Head of School
Know Your Pelicans
This is your first year as Packer's Head of School. What about Packer inspires you?
From the moment I started getting to know Packer last year, I have been deeply inspired by how much this learning community means to each member. The commitment and joy that students, faculty and staff, and parents articulate here is astounding.
I am also in awe of how Packer not only serves students today, but also has thrived for so many years — in 2020, it’ll be 175 years! I am curious to know more about all of the people who have come through here, and the ways in which Packer has impacted who they are.
Before becoming an administrator you were a Middle and Upper School English and History teacher. Since then, you have still taught periodically. What do you like most about being in the classroom?
It is such fun to work with students. I learn so much from them. Even if we are working on a topic or a book I have taught before — and probably even more so then, frankly — it is a real pleasure to explore ideas together. Students often come at issues with different ways of thinking from mine. I cherish this more and more as I grow older. It continues to be a joy and a challenge to figure out what particular strategies I can use to help each student learn new skills.
Name a book/artwork/piece of music that changed your life and explain how.
Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, which I probably read around age 15, was a complete revelation to me. The life circumstances of Celie, the main character, were so different from my own, and the book so powerfully depicted a different time and place. The narrative was so intimate — it hit me very hard, emotionally. Books like this, as well as many other forms of art, have moved me deeply; I credit them with a great deal of my understanding of the world.
What is something that most Packer people wouldn't guess about you?
At times, I feel very shy.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I would love to be able to fly! But it would have to feel like soaring, gliding effortlessly — not hard work, like swimming underwater. The closest I have come to flying is the exhilarating feeling of skiing fast down a very steep slope (with no moguls). I have always loved birds. And I envy them.
Follow Dr. Weyburn on Twitter @jweyburn.