Five Ways Our Middle School Principal is Cooler Than Yours

Five Ways Our Middle School Principal is Cooler Than Yours
Dina ElBoghdady

New Middle School Principal Kelsey Twist Schroeder has served as an independent school administrator on both coasts, lectured on education nationally, and trained teachers in teaching leadership at the Gardner Carney Leadership Institute, where she remains a faculty member.

Kelsey, who was born and raised in Baltimore, earned her BA and an MEd in Education at Stanford University. While teaching at a Baltimore high school, she completed an EdD in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. Kelsey joins GDS after serving as middle school division head at Hamlin School, an all-girls institution in San Francisco serving students in grades K-8. She is a parent of four (plus a dog) and a passionate gardener.

On Life in Athletics

As a 16-year-old, Kelsey played on the U.S. women’s under-19 lacrosse team that won a World Championship. A gifted varsity athlete, she was recruited by colleges for both lacrosse and basketball. Kelsey went on to captain the Division I lacrosse team at Stanford University and played on the school’s practice team for basketball.

Athletics taught her that effort matters as does winning (or losing) graciously, a mindset she applied to other aspects of her life. She remembers her father saying: “Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.”

On Parenting

Kelsey’s children with her spouse Jamie Lee (a radiologist and former Olympic rower) range in age from two to 14. “We get to be in all these different phases of parenting at once,” Kelsey said. Watching her children act in generous, inclusive, and loving ways towards others is her greatest joy. As both a parent and an educator, she appreciates the tension between allowing children to develop their independence while also protecting them from harm.

On Lifelong Learning

Every summer as a child, Kelsey’s family spent nine weeks at the Chautauqua Institution, a 150-year-old cultural and spiritual lakeside retreat in New York devoted to intellectual inquiry and self-improvement through the arts, education, religion, and recreation. It’s where she had the chance to hear from world-renowned lecturers, sing in operas with professionals, and dash around a picturesque community on her bike with friends. Her time there helped shape her views on learning as an integral part of life. Kelsey now serves on the institution’s youth and family advisory council, and her children attend every summer.

On Middle School

Kelsey’s doctoral thesis at the University of Pennsylvania focused on cultivating leadership competency skills in early adolescents, which piqued her interest in Middle School. Her research with students at that age illustrated for her how much they deserve to be celebrated. The “moody teens” narrative needed replacing. Apart from infancy, she said, the middle school years are the most exciting, transformational, and often overwhelming period of growth in life.

On Gardening

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelsey and her family moved from downtown San Francisco to a house in the city’s Presidio neighborhood, where she had easy access to an organic community garden. “It was a blessing beyond compare,” she said. At the time, Kelsey was working from home because Hamlin had shifted to virtual learning. She said that caring for her vegetable plot marked a pleasant transition from her work day to her family life. She discovered that gardening resembles teaching in that it can be a meditative and celebratory experience (think first harvest!) that requires a long-term investment in an outcome that is not immediately foreseeable.



Five Ways Our Middle School Principal is Cooler Than Yours
  • Middle School

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