On Tuesday, January 24, Head of School John C. Warren '74 announced that he and his wife Laura Appell-Warren, director of the global citizenship program at St. Mark's, have decided to retire at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year.
"The decision to leave St. Mark's is not an easy one, as St. Mark's has been a warm and welcoming home to us since 2006, and we have greatly treasured the opportunity to serve this wonderful School in our respective roles," shared Warren, whose retirement will coincide with his 50th reunion at St. Mark's.
By the time Warren retires next spring, he will have served as head of school for 18 years, the third-longest tenure in St. Mark's School history. As President of the Board of Trustees Michael B. Moore pointed out, "John has led the School through a time of unprecedented development." Some of the major accomplishments to take place under his leadership include:
- The implementation of the St. Mark's School: 2020 strategic plan, which included the establishment of the Burgess Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, the development of a Global Citizenship program, and the creation of an integrated STEM curriculum.
- The opening of the STEM Center, designed to advance best-in-class teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering, and math.
- The launch of St. Mark's Saturdays and Lion Term, formally incorporating experiential learning into the educational program.
- The opening of our state-of-the art athletics and fitness facility, the T. Jefferson Coolidge, Jr. '50 Athletic Performance and Wellness Center, which has contributed to more than 100 student-athletes advancing to play at the college level since 2018.
- The completion of the Lives of Consequence campaign, the largest fundraising initiative in School history, which raised $112,042,614, surpassing its ambitious $110 million goal.
- The opening of the Alice Yin Hung '86 East Gallery and Patterson-Sculley House, our new 150-bed sustainable residence hall, reuniting all students on Main Campus and reimagining founder Joseph Burnett's "school under one roof" vision for a new generation.
- The success of the Global Citizenship Program, which offers transformative educational opportunities and partnerships with schools on every inhabited continent in the world.
"In addition, John has overseen the establishment of programs that are now central to St. Mark's identity, such as the C. Boyden Gray Colloquium lecture series, the Taft STEM Research Fellowship, and the Lions Roam travel program," added Moore. "Last year, St. Mark's was selected to participate in the highly selective University of Pennsylvania Independent School Teaching Residency Program–a testament to John's leadership of St. Mark's approach to teaching and learning and its commitment to professional growth, community and equity, and global citizenship principals."
Many of these notable accomplishments during Warren's time at the helm have been supported by extraordinary philanthropic generosity. Donations to St. Mark's during Warren's tenure have enabled the School to advance community and equity programming; to increase the financial aid endowment; and to establish the Faculty Excellence Fund, which meaningfully increased compensation.
A collaborative partnership between Warren and the School's Board of Trustees has also been instrumental to the School's successes. "Serving with gifted and committed Board presidents George Putnam '69, Tom Martinson '80, Bill Burgess '77, Aly Scott '85, and Michael B. Moore '80, and their Trustee colleagues has been a great honor," said Warren.
"An equal honor has been serving with a highly skilled and deeply caring adult community of faculty and staff who ensure, day after day, that our students are able to do and be their best," he added. "An honor as well has been working with talented, caring students and watching them develop their intellect and character in ways that prepare them to lead lives of consequence."
Warren is "immensely proud of the intellectual vibrancy that exists at St. Mark's and the continuing emphasis on character throughout our educational program." He is also proud of the many contributions his wife Laura has made to the School during their time here together.
"I appreciate most of all Laura, who has been my constant companion on our leadership journey that began in 2006," he shared. "Laura has built a global citizenship program now recognized throughout the independent school world as a model to be emulated. The welcome she ensures that faculty and staff, students, parents, and Trustees feel in our home, the sophistication of Laura's approach to teaching, and the care she bestows upon advisees and the Monitors and other students she engages with remain an inspiration to me."
While St. Mark's will soon begin a search for the next head of school, the Warrens will continue to serve "with great enthusiasm" for the next 18 months.
"We are highly motivated to continue to serve St. Mark's in our respective capacities to the absolute best of our abilities right up until our last day," shared Warren. "We deeply love this School and are excited about what the future holds for it both in the short term and the long term."
Photography by Kathleen Dooher and Jeff Pinette