Alumni Profile- Archie Douglass G’71

Briefly describe your career after leaving St. FrancisArchieDouglass

I attended preschool and kindergarten at St. Francis before it added grades. Having been part of the inaugural 3rd grade in the fall of 1965, I left SFS in the spring of 1971, after 8th grade. I went on to four years of boarding school at St. Paul’s School (Concord, NH), then to Yale University, from which I graduated in 1979 with a B.A. in History. After brief stints in wilderness conservation and banking in California, I returned to New England and began work back at St. Paul’s in 1985, staying for 11 years as history teacher, coach, dorm master and director of college counseling. I earned an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1991. Then…

  • 1996-2001: Upper School Head, Landon School (Bethesda, MD)
  • 2001-2009: Headmaster, The Montgomery Academy (AL); also served on Board of Trustees of Southern Association of Independent Schools
  • 2009-2013: Principal, Pacific Collegiate Charter School (Santa Cruz, CA)
  • 2013-2014: Interim Head of School, Upland Country Day School (Kennett Square, PA)
  • 2014-present: Head of School, Greenwood School (Mill Valley, CA)

Looking back at your time at St. Francis, what stands out?

I loved its smallness, the intimacy, the familiarity. It always felt very safe. Sports were a big part of my day, and there was also a wonderful Art program, led by Susan Davenport and Sue Brown. I remember when we moved from the church in Harrod’s Creek out to Goshen; that was a mind-blowing change. I remember really great drama productions that Mr. Gupton oversaw.

Do you recall a specific teacher or friend that influenced you in some way?

  • Mrs. Graves, my 3rd grade teacher, was amazing – so tough and firm, but also so loving. I can still hear her drilling us with our multiplication tables: “Six eights are forty-eight”…over and over.
  • Ed Toone: Coach and history teacher, a fabulous role model, and his wife (Lynn?) was also so kind.
  • Headmaster Frank Cayce was so full of fun; every now and then he would come around and announce ‘Fool’s Friday’ and we would just play all day and have a picnic.
  • Lisa Rose, later Lisa Glenn was a fantastic, passionate, funny English teacher,
  • Ed Gupton was the best French teacher I ever had.
  • Mary Bruce Smith (now Rae-Grant, I believe), a classmate at SFS for 6 years (and probably pre-school and kindergarten also, though I can’t recall), was also in the same residential college at Yale for 4 more.
  • So many others…

How was your experience at St. Francis a factor in determining your career path?

Well, I suppose that, in making school fun and showing me I could be good at it, it made the prospect of life and work within a school community attractive.

What are the highlights of your career thus far?

During eight years as a school head in Alabama, I worked to increase – significantly – the number and percentage of non-white students attending The Montgomery Academy; I am most proud of that sustained stand for diversity. I also led school through a rigorous Strategic and Master Planning process that generated a $13 million capital campaign, changed the campus appearance of the school, built a theater, and transformed the high school curriculum.

What are you currently working on/as?

In my first year as Head of Greenwood School in Mill Valley, CA…. The school is a small (125 students) PreSchool-8 day school, about 20 years old. It has grown out of a parent co-op into a respected local institution that incorporates the wisdom of Waldorf philosophy with best contemporary educational practices. My challenge is to take it to ‘the next level,’ which will hopefully include accreditation, NAIS membership, increased enrollment, and significantly enhanced financial stability.

How do you define success?

Two ways:

1) The sense of fulfillment I feel after doing my best at something.

2) Looking at my two sons and feeling nothing but pride and happiness at the young men they have become.