February 10, 2021
Dear Lower School Families,
It is with great pleasure and excitement that I announce the appointment of Ms. Linda Fussell as the next Head of Lower School at Gilman. Linda will assume the role on July 1.
Linda will be coming to us most immediately from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where she is the Head of Lower School at Dwight School, Dubai, overseeing a startup International Baccalaureate (IB) program in a Pre-K through Grade 5 division of approximately 200 students within a Pre-K through Grade 12 school. She has enjoyed nearly a decade-long tenure overall at Dwight School; prior to being asked to lead the Lower School in Dubai, Linda worked for seven years at Dwight School, New York, both as a teacher and as the Associate Director of Preschool and Kindergarten.
In addition to her time at Dwight School, Linda has extensive experience in early childhood and elementary education. She served for four years as the Language Arts Coordinator for Kindergarten through Grade 4 at the United Nations International School in New York, where she also taught Grade 1 and Kindergarten. While in New York, Linda also served as an adjunct professor teaching early childhood literacy (birth to Grade 2) at Hunter College, City University of New York. Born in Germany and raised in Panama, with an early teaching career that included international posts in Latin America, Africa, and Europe, she also brings a wealth of global experience to Gilman. Linda earned her Bachelor’s degree, as well as a Master’s in Early Childhood Education, from Florida State University.
Throughout these experiences, Linda has earned the heartfelt admiration and respect of her colleagues, parents, and students. The combination of her knowledge base, work ethic, commitment to the students and teachers, and ability to connect with people has made her a highly effective educator and school leader. Separately, two different colleagues—one former and one current—each referred to Linda as a rarity while singing her praises: “I have not met anyone like her before,” said one, while the other described Linda as “one of those people who does not come along very often.”
This announcement concludes a search that began last spring, paused for the summer, and recommenced last fall. We received around 100 applications and conducted a thorough screening and interviewing process that allowed us to invite a select group for fuller interviews with community members, including faculty and staff, administrators, parents, and students. I also spoke to candidates’ references in order to learn as much as possible about each one. I am grateful to all of the people involved in the search, with a special shout out to the search committee members*. Their investment of time and energy over the course of the last eleven months has proved invaluable, and they have represented the Lower School superbly.
The hiring of Linda also helps to put into place the new leadership structure and lineup, outlined last May, for the Lower and Middle Schools after a year of interim posts. Also starting July 1, Armond Lawson will become the Head of Middle School. Shonique Alexander will begin her new, expanded role on the senior leadership team in which she will be responsible for coordinating the Pre-K through Grade 8 experience at Gilman with a focus on building coherence and continuity between the Lower and Middle Schools, divisions that now span eleven grades. I cannot write this letter without thanking both Armond and Shonique for delaying their moves this year in order to provide stability during the pandemic.
Linda and her husband Mark, who works in international public health, have family in the Maryland area and are excited to make Baltimore home. The Fussells, who include two adult children living in North Carolina and Seattle, will not officially arrive in Baltimore until early July, but we will look for opportunities between now and then to introduce Linda to the Gilman community, as time and distance allow. For now, please join me in congratulating Linda on her appointment and welcoming her, as well as her entire family, to Gilman.