Goodbye, Beautiful People!


Head of School Skerritt speaks at the Thanksgiving Pep Rally. (Source: Alex Strand (II))

On March 11, Boston Latin School Head of School Rachel Skerritt announced that she will step down at the end of the school year via email to the BLS community.

In 2017, Skerrit became the first person of color to lead BLS, and she has been closely involved with the community ever since. She frequently attends BLS athletic and academic competitions, supporting students with pride and enthusiasm.

The COVID-19 pandemic offered Skerritt time to reflect on her priorities as the leader of BLS. In order to spend more time with her family, she would no longer be able to devote as much time to the students and attending events. This was a sacrifice that she decided to make, as she needed to rest and spend time with her son.

Skerritt denies the numerous rumors that have emerged around her reason for resignation — she is in good health, she will not be the next superintendent and she was not fired from her position. Most of all, her decision was not influenced by the members of Class VI. She says, “It broke me that some of our youngest students think they are the reason I’m leaving; […] they are the exact opposite.”

In the past five years, Skerritt has led many significant changes around the campus. Along with navigating allegations of racism against the school that accompanied her arrival, she also had to confront the challenges that COVID-19 posed. Despite these difficulties, Skerritt says, “We must all keep moving forward together.”

Under Skerritt, BLS introduced new reporting systems for students who do not adhere to the community’s values. In addition, she promoted open conversations about all identities and educated the student body about cultural responsiveness. BLS English teacher Ms. Lynn Burke explains, “Many educators here have become more comfortable and adept at discussing difficult topics as a direct result of the manner and frequency with which she herself approached these conversations.”

Skerritt also values inclusivity and attentiveness. Due to the large student body, even when she thinks that she has done something right, the policies do not always work for everyone, and she strives to take time to care for those people.

Often seen interacting with others in the hallways or making announcements during lunch, Skerritt’s approachability is something that students appreciate. Natalie Poftak (II) recalls, “I [have] definitely seen her out in the halls talking to people and she’s a lot more approachable than, I feel, […] some of our other [Heads of School].”

Accompanying this, Skerritt’s Instagram page, which has almost 4,000 followers, is not only a testament to the diverse opportunities that BLS offers, but also to her dedication to the school community.

The new Head of School will be elected through the same process that Skerritt went through herself. A committee including parents, members of the Boston Teachers Union, students and community members will be formed in the coming weeks. The committee will take applicants through multiple screening processes, eventually voting for a single nominee. The Head of School nominee will then be approved by Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. The entire process will take about four to five weeks.

A meeting was held on March 28 to lay out these guidelines to the BLS community. After the meeting, parents and community members anonymously shared their expectations for the next Head of School, which ranged from “Keep the rigid standards!” to “[They] must be a teacher not a politician.” Some even suggested that the committee “clone Skerritt.”

Although Skerritt is not included in the selection process, she hopes the next leader will be working under relatively “normal” conditions, as the impacts of COVID-19 continue to subside. She wishes that they will continue to develop structures that help students learn effectively, while also prioritizing mental health. She emphasizes the importance of leading with love: “Love keeps you coming back the next day — love for the students, the community, the faculty, this place.”

Her resignation does not mean that she will not still be around the halls. Skerritt plans on staying close to Boston and attending BLS events. She concludes, “I’ll definitely stay engaged, and I’ll definitely continue to advocate for students and for this place.”