Earlier this spring, Interim Head of School Sarah Yeh announced that Grant Hightower will replace Sally Zimmerli as Interim Dean of Students for the 2022-2023 academic year.
“We are thrilled Grant will be bringing his wisdom, experience, empathy, and insight to this new role, and look forward to his leadership in the year ahead,” Yeh wrote in her email announcement to the Concord Academy community.
Jumping into such a big position so early in Hightower’s CA career was exciting and unexpected for him. Hightower, in an interview with the Centipede, shared, “I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work more closely with the students and community at CA. I never would have thought an opportunity like this would present itself, but I’m thankful to be embraced by our community and have experienced nothing but support since taking the role, so I am excited and grateful.”
Before arriving at CA, Hightower worked with high school students focusing his mission on empathy and “extending grace.” His own high school experience has had a large impact on his leadership. “High school was a horrible experience for me with a few bright spots throughout the years. However, I learned a lot about empathy, forgiveness, support, trust, and leadership in those years. Looking back at it, those painful years did a lot to form a foundation that I use to support the students and faculty at CA today, but I also look at the community we have here and wish I could’ve had the same growth in an environment that wasn’t as harsh as the one I came from.”
Despite this, Hightower believes that the relationships he made in high school were genuine, and he hopes that he can bring that same authenticity to CA. “It was a complicated relationship, one that I’m ultimately thankful for having, and if there’s anything I try to bring to CA, it’s the feeling of belonging that I felt briefly from the few people who took the time to let me know I mattered. Those feelings meant more to me than anything and I’m hopeful I can impact the community here in the same way,” Hightower shared.
The role of Dean of Students will open up many avenues to make structural changes to the school. Hightower has many new ideas that he hopes will improve the student body and community.
Hightower observed, “Right now some of the focus is on how we can be more expansive in our support of student life for our entire student community.” For him, this work is centered by several guiding questions: “What are the activities that can help provide joy, happiness, and belonging among the student body? What are the events and celebrations that can bring the community together? What are the traditions we want to keep, and what new ones can we help foster or grow?” Additionally, Hightower hopes to further CA’s efforts in establishing restorative practices as an addition to the school’s disciplinary process.
Although Hightower is moving just down the hall from his Community and Equity Office, he is leaving the position in Alexa Holmes’ capable hands as he takes the reins from Zimmerli. We look forward to welcoming Zimmerli back to the classroom, Hightower to the Student Life Office, and congratulate Holmes on her new role as the Director of Community and Equity!