Meet Dorothy Hutcheson

Hero Image

Head of Lower School Dorothy Hutcheson joined the Pace Academy community in 2021 and brings more than four decades of experience in education to her role. She has worn many hats throughout her career—from classroom teacher, college counselor and dean of students to consultant, executive coach and head of school. 

Most recently, Hutcheson served as interim director of the Village School (kindergarten through sixth grade) at Chadwick School in Palos Verdes, Calif. From 1992 to 2012, she was head of the Nightingale-Bamford School, an independent, K-12, girls’ school. Her resume also includes time at The Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn and at Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh. Hutcheson has served on the boards of six independent schools, the National Association of Independent Schools and the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Education at Teachers College, among others; her list of professional honors and affiliations is long. 

Hutcheson’s arrival at Pace represents a personal homecoming; she is an Atlanta native and a Westminster alumna. She graduated magna cum laude from Duke University and earned a master’s in school counseling from Duquesne University. Hutcheson also participated in Columbia University’s Klingenstein Visiting Heads Program and holds a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary. 

“Needless to say, we are thrilled to have such a seasoned and spirited educator join our ranks,” says Head of School Fred Assaf. “Dorothy understands deeply our school’s mission to create prepared, confident citizens of the world, as well as our ongoing efforts to ensure that Pace is a welcoming and inclusive place for all members of our community. Under Dorothy’s guidance, and with our leadership team’s passion and expertise, our Lower School students, faculty, staff and parents are in good hands.”

Hutcheson is equally excited to join the Pace community. “My heart is in school, and I am incredibly lucky to have found Pace,” she says. “I see myself not just a caretaker but as a builder of the community so that students, teachers and parents support one another. I like to have fun and can’t believe I found a calling that makes a difference to others and energizes me every day.”

Hutcheson and her husband, Sam, whom she met while teaching at Shady Side Academy, have been married for 38 years and have a daughter, Holly, who teaches middle school science at Rye Country Day School in New York.  

In high school, I used to drive by the Castle and wonder what was going on inside. Now, I am blown away by the Pace campus and the spaces for student learning and discovery, and I can’t wait to watch students and teachers using the new Kam Memar Lower School. Pace is on the move and doesn’t rest on its laurels."

Her philosphy

Hutcheson believes that school communities are at once complex and fragile institutions. “The tone is set from the top,” she says, “and students learn best when they are well known and valued by the head of school (thank you, Fred!), their teachers and administrators, and their peers. Being known contributes to a community with a strong moral compass, as each individual learns to be responsible for others. Younger students, particularly, need to know that their lives are meaningful and have purpose, and this is largely accomplished within a school environment where older students are dedicated to orienting new students and where all are engaged in service to the wider world.”

Hutcheson also believes that every member of the school community should be committed to the success of every student. “What is often tricky, however, is that students are not always the best judges of what they need at a particular moment. Clear and fair rules are important, as is a learning environment where student voices are cherished. And, of course, joy must pervade all! Why bother learning in a place where students are over-stressed and unable to see the joy— and the wonder—in each day? And why bother working in a place where everyone doesn’t love kids?”

HER favorite things

  • Spending time with her wonderful mother
  • Eating good food. ”It’s great to enjoy real grits again,” she says.
  • Watching murder mysteries and high-action dramas 
  • Reading contemporary novels, particularly those that take place in schools; and she’s always looking for a children’s book that “doesn’t portray the principal as an out-of-touch dimwit or a monster.”
  • Encouraging teachers, especially women, to think about administrative careers
  • Watching college basketball, texting “fellow Dukies” during games and staying up to date with the Bleacher Report
  • Walking in the early morning—she’s still trying to find a good route where she’s not terrorized by Atlanta drivers. 
  • Ballet, theatre and museums 

HER EXPERIENCE

EDUCATION

  • Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, M.Div.
  • Klingenstein Visiting Heads Program, Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Duquesne University, M.S.Ed. in school counseling
  • Duke University, A.B., magna cum laude in religion and English
  • Westminster Schools, Distinguished Alumni Award recipient

LEADERSHIP & TEACHING

  • THE VILLAGE SCHOOL (K-6), CHADWICK SCHOOL, Palos Verdes, CA, 2018-2020
    Interim Director
  • THE EDUCATION GROUP, 2017-present 
    Executive Coach and Consultant 
  • TRINITY-PAWLING SCHOOL, Pawling, NY, 2015-2016
    Interim Chaplain
  • NEW YORK STATE OF INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS (NYSAIS), 2013-2016 
    Consultant 
  • THE NIGHTINGALE-BAMFORD SCHOOL, New York, NY, 1992-2012 
    Head of School, Head of School Emerita
  • THE PACKER COLLEGIATE INSTITUTE, Brooklyn, NY, 1987-1992
    Assistant Head of School, Interim Head of School, College Counselor, Dean of Students
  • SHADY SIDE ACADEMY, Pittsburgh, PA, 1980-1987
    College Counselor, English Teacher and Housemaster

EDUCATIONAL BOARDS

  • Board service in independent schools: Elected honorary trustee of George Jackson Academy (NY) after 15 years as trustee; completed board tenure at St. Paul’s School (NH), the Cathedral School of St. John the Divine, Grace Church School, St. David’s School and The Brick Church School
     
  • Former trustee of the National Association of Independent Schools (chair of governance committee), the Advisory Committee of the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Education at Teachers College and the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools; former vice president of the board of Early Steps, which promotes racial diversity in New York City independent schools; recipient of Early Steps Award
     
  • Recently served on the visiting committee for Francis Parker School (CA); former member of the NYSAIS Commission on Accreditation and chaired visiting committees for several K-12 independent schools
     
  • Past president of the Country Day School Headmasters Association, the Head Mistresses Association of the East and NYSAIS; member of the Headmasters Association
     
  • Former faculty member of the Women’s Leadership Seminar of the Heads Network