The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Neal M. Brown as Friends Community School’s Interim Head of School. Neal, who will succeed current Head of School Angela Garcia, is scheduled to join the FCS community this summer and will serve in the role for two years. Neal is currently Interim Lower School Director for Creative Minds International Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, he served for two years as Interim Head of School at Lansdowne Friends School in Pennsylvania.
Neal has nearly 35 years of educational experience, including in Quaker schools. He has served as a classroom teacher, consultant/coach, assistant head and head of school, and member of a board of trustees.
“I am deeply drawn to FCS's economic and racial diversity, steadfast commitment to progressive education, and foundation of timeless Quaker values,” Neal said. “I look forward to working closely with Angela on the transition this spring; she and I have known one another as colleagues and friends since she arrived at FCS. I also look forward to getting to know everyone and doing a lot of listening and learning when I begin this summer. Together we can celebrate and build upon FCS’s strengths, and transparently address challenges, always with an eye toward what we feel is best for our students.”
In his “Statement of Educational Leadership Philosophy,” a factor in the Board’s decision to appoint him, Neal wrote: “I often speak with faculty and parents about the transformational nature of schooling. Our job as educators, beyond teaching skills and content, is to help students to learn about themselves and about the world around them. Effective schools serve to broaden and open students’ minds by challenging them academically and ethically. They learn the value of being in a community by practicing active citizenship, even from the very youngest ages.”
For 12 years, from 2008-20, Neal served as Head of School at Green Acres School in North Bethesda. Among his accomplishments at Green Acres, Neal led the school through two strategic plans; extended DEI and equity-based programming; strengthened curriculum and improved student enrichment; oversaw a master campus plan; managed over 55 administrators, staff, and teachers; coordinated improved teacher evaluation, mentoring, coaching, and professional development; and refocused instructional practices on the school’s innovative, progressive educational principles.
While serving at Lansdowne Friends School, Neal successfully led the school through the COVID-19 pandemic and implemented key changes resulting in: increased enrollment; improved benefits, and increased salaries for teachers; the advancement of DEI initiatives; and improved communication with staff and families. Neal cherished his time at this small, diverse Quaker school. As he wrote in his letter of intent: “The Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and environmental stewardship resonated strongly with me and with my sense of the universal values that can serve all children and adults well in school. I also greatly valued leading and being part of a less uniformly affluent community, and one that was majority BIPOC among the students and families.”
Neal attended Brown University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Teaching degrees. He later received a Doctor of Education degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His doctoral thesis, “Improving the First Year: How Opportunities for Faculty Collaboration, Support from Administrators, Reduced Workloads, and Formal Induction Experiences Impact First-Year Teachers,” was published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2004.
Neal is married to Laura Emmons. They have two children, Evan and Lila. Laura has worked in the field of Maternal-Child health for more than 30 years. For 25 years, she was a hospital-based nurse midwife, delivering hundreds of babies—some of whom later became FCS students! She currently does home visits educating and supporting families with newborns. Evan graduated from Bowdoin College in May 2022 and is teaching English in Valencia, Spain. Lila is a junior at Tulane. Both are products of progressive education, having graduated from Green Acres School and Georgetown Day School. Neal says the most consistently popular members of his family are 15-year-old Cockapoo, Stanley, and their two sibling cats, Sherlock and Watson!
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I offer our profound thanks to Angela, who has provided outstanding leadership to our community during her time as Head of School. We look forward to the opportunity to show our appreciation to Angela and to extend our best wishes to her as she completes her time at FCS this spring.
The Board of Trustees also expresses special thanks to the members of the Interim Head of School Search Committee and all the members of the FCS community who contributed to the search process.
Please join us in welcoming the Brown family to the community!
Margaret Weigers Vitullo
Clerk, Board of Trustees