RE-PRINT: Women on High


Photograph by KSD

Mariandl Hufford, our new Head of School, will address the whole community on May 14th in the CFA.

Published originally April 24, 2019. But worth considering again now.

The year: 1938. Miami Country Day School is an all-boys boarding school where the sole females are teaching in lower school and holding secretarial jobs. Zoom to 2019. We are a thriving, co-educational community with a mission to develop “the whole child.”  Times have surely changed. What’s more, in the upcoming school year, for the first time, we will welcome a new configuration in our leadership: a female Head of School, Director of Lower School, Director of Upper School, Assistant Director of Upper School, Dean of Faculty and Human Resources, Chief Information Officer, Director of Admissions  and Director of Philanthropy. For the first time in MCDS history, females will have the administrative upper hand.

Photograph by S Gill
Predominantly positive results.

The Spartacus staff recently conducted a poll to determine how students actually felt about the new incoming administration. The research demonstrates that most people are enthusiastic about this change. Of the twenty-three students who responded,  43.5% felt gender made no difference to them. More than one respondent wrote that they believed “as long as they are qualified for the job, I see no reason to feel any different.” Additionally, 47.8% felt positive about the new administration. Some of these students added remarks like, “it’s about time”, and that they are “glad to see change.” Only one responded negatively to the question, and their response did not give much explanation as to why they felt this way; they simply replied, “because I do.”

Freshman Rachel Hodes expressed that she is extremely excited for the faculty changes in Country Day next year, and that she’s,  “excited to see where the future will take us.”

While most students have expressed that having the new female Head would make no difference to their academic lives, one student, who responded to the poll, brought up the point that “it allows them to understand more [about] women’s issues, such as uniform.” Having women participate more in decision-making will allow issues that may have been overlooked as a result of never having had a substantial female point-of-view represented in the administration.

According to Gary Butts, President of MCDS, the topic of gender never even entered the conversation when making hiring decisions. In a sit-down interview, he told us he was focused on the qualifications.  “You know what? Until you just mentioned it…it might have crossed my mind. But no, not at all. We hired the best people.”

Regarding the qualifications of the incoming Head of School, Mariandl Hufford, Mr. Butts said, “the one thing that stood out the most, above everybody else was her commitment to academic excellence and an understanding of large day school operation in a metropolitan area.” What’s more, the Civil Acts Law of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on gender, so, it would in fact, be illegal to hire based on sex preference.

While it is quite obvious the student body can view this as a positive implementation, our  faculty, as well, seems elated to welcome the new female administrators with open arms.

Carolyn Dorn, who has been working at MCDS for the last forty years, feels next school year is “going to be an exciting year. I’m looking forward to it. I think the faculty is excited. Change can be exciting, it can be stimulating, and it can be very worthwhile. Sometimes we need change [ Yet] there’s not going to be as many changes as I think people are expecting. We’re going to continue being who we are.”

Mrs. Dorn obviously believes that the high standards this school is and has been known for prior to the new administration, will be maintained. “I think it’s going to be business as usual. And I think the business as usual is striving for excellence. So regardless of gender, regardless of change, I think it’s an exciting time and I’m looking forward to it.”