Welcome to an Extraordinary School
I am honored and humbled to be named the 20th head of school at Rowland Hall. On my first visit to campus in April of 2019, it was clear to me that this is a warm and welcoming community that cares deeply about learning and prioritizing the student experience. My family and I immediately knew this is the place where we wanted to be.
The future of education is exciting, particularly at independent schools like Rowland Hall. It is up to us to teach the curriculum we think best prepares students for the future. With our expert faculty and supportive families, caregivers, and friends, we will continue the tradition of excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts, coupled with a growth mindset and a commitment to equity and justice. We are empowered to create a community that reflects the world we want to live in while positively impacting others.
I am excited to spend my first year as head of school listening to, learning from, and collaborating with our students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and friends. I also look forward to greeting all the new and prospective members of our community and trust that you will find this school as welcoming as I have.
Head of School
On October 24, Rowland Hall officially welcomed Mick Gee, our 20th head of school, to the community with a virtual installation.
Mick has taken over the leadership of Rowland Hall at a significant moment in history, bringing with him over 30 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in public and independent schools in the United States and England. Mick chose to come to Rowland Hall for its caring community, talented faculty and staff, and strong Board of Trustees, and he looks forward to building on the school’s strengths.
We invite you to enjoy the above video, featuring Mick and several community members. We hope that, though we were unable to have an in-person installation, the film helps you feel connected to this historic moment.
As we enter the second half of the academic year, the Rowland Hall team is hard at work preparing for milestone events, including the April 24 all-community celebration honoring beloved Head of School Alan Sparrow, who retires in June. After Alan’s departure, Rowland Hall will begin a new era, with Michael “Mick” Gee installed as our 20th head of school; he begins July 1.
Mick was the natural choice to lead Rowland Hall, and the Head of School Search Committee, formed after Alan announced his retirement in October 2018, was unanimous in recommending him for the job. In her June 2019 email to the Rowland Hall community, Board Chair Jennifer Price-Wallin wrote, “Throughout our comprehensive process, Mick emerged as the educational leader who best embodies the core attributes our school community seeks in our next head.”
Mick’s background—rich in administrative leadership and teaching experience—will be instrumental in building on Alan’s 28-year legacy and the school’s 153-year history. Many in our community are especially excited about how Mick’s science training will help shape the school. Prior to becoming an administrator, Mick taught courses like physics and chemistry, which greatly influenced his approach to education and his beliefs about how students learn and their capacity for knowledge.
“I always say there’s a big difference between teaching science and teaching kids to be scientists,” Mick explained. “We do a lot of the former—we teach a lot of knowledge, and we do labs and things like that. But we don’t often give kids a chance to be real scientists who create knowledge—who actually go into uncharted areas and solve problems by devising their own experiments.”
It’s important for students to feel that the work they’re doing can have an actual impact. That’s an incredibly powerful experience.
This mentality dovetails with the momentum from Rowland Hall's Strategic Plan that is already happening on our campuses: teachers such as Molly Lewis and Alisa Poppen have championed similar ideas around empowering students to become scientists. And this approach is especially appealing to today’s students, Mick said, because they are looking for context and meaning for what they learn in class—and they want to make a tangible difference.
“I think it’s important for students to feel that the work they’re doing can have an actual impact,” he said. “That’s an incredibly powerful experience.”
One way Mick has supported active learning was through the creation of three Centers for Impact—for STEM and innovation, global engagement, and entrepreneurship—at Allendale Columbia School in Rochester, New York, where he is currently head of school. Today, these centers give students opportunities to apply classroom skills and knowledge in real-world ways—for example, their science research course is designed to allow students to choose their own research thesis, collaborate with an expert in their chosen field, and present their findings to peers. Some students have even been published.
“It sounds like I’m describing PhD research—and some of the students that I’ve seen do this are in third grade,” Mick said. “We used to think students in third, fourth, or fifth grade could only learn knowledge—they couldn’t create knowledge. It’s just not true. Now we see students of all ages engaged in problem solving from a scientific and engineering point of view. They’ve got the skill set, they’re applying the skills, and they’re coming up with solutions that many adults haven’t thought of.”
Importantly, Mick believes that teachers of any subject, not just the sciences, can create active engagement opportunities that prepare students to enjoy pursuing knowledge, helping them thrive in an ever-changing world.
“Schools are where we find the joy in learning,” he said.
A native of the United Kingdom, Mick has over 30 years of experience in education, starting as a science teacher in Nottingham and most recently concluding eight years as the head of Allendale Columbia School in Rochester, New York. He holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and analytical sciences from Loughborough University in the UK, where he later earned a postgraduate certificate in education (the equivalent to a master of arts in teaching). He went on to obtain his master's in education leadership from Columbia University.
Mick was appointed in summer 2019 after a yearlong search process to replace retiring Head of School Alan Sparrow. He impressed the search committee with his demonstrated capacity for visionary leadership, his proven ability to inspire and engage all constituents across a school community, and his significant experience in innovative programming. Mick was drawn to the leadership opportunity at Rowland Hall because of our school's values and commitment to fostering both academic excellence and ethical citizenship.