As the baton of leadership passes from one steady hand to another, The Salisbury School looks to the future with great expectations
There really is no other school in this region like The Salisbury School. It is something of an academic crucible, if you will, in which the most forward-thinking aspects and principles of 21st century progressive and experimental education embrace the most inveterate, time-tested canons of classical learning models. The result is a brilliant pre-K–12, college-preparatory medley of intellectual, ethical, social, technological and humanitarian training. This environment positions its pupils uniquely well to succeed not only in the highly competitive marketplace of American universities and colleges but even thrive within the complex tapestry of the emerging global community.
Founded by a coalition of parents in 1970, The Salisbury School has been able to achieve this illustrious status for a variety of reasons. One such reason is that by supporting a pre-K–12 enrollment of about 400, TSS has been able to achieve and maintain an amazing 7:1 student-to-teacher ratio, which less than half the national average or the average for the State of Maryland, according to the National Education Association.
Another reason is the way TSS allocates its funds and tuition, which is much more efficient than the traditional public-school model. This translates not only to things like a superior faculty but also superior facilities, resources and programs. Yet these are just a couple of key reasons TSS currently boasts a 100% college-placement rate and has successfully placed their graduates at Harvard, UPenn, NYU, USC, Columbia, Cornell and Johns Hopkins, among many other elite institutions.
Leadership, meanwhile, is also pivotal when it comes to achieving such consistently sterling results. Until May 2013, the school was led by its popular headmaster, James Landi, who’d been leading schools to excellence since the 1980s. Replacing the retiring educator wasn’t easy, but after an exhaustive search, TSS was finally able to find a worthy successor in the form of Ed Cowell.
As energetic and amiable as he is commanding of voice and stature, Cowell’s credentials are impressive by any standard. He not only graduated from Virginia Wesleyan College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology en route to his master’s from Virginia Commonwealth University in educational administration, he also completed all of his doctoral coursework in educational policy planning and leadership at the esteemed College of William & Mary. After college, he worked at Virginia Wesleyan for more than three years as the assistant director of housing and residential life before joining the faculty at William & Mary, where he’d spent six years as the director of multicultural planning. Following a stint as the associate dean of students at Bucknell University, Cowell accepted a position as dean of students at Salisbury University, where he’d served for seven and a half years. Hence, he comes to The Salisbury School with a wealth of experience and ideas.
“The Salisbury School was not a place that needed fixing when I arrived here,” Cowell said. “It was already a vanguard of pre-K–12 education as well as a regional model, especially in terms of results. Still, there are some areas of education in which I have some experience and ideas that I feel can benefit the short- and long-term goals of The Salisbury School. Additionally, the fact that I feel as much, if not more, at home in this setting than anywhere I’ve ever worked previously is, I think, an auspicious sign and an indication that we have a ideal fit here.”
“Last year, the school’s headmaster search committee went to great lengths to find a candidate who not only had the appropriate academic leadership credentials, but, as important, someone who really understood the ethos of The Salisbury School,” shared Steven Robinson, president of RPS ISG International in Cambridge and parent of two current TSS students. “With two sons enrolled at TSS, Ed Cowell and his family have a vested interest in the success of the school. He brings a unique and passionate perspective, which has allowed him to hit the ground running. I think Mr. Cowell has the ability to take an already great school to all-new heights.”
Along with his faculty and administrative staff, Cowell has already seen some exciting changes and enhancements at TSS. One such development is the school’s brand-new Summer Enrichment Academy. A three-week program at the lower, middle and upper schools, the academy aspires to create for the students experiential links, predicated on project-based programs, which demonstrate the real-world confluence of things like math, biology and environmental science in our everyday lives. In addition to providing essential and quality prep time for juniors facing the SATs, the academy will also bridge the gap between late-spring curricular studies and the following fall semester, to ease the transition from one grade to another.
Elsewhere on campus, TSS has also enlarged its International Studies’ housing facility, where 16 foreign-exchange students are poised to explore domestic culture while receiving a first-rate education. Perhaps even more exciting, however, is the expansion of the technology department, which was initiated last September. The expansion includes not only up-to-the-minute faculty, curricula, materials and resources designed to impart sophisticated academic immersion in the fields of technology, programming and coding on an in-class and after-school basis, the department is even launching a pilot program that will focus on the cutting-edge field of robotics.
With the arrival of Cowell as headmaster, as well as the industry-leading initiatives, innovations and enhancements going on at The Salisbury School, the competitive advantages its students have enjoyed for so long are sure to remain well
intact far into the future.
THE SALISBURY SCHOOL