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Jennifer Weyburn Formally Installed as Packer's Tenth Head of School

Special Content
Read Dr. Jennifer Weyburn's speech. Scroll through the story for links to other speeches.
Watch a video of the entire ceremony, including the student video.
See more photos in our Flickr album.

“We are making a bit of history tonight,” said Cynthia Gardstein ’66 IVAc, former Trustee and Director Emeritus, Alumni Board, as she introduced Dr. Jennifer Weyburn at an installation ceremony held in the Packer Chapel on Friday, October 18, 2019.  

Dr. Weyburn is only the tenth Head of School in Packer's 175-year history, and the first woman to be appointed to the position. 

“It makes this evening even richer,” said Cynthia (read her full remarks). 

This historic distinction was recognized many times — and applauded — by the hundreds of parents, alumni, faculty, staff, and students in attendance. 

Deborah Juantorena, Chair of the Board of Trustees, described Dr. Weyburn's visit to New York during the search process, recounting the downpour they faced as while on a tour intended to showcase the attractions of Brooklyn. During that visit, and in Dr. Weyburn's sessions with the entire Packer community, “it became clear that Jen and Packer were a perfect match,” said Debbie. “Jen's skill set aligns perfectly with Packer's core values of scholarship, creativity, diversity, integrity, joy, and respect” (read her full remarks). 

“It’s clear from Jen’s leadership style that she believes a work-life balance is not just possible but necessary — for us to best serve our kids and be role models for them, said Semeka Smith-Williams, Director of Diversity and Equity.

“Jen reminds us to take care of ourselves — so that we have the strength and courage to accept what is asked of educators today. As she leads our community through a new strategic plan, a historic construction project, and the day to day schooling of our children, we know she will encourage our Packer collective thoughtfully and with a collaborative spirit.”

Noah Reinhardt, Assistant Head of School and Middle School Division Head, joined Semeka at the podium. He remarked on the impact Dr. Weyburn has already had on Packer's professional community.

“As parents, we choose a school not just for our children but for our families. As employees, we choose to work in schools that reflect our personal values, and that speak to our sense of what is right for children. We seek schools that that have meaning and purpose, and that make a difference to the young people they help to shape, their families who love them, and the adults, they one day become.

He continued: “These choices are a leap of faith. And we gather here in this room tonight, to reaffirm those choices, and to give that faith, and the hope and confidence behind them, to Jen, as she steps into this new role in this old school that we love” (read Noah and Semeka's full remarks). 

Students Izabella Lizarazo ’20 and Yusuf Haque ’20, President and Vice President of the Upper School Student Council, respectively, spoke on behalf of the student body (read their full remarks). They shared a short film created by Jordan Renville ’20, in which Upper School students shared their hopes for Dr. Weyburn. 

“The best definition of installation,” said Dr. Weyburn, “is ‘to be set up for use or service.’ I know I feel the way that our faculty do, that we are so lucky to get to work with our students. Teaching is our avocation. It is an expression of our desire to serve. And in this particular age, working with and serving young people is an infinite source of my optimism about the future.”

Touching on topics from the Harry Potter series to Danish philosopher Søren Kirkegaard to Packer's founder Harriet Packer, she emphasized the centrality of students in the Packer community (read her full remarks). 

“On this night of my formal installation, the beginning of my service to Packer, and the next chapter in its history, I want to say that I believe we are all being installed — as members of this community — faculty, families, alumni, friends. We are all here to be useful, to serve our students.”

After the ceremony, Dr. Weyburn expressed her gratitude. “I'm overwhelmed by the warmth of this community. I offer my deepest thanks for the welcome that my family and I have received, and I sincerely look forward to our work together.” 


See more photos in our Flickr album.
Watch the entire ceremony, including the student video, below. 

Deborah Juantorena: 00:01 
Izabella Lizarazo ’20, Yusuf Haque ’20: 07:45
Student Video by Jordan Renville ’20: 09:06
Semeka Smith-Williams and Noah Reinhardt: 11:23
Cynthia Gardstein ’66 IVAc: 21:25 
Dr. Jennifer Weyburn: 24:15
Faculty and Staff Singers: 40:26


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