The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

Patriotic Parking Lot
Patriotic Parking Lot
Kendall Law, Staff Writer • April 1, 2024
Mast Head
Whittier StaffApril 1, 2024
xr:d:DAF-GJqr3f4:3,j:5423879968535626289,t:24022816
Erewon in the Cafeteria
Sarah Levenson, Staff Writer • April 1, 2024
New Head of School: Suga-Sheed
New Head of School: Suga-Sheed
Mitchell Brenner, Staff Writer • April 1, 2024

Happy Trails, Ms. Zug!

Happy Trails, Ms. Zug!

As we dive into the new year, big changes are afoot. Ms. Zug, head of Upper School at WFS, announced early this year that she’s stepping down from her role and pursuing new horizons. As we wish her well on her journey, let’s review the 13-some years Ms. Zug has stood at the helm and steered WFS through fierce storms and clear skies alike. 

 

Ms. Zug came to WFS from Washington D.C. in 2010, following the leadership of Rob Lake. Annie McDonough ‘13 covered the story of Zug’s arrival in the April 2010 issue of the Whittier. “It is exciting to think of a new and refreshing personality joining our community next fall,” she wrote. As part of the same article, Ms. Zug shared her hopes for her leadership at WFS. “I will certainly spend time in classrooms, getting to know the teachers, the curriculum, and the students,” she said. “The Quaker process is extremely important to me. I am a firm believer in the power of collective, reflective decision-making.” When she arrived, Ms. Zug set clear goals and saw her place in the community. “I want to make sure that by my actions and words, the whole WFS community understands that I am here to support the school and all its constituents going forward. I feel lucky to be coming to such a wonderful institution.” Now, 14 years later, Ms. Zug is saying her goodbyes

 

Much has changed at WFS during Zug’s tenure. The school size has become larger in terms of students and faculty. WFS has adopted laptops, which has come with online courses and greater accessibility. Service learning in the summers has grown enormously, and student financial support to help students take advantage of those opportunities. Mandarin has become a world language offered at the school. The schedule has changed dramatically. “I am very proud of how we’ve continued to tweak our schedule,” says Zug, looking back. “Having a late start, I think, is great. Up until a few years ago we didn’t have flex or excel. We used to only have these 15-minute breaks during the day and otherwise we had a lot of class.” Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic brought fear and strife worldwide, and WFS was no exception. Being a leader during such a tumultuous time was tricky. “The pandemic was hard on everybody. Really hard,” said Zug. Ms. Butterfield, Upper School music and performing arts teacher, has been at WFS since 2003. She said: “There were lots of things that had to go away and then come back. I am grateful for how she has helped us navigate regaining some of the nebulous gray areas that we had to enter. We felt very lost and now it feels like we are back on the path.” 

 

Beyond tangible additions, Ms. Zug has created a community for WFS students and faculty alike. Ms. Zug is a birthright Quaker, and central to her management of the school is listening carefully to all voices and deliberating mindfully before coming to decisions. “I hope students feel seen and heard, hopefully by me, but if not by me, I want every student who graduates here to feel they have multiple adults who are their champions and who see them as more than one-dimensional. I hope faculty feel that way about how I see them. I hope that student-centered ethos is something that I’ve continued to cultivate.”

 

 “She’s added a supporting and nurturing environment for students and faculty, which was very much needed when she came in,” says Ms. Bulk, co-clerk of Upper School faculty and chair of the World Languages department. “She has a very lively and active mind, and that’s been a pleasure to work with. She has vibrant ideas. There’s been a thousand little tweaks she’s done, and she’s leaving us with a really well-functioning machine here.”

 

“One of the things that I have so appreciated about teaching here is that faculty voice is valued and sought,” says Ms. Butterfield. “I came here from an institution where everything was very top-down from the administration.” 

 

So what’s left to do? “I think there are opportunities with summer courses and ways we could amplify student leadership,” said Zug. “The advising program is organically wonderful, but we could offer some more guidance and instruction for those who aren’t comfortable with all aspects of advising, since it’s a critically important part of being a teacher here. There are more IB courses we could teach, but we’d need to figure out how to do that. We can’t teach everything, but I think this is a place where people are open to innovation and improvement. I was impressed with that from day one.” 

 

“A couple big questions we’re going to be facing are the role of AI and what it is that we do here. I’m hopeful that whoever we hire will be an AI optimist and adopter in appropriate ways,” says Bulk. “I think there’s been a shift in the population of the students in that we have a lot more students who need more academic support. Not all teachers know exactly how best to address that so I think we need someone to help us figure that out. Otherwise–” she adds– “we’re in a pretty strong place. I’m really thankful for that.” 

 

What’s next for Ms. Zug? She’s planning to take a gap year and spend six to eight months in England, visiting Quaker schools and immersing herself in what she likes best. Her dissertation is on Quaker school leadership and decision-making, so hopefully, she will learn from other schools’ systems while she decides where she’s headed. 

 

“I have loved it,” says Zug. “It’s not always been easy. But I couldn’t have asked for a better education for our boys, and I feel I’ve been afforded a lot of opportunities to grow and learn. The energy and spirit of the students at Friends is just unparalleled. I am going to miss the students more than anything. I appreciate the curiosity, the academic journey students are on, I appreciate their humor, the questions they have, the protests they have… all of it. It’s a privilege to be on that journey.” 

 

As your journey continues, WFS says: well wishes and happy trails!

 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Jemima Smith, Staff Writer
Jemima Smith (senior) is a columnist for the Whittier Miscellany this year and has been a staff writer for the past 2 years. She considers herself a creative writer, but being a journalist and columnist for the Whittier has broadened her experience and made her more open to non-fiction writing. She enjoys covering lots of different topics, but most frequently arts, culture, and science. Excited spiels about human nature, fascinating art, and strange phenomena are where she thrives. 

Comments (0)

All The Whittier Miscellany Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *