Lainie Schuster came to Fay in 1994 as a long-term substitute teacher in Upper School and then moved to Lower School as a mathematics and fifth grade homeroom teacher. Widely respected and admired by her colleagues, Lainie served as Anne Bishop’s unofficial assistant Head of Lower School for a number of years; and when Anne was appointed Head of Fay’s new Primary School in 2010, Lainie was appointed the new Head of Lower School. While excited by the opportunity, Lainie was reluctant to leave the classroom behind. She accepted this new role with the understanding that she could continue to teach at least one class each year. Lainie is a teacher at heart, and she loves to teach – both children and other teachers. During the course of her career, she has traveled the country to teach whole districts of teachers about the benefits of using hands-on, constructive mathematics in the elementary classroom.
As Head of Lower School, Lainie has successfully overseen important transitions. She led the establishment of a new Lower School division made up of grades three to five, and then she envisioned and designed a new, comprehensive program for the sixth grade when it became part of the Lower School. Lainie’s tenure at Fay and her position in the “middle” division has enabled her to be effective in making connections among all three divisions and to improve the transition for students moving from one division to the next. Lainie has strengthened connections between the School’s three divisions, with Learning Services, and with the Office
of Admission. As a result, the School’s decisions about students’ enrollment and re-enrollment are better-informed and more thoughtful.
Lainie never rests on her laurels, and she is committed to identifying opportunities that strengthen and enrich the Lower School program. I know she is especially pleased with the evolution of the One School, One Book program, which provides a special opportunity to connect students, families, and faculty as the entire Lower School reads and discusses the chosen book each year. Lainie is justifiably proud of this impressive program that has become a hallmark of the Lower School experience at Fay.
Lainie is a charismatic leader and also a strong advocate for servant leadership. As a master teacher, her credibility is firmly established in the eyes of the faculty. As a leader, she has been able to find the right balance between being clear about expectations for teachers and students and responding to individual needs and concerns. Lainie is accessible, receptive, and responsive, in spite of the demands on her time that her role requires. Faculty know what she expects, and they know she will hold them accountable; they also know she is fair, reasonable, and caring. Lainie never takes the easy way out.
Lainie oversaw the successful completion of the past two school years in the Lower School despite the extraordinary challenges presented by the pandemic. Her collaboration with colleagues and her active oversight of regular communication with parents facilitated a smooth transition to a remote learning program and effective implementation of a very different approach to teaching and learning last spring. With the return to in-person teaching in the fall, Lainie was actively involved in planning and implementation to support students, families, and faculty as we navigated and responded to changing conditions and requirements. While this past year may have been characterized by worldwide uncertainty and anxiety, Lainie ensured that our students, families, and faculty could feel that the Lower School – and by extension, Fay School—was a source of continuity, stability, warmth, and community.
Lainie, thank you for your 27 years of teaching, learning, and leading at Fay. Our school is a better and stronger place because of your outstanding work, your unwavering dedication, and the expectation of excellence you set for yourself, our students, and our faculty. All of us are grateful for everything you have accomplished.