Ann Laquerre, President of Fay's Board of Trustees, shared the following remarks with Fay's faculty and staff when she announced the appointment of Susanna Waters as Fay's ninth head of school on October 3, 2023.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am pleased to announce the selection of Susanna Whitaker Waters as Fay’s next Head of School. Susanna will be Fay’s ninth head of school beginning July 2024. She will be the first woman since Fay’s founder, Eliza B. Fay, to hold this position.
Susanna is currently Associate Head of School for Academic Affairs at Brooks School in North Andover.
She joined Brooks in 2009 and over her 14 years there, she has served as a teacher, coach, advisor, residential life faculty member, history department chair, and Dean of Academic Affairs prior to her appointment as Associate Head of School in 2021. Susanna won an award for outstanding contributions to the school early on in her time at Brooks, and she later received an endowed faculty chair for excellence in teaching and leadership that was voted on by her colleagues.
In addition, she has served as a member of Brooks’ Diversity Leadership Council and a Davis Scholars Cohort & Fellowship Leader. Prior to joining Brooks School, she was a teacher and coach at Holderness School, and she began her career teaching seventh and eighth grade.
Susanna holds a master’s degree in education and a bachelor of arts degree from St. Lawrence University, in addition to a master’s degree in education in Private School Leadership from the Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University. A collegiate athlete, she was a two-time captain of St. Lawrence’s varsity lacrosse team.
Susanna graduated from The Park School (a K-8 school) and Concord Academy. She serves on the Board of Trustees at Park and was a trustee at The Village School, a private preschool in Boxford, MA. As a consultant for Phillips Academy Andover, she consulted on department and division learning competencies.
Susanna has a strong understanding of life in a boarding school, and an open and authentic leadership style. In addition to demonstrating an impressive track record of achievement over her 14 years at Brooks School, she shares a strong alignment with Fay’s values and mission.
Susanna is passionate about boarding and the opportunities that a school with boarding can offer to both its day and boarding students. This is grounded in her personal experience of boarding at Concord Academy, where she joined as a day student and transitioned to boarding in the 11th and 12th grades. She shared the impact that the boarding community had in supporting her through the passing of her mother who was an elementary special education teacher, and how her experience inspired her to pursue a career in education. At Holderness and at Brooks, she has taken what she describes as an “all in” approach and enjoys being part of strong school communities.
She shared with us how she raised her family at Brooks by “integrating the fabric of boarding life into [her] home”, in a way that has allowed both her and her family to form meaningful connections with the community.
At Brooks, 70% of the student population are boarders, with representation from 15 different nationalities. Susanna is intentional in how she engages with the international community at Brooks and understands the sacrifice that families make to send their children to boarding school. She is an empathetic leader, understanding “what it means to be there in the best and hardest of moments”.
Susanna enjoys building and leading teams and gains great professional satisfaction from serving others to create the conditions in which they can be at their best. She practices distributed leadership with her team, fostering a culture of collegiality and trust.
Susanna leads students and faculty with a deep commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging. She serves as a Diversity Leadership Council Member at Brooks, where she works to foster a sense of community and belonging within faculty and students. She recognizes the historical inequities that exist within independent schools, and she actively works to change this narrative by fostering an inclusive environment where all members of the community feel affirmed and supported.
As a recipient of financial aid as a student at Concord Academy, she has personally experienced the transformative power of education and the role that philanthropy plays in broadening access. Susanna shared that while at Brooks she worked with alumnus Andrew Davis to create the Davis Fellow Program to support students from underrepresented backgrounds. Established in 2018, the program has supported 13 students from underrepresented backgrounds on their journey to become first-generation college graduates. She has served as the Fundraising Director at The Village School, and she currently serves as Co-Chair of the SPARK campaign for The Park School leading a $30 million fundraising campaign.
Susanna participated in the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) School Leadership Institute, where her key strengths were highlighted as “enabling, empowering and embracing of servant leadership”. In our conversations with Susanna, she demonstrated herself to be highly self-aware and very willing to openly reflect on her own development as a leader as her experience has grown. Through clear communication and her open-door policy, she allows space for faculty to be creative in how they reach an objective, rather than prescribing the journey of getting there.
The Search Committee was impressed by Susanna’s warmth, energy, and enthusiasm. She reflected thoughtfully on the positive impact that enabling leadership has had on her own development, and she aims to embody that within her approach as a leader. Susanna’s interpersonal and relationship-building skills will serve to provide Fay with an inspiring leader and strong ambassador for Fay.
A true educator, Susanna’s background as the daughter of an educator, and her own experience in independent schools means she is a passionate advocate for the benefits of an independent boarding education. She views the Kindergarten through Grade 9 age range as the “ideal platform” to make a lasting impact on students' lives from the earliest years.
Susanna is excited to join the Fay community. Next summer, she will move on campus with her spouse, Willie Waters, who currently serves as Associate Director of Admission and Alumni Gifts Officer at Brooks, and their three children, Ainsley, age 10; Callum, age 6; and Camilla, age 2.
Susanna will be coming to campus in the next few weeks, and she made it clear to us that it is very important to her that she has the opportunity to spend time with all of you, as well as Fay’s students and families. We will share more information about these meetings shortly.
This is an exciting new chapter in Fay’s history as we celebrate Rob’s many achievements over the past 15 years and welcome our new Head of School.