The moment Dr. Noni Thomas López was hired by THE GORDON SCHOOL, she made history: Dr. Thomas López is the first person of color to serve as the independent school’s Head of School. This is landmark, but it’s only the latest in a groundbreaking career in education. She earned her MA from Columbia University, where she was awarded a Joseph Klingenstein fellowship to study independent school leadership, and she later earned her EdD from the University of Pennsylvania.
“I benefited immensely from mentorship early in my career,” says Dr. Thomas López, “and I am proud that aspiring leaders, particularly women and people of color, seek me out for guidance and mentorship. I believe my purpose is to create spaces where others can discover and enact their purpose.”
She believes strongly in the Gordon School mission, which stresses justice, everyday activism, and service to others. She was also attracted to Gordon’s child-centered developmental approach, because students can enroll as toddlers and remain through eighth grade, encompassing their most formative years.
“Perhaps the best example is our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” she says. “Gordon started that work long before many independent schools realized its importance. I’ve been working in educational leadership for over two decades. Since my early days as an educator, Gordon has loomed large in my imagination for being a school on the cutting edge. I’m really excited for this new chapter in my career.”
Dr. Thomas López most recently lived in the Bronx, where she served as Assistant Head of School at Ethical Culture Fieldston School. She personally oversaw curriculum and instruction for a school of 1,750 students and 325 faculty and staff. Given this high level of discipline and community engagement, colleagues are often surprised by her demeanor.
“On a team of nine, I’m the only introvert, so they all know that I need solo time to recharge. But I think people who know me would say that I am authentic, that I put relationships first, and that I like to have fun.”
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