This year, Grant Hightower has joined the Concord Academy community as the Director of Community and Equity. Previously, this position has been held by both Courtney Thomas and Peter Boskey. Prior to joining CA, Grant worked with Reading Public schools as the director of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) program, which works to eliminate racial imbalance through bussing city children to suburban public schools.
After the last school year, Hightower began looking for a new position. “I didn’t have a destination in mind.” he recalled, “I just knew that where I was, was no longer gonna be able to support the work and change I was into.” He came across CA in his search and was interested in their 15 years of sustained work trying to establish the Community and Equity Office and their commitment to continuous growth. “I’ve always been about growth, I’ve always been about understanding people’s idea of what’s possible,” Hightower says.
Raised in Ledyard, Connecticut with his mother, a librarian, his father, who worked in HR, and his brother. Hightower had a fascinating childhood, Ledyard is located alongside the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe reservation. Hightower recounts his parents building a world in which he and his brother could grow inside their understanding of Blackness and human difference which was amplified by living next to a reservation and experiencing cultures vastly different than his.
Hightower’s earliest memory of racial hate was during his time as a Boy Scout in Ledyard. “Every memorial day they had a parade that we got to be a part of,” he said, “Everyone had American flags, and as we’re walking I felt a jab on my back. It was these two White boys who were older than me. I looked back at him and he saw me, but didn’t stop jabbing me in the back.” Hightower hated school as a kid, and yet it was the experiences with his first teachers that taught him teachers could be caring and that discipline could be a learning experience.
At 36, Hightower wasn’t always sure about his career path. Upon graduating high school, he went into American International College to study to be a sportscaster. It was only when he moved off campus and a roommate asked him to volunteer at a homeless shelter that his experience in social services began. “It was a great experience not because of the pain and degradation but because of the readjustment for my understanding of humanity.” From his job at the center, Hightower began working with adolescents and found his true passion to be helping people make meaningful changes.
Here at CA, Hightower has many jobs. “Part of what I do is to help the school realize its mission, this whole idea of striving for equity and building true community. The how is mostly where the work is.” As C&E director Grant looks to what the school does well and tries to figure out programming that helps to better equip students and faculty for situations they might encounter within the community.
Hightower lives with his wife Chanelle, who he’s been married to for 12 years, and their four children in Methuen, Massachusetts. He enjoys researching and getting information on human services and his favorite color is black.