From Beijing & Philly to Miami: Meet Jim Connor

Our Interim Head of School


Photograph by Gabriella Marchesani

Jim Connor, Interim Head of School

Peering into the eyes of his infant daughter, Jim Connor had an epiphany. A life changing moment. Pausing in the conversation we had, he reflected on when, as a father, he realized that being the lawyer he was studying to be might offer him a better salary, but not afford him the ability to truly be with his children.

“One beautiful summer night, I was holding my six month old daughter, and that’s when I had an epiphany,” Mr.Connor remembered. “Who’s going to be with Katie [his daughter] when I’m not?” In that instant, he realized that those people — those who would be caring for her — were teachers, and he wanted to be one of them.

While his decision to pursue a career in education took place decades ago, he has never regretted it. Now, more than 30 years later, we are lucky to have this passionate educator take over as Interim Head of School, following the retirement of Dr. John Davies.   

Jim Connor is glad to be a part of an independent teaching institution like Miami Country Day School. He appreciates the personal connection between a teacher and a student. The attention a student can recieve with a manageable number of students is important to him. The overall “warmth” of the school, he thinks, allows teachers to learn about their students.

He believes that “change is a positive, fun, and a great way for growth,” not only for himself personally but for the school community. The change he would like to implement “starts with listening,” says Mr. Connor. “I’m here to direct.”  He hopes to be a resource with helping the new curriculum adjustment improve in the school for when the new head of school comes the following year.

Cultivating relationships with the Senior class members is high on his list. “I don’t want to just be someone who hands them their diploma, I want them to know who I am, and I want to know them.” He hopes he will be able to help students make their voices heard by implementing forums of education for discussion.

He believes the dedication of a teacher makes all the difference. “Culture of the school is special when teachers don’t have to be here [at school]” says Mr.Connor, but stay extra hours for their students.  He feels that the culture of learning changes with teachers who are deeply committed.

Before Mr. Connor retired for his first time, he worked at Germantown Academy, a private school in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Going from twenty-four degrees Fahrenheit up north to a rare “cold” sixty degrees in Miami Shores, he says both schools have similar ideologies with students who strive to learn.

One program he is proud of from his time at Germantown Academy, is the global expansion of their school. He was able to go to several countries in Europe and Asia to help implement a Western-type of education and help foreign students to come to the Germantown as exchange students. He remarked, “these children end up not wanting to leave.” He feels that “exporting creativity” is a key component of those programs. Teachers come from abroad to learn different ways of teaching for sometime, then go back to their home countries and teach with a new innovative way of thinking. He mentions how important it is to him to help these students in Beijing, China be able to love to learn rather then studying to take a test.

In Bosnia, where he visited children and their families he helped children be able to have access to western education. These children had to travel twenty-four hours in a dirty bus with no AC to take the SAT, in the hopes of getting a scholarship. “We sometimes take so much for granted,” he says after mentioning the struggles of children in Bosnia.

Ironically, Connor used to hate school in high school. He wanted to play sports, read and dedicate his time to the arts. His bad experience in his high school years helped him understand what not to do as a teacher or administrator. While a teacher, he wanted his students to enjoy learning. When he was a baseball coach, he wanted the team to love or appreciate the sport and now he hopes to inspire students to want to continue education.

After some bumps in Connor’s journey to become an educator, he finds he loves his career even more and is able to appreciate it more. He went to three colleges. The first one he transferred out of. The second one, he dropped out of, not knowing what to pursue. He then spent a summer paving roads and fixing roofs, when he realized he needed to get a degree to work in a career which interested him.

Connor is excited to be in Miami Country Day School because he will be immersed in a new culture. He says there weren’t many Latinos where he lived and is loving to be immersed with a new world of different ethnicities. Respecting genders, races and cultures is important to Connor. He hopes to continue spearheading and leading a community where everyone will feel accepted.

Be sure to introduce yourself to Jim Connor. He is eager to meet and listen to everyone.