s Autobiography, “I must say”.  As a huge fan of the cult classic late-night TV show, SCTV, I was thrilled to be able to read some amusing anecdotes about his time on Saturday Night Live, and his work with Steve Martin in a number of movies.

What struck me, however, was a brief section that Short wrote about how he dealt with the ups and downs of being an actor.  He organized his life into Nine Categories, and kept a journal with weekly grades about how he was doing in each of the categories:  Self, Immediate Family, Original Family (parents and siblings), Friends, Money, Career, Creativity, Discipline, and Lifestyle.

Short captured what I often feel about my own life, and how I’m sure many others feel, too.   We are busy people, and it seems like we are always “spinning plates” – each one needing individual attention so that everything doesn’t come crashing down.

(Not a bad metaphor for life!) (Photo credit:
(Not a bad metaphor for life!) (Photo credit:


Short’s system is designed to allow him to pause and reflect.  It allows him to realize that even when things aren’t going that well in one area, that they are doing fine in another. Alternatively, it directs him to the area of his life that needs the most attention.

Short’s system is also relevant to the life of our school.  At The MacDuffie School, we strive for excellence in all areas – the classic “all things to all people at all times” educational experience!  Invariably, we will lag behind in one area and excel in another.  Rather than fret about this eventuality, we must focus on the process that allows us to reflect.  What are our “9 categories”, and what is the way in which we open ourselves to reflection?

Our school evaluates our “Nine Categories” based on our mission:

To foster in all students the intellectual habits of mind, high ethical standards and respect for diversity required for becoming effective individuals in their personal and work lives and moral and responsible participants in the world beyond.

We have systems in place to reflect (open office doors, an atmosphere that invites feedback, regular surveys, NEASC Accreditation).  It’s the best way to keep those plates spinning, although Martin Short shows that a good sense of humor doesn’t hurt, either!

Best Regards,


Steven Griffin

Greeting from the Head of School

“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference.

They are the father, the mother and the teacher.”

– A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

At Monday’s assembly, we gathered for the final time as a community before the New Year.

I was able to thank faculty members Asia Meirovich and Angie Muzzy for their efforts in staging our Winter concert of Music and Dance. Over 60 students stood and were recognized for their contributions to the performance, as well. This has been a year of transition, with our new arts faculty members staging the performance on campus for the first time in four years. Last weekend’s performances were yet another indicator that the arts are thriving at MacDuffie.

We were able to establish a new tradition, as our performers were invited to ring the victory bell.  The victory bell no longer rings solely in celebration of athletic accomplishments – it rings in celebration of excellence in all facets of MacDuffie life!

Also in assembly, I recognized that, no matter how much we speak of community here at MacDuffie; there is truly no replacement for the warm embrace of family. I wished students well in their travels home and a restful, safe vacation. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, the impending New Year, I wish the same for you and your families during this holiday season.

Best Regards,

Steven Griffin

Greetings from the Head of School

We can talk about community all that we want, but it is our actions that define us.  The past five days have shown incontrovertible evidence of a strong community at MacDuffie.

On Sunday, twenty-eight of our students came to campus to welcome prospective students to an open house.  They came because they believe in their MacDuffie education – because they want to share with others what it means to be a student and a community member here.  I am pleased to announce that the good news is spreading, as we had a record 35 families to our open house on Sunday.  Those families were able to glimpse the passion and the commitment of our teachers, and they were also able to sense the warmth of welcome from our students.  Eleven of those visitors have already returned to campus for a visit, with more on the way.

On Monday afternoon, about 100 community members attended a candlelight vigil for Skyler Anderson-Coughlin.  Skyler would have been a Senior had he not been taken from us in a tragic car accident on November 10, 2013.  Those who gathered around the Magnolia tree heard a strong message from Skyler’s mom, Seana Coughlin.  Seana implored us to work hard and play hard like Skyler did, and to search for a deeper meaning in it all, because we can never be sure when it will end.  I was particularly impressed to see members of our community in attendance who had never met Skyler.  They showed true selfless empathy for others who were struggling to deal with the absence of a dear friend.

After our School Vice President, Darien Guy, called a MacDuffie Spirit day, about 150 fans watched our first-ever Girls’ Varsity Soccer NEPSAC playoff game. We were able to support the team as they posted a convincing 4-0 victory. More importantly, it was yet another chance for us to come together as a tightly-knit, supportive community.

These community-defining (and community-enhancing) events happen all the time at MacDuffie, and there will soon be more opportunities for us to come together:  our winter athletic teams will have their opening games, and we will soon have the opportunity to celebrate our thespians, dancers and musicians as they display their talents.

Despite all of the evidence presented above, it is perhaps even more import that our community is defined daily through our small gestures and caring words.

Each action, large or small, reminds us what a truly special place this is.

Best regards,


Steve Griffin

Head of School

Greetings from the Head of School

Dear MacDuffie community,

I have developed a habit of “writing” my speech for candlelight on the way down Mt. Holyoke.  There is something meditative about the repeated footsteps of the descent that helps me to come up with something meaningful to share.

Below, I have transcribed (as well as possible from memory) the words that I spoke to the assembly of students, faculty and staff last Thursday.  This year, I was blessed to be able to hike down the mountain with my own 6th-grade daughter, and with other students from grades 6,7, and 11.  I was struck by the way the students interacted – by the way the built each other up – and I wanted to share that with others, and to thank everyone for being a part of our community.

Take a moment to look around you at the faces that are illuminated by candlelight this evening.  Some of these people you met for the first time today; others you have known for about a month, others for years.  All of us make up The MacDuffie School community.

If you can take one thing away this evening, remember that our community is built little by little – by every single interaction.    Every kind word spoken and helping hand lent builds our community….and our community is STRONG! and getting stronger every single day.

Please take a moment as you depart this evening to thank someone; thank the new members of the community for choosing to join us, and thank our Senior students – those who are experiencing the first in a “series of lasts” – for their contribution in building The MacDuffie School community to the great, tightly-knit circle that it is today.

We will now close with the alma mater.


Best Regards,

Steven Griffin

Greetings from the Head of School

Hello everyone,

June is always a time for reflection in the academic world – a time to marvel at how quickly the year has gone, to celebrate the good that has happened, and to commit to doing better at the not-so-good.

At our end-of-year faculty meetings, we always take time to celebrate the good work of others.  This year was remarkable in that there were so many accolades – from our French visitors to sports championships, from school plays to science fair, from new activities like Destination Imagination to old reliable ones like Diversity Day, we have  much to celebrate.  We’re so fortunate to be able to surround talented students with talented and passionate faculty and staff.

I always ask people to have a relaxing and refreshing break, so that they can come back to school ready to learn.  This year, I’m going to take a different tack.

If you are a student who is enrolled in ELL, I want to remind you that the best way to get better in English is to read in English!  Don’t enroll in SAT prep or study the dictionary – READ – and when you’re done reading, READ some more!

With that out of the way, I’m hoping that all of our students can talk about how and what they learned this summer upon their return to campus.  Whether it’s a summer job or internship, a commitment to community service or travel, or just a decision to inform yourself more about something, the summer can be a great time to diversify the way that you learn.

I look forward to sharing with all of you again in the fall.  To graduates and their families, I hope that you keep a warm place in your heart for MacDuffie and continue to keep us updated on your life’s journeys.

Best regards,

Steve Griffin