A Change of Leadership in the Midst of a Pandemic

The Marin School

In fall 2019, after nearly a decade of service, Dr. Barbara J. Brown announced her retirement as head of school at The Marin School. Known nearly as much for her love of dance as for her outstanding leadership, Barbara led TMS through many critical challenges and positive changes. While she is no longer at our school, Barbara continues to support our local community by recently becoming the part-time executive director of LITA (Love Is the Answer) Marin, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing loneliness and isolation of older people in Marin County.

Fortunately, at the time of Barbara’s retirement, TMS was prepared to welcome a TMS veteran into the important role of head of school. Former Assistant Head of School Ben Griggs, M.Ed., assumed the responsibilities of the role in fall 2020, while we were collectively about to enter a new school year dictated by COVID-19’s many restrictions. Ben took on this new challenge with exuberance, creativity and a wonderful sense of calm. 

The Marin School

“The timing of all of this has been interesting, to say the least,” he says. “Starting during the pandemic has actually provided me the opportunity to grow out of a comfort zone that most educators and administrators were probably familiar with in the days when we were able to do in-person learning. When the public health mandate for distance learning was announced, everyone at TMS rallied and transitioned to virtual learning fairly seamlessly. 

“Now that we’re in a new school year,” he adds, “our virtual academic and social programs are proceeding quite successfully, due to TMS’s wonderful teachers, caring staff and intentionally small classes. These are crucial elements of our small-school dynamic. Our low student-teacher ratio means that even while we are all online, our outstanding faculty can provide more focused instruction and guidance, and the student experience includes more personal, meaningful interactions with peers and teachers.”

Ben Griggs grew up in Half Moon Bay and has been a Bay Area resident for most of his adult life. He earned a B.A. in American Studies from Amherst College and a master’s in psychology from the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley. While pursuing his graduate degree, he studied human development, counseling, teacher consultation and psychoeducational testing as well as academic theory, all vitally important disciplines for his role as TMS’s head of school. 

 “I was drawn to working in education because of the many wonderful teachers who inspired me throughout my educational development — particularly in high school,” he notes. “I would not be the person I am today without those great teachers, and I have deep gratitude for them.”

To learn more about The Marin School, visit themarinschool.org.