I am excited to announce the appointment of Kimberley Berndt as Penn Charter's new Director of Upper School. Kimberley comes to Penn Charter with more than 20 years of work in independent, public and boarding schools. Since 2020, Kim has served as director of upper school at the Laurel School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where she is responsible for the direct supervision of the faculty and the implementation of the student academic program. A hallmark of her administrative work is clear and consistent communication with faculty, students and families. In addition, at Laurel, Kim implemented a professional learning community structure for the grade 6-12 faculty to grow as teachers, and she led the school's evaluation of its signature programs, identifying the next iteration of those programs.
Prior to Laurel, Kim spent a decade at St. Mark's School in Southborough, Mass., as the lead advanced biology teacher, science department chair, designer and implementor of new courses, dorm faculty member, and ice hockey and lacrosse coach, among other duties. Her other teaching experiences include four years at Trinity School of Midland, Texas, and seven years at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn. Kim also was a Teach for America corps member after college.
Kim earned a master of education in advanced instruction–STEM from the University of Southern California and a bachelor of arts in biology from Oberlin College.
Throughout the interview process, Kim impressed us with her philosophy of education, communications skills, and understanding of the needs of students and schools at this particular time in education. Specifically, her statement of educational philosophy highlighted three principles of her leadership: 1) Keep the student at the center; 2) Understand the context; and 3) Maintain a solutions-driven mindset. Having spent much of her career in boarding schools, Kim notes how she is "all in" to work on behalf of students, and as a mother (of adult children), she speaks about this being "full stop" work. As an example of her work ethic and being all in, last year at the Laurel School, Kim took over the coaching duties of the upper school lacrosse team to fill a coaching void.
I encourage you to review Kim's resume and read her statement of educational leadership philosophy.
Kim is excited about working at Penn Charter and has indicated to me that she looks forward to working in a Quaker School that aligns with her personal values. She is also interested in the work of Penn Charter at this particular moment in time, having written in her letter of interest, "… I am drawn to the work that Penn Charter has laid out for its future, specifically, how the social and emotional well-being of students must be central to the educational program and how Penn Charter can further challenge and grow its students—and faculty—through reimagining what authentic advanced scholarship looks like in our rapidly changing, complex, and interconnected world."
Kim's appointment is effective July 1, 2022. I look forward to introducing her formally to the PC community this spring before the end of school and to her being present at my full administrative team retreat in June once school concludes.
I remain thankful to George King, our Interim Director of Upper School, for his leadership and steady presence during this school year. We will have an opportunity to thank George for his service and to welcome Kim before the end of this academic year.
I know you will join me in doing just this!
Darryl J. Ford
Head of School