Celebrating Country Day's Seventh Head of School, Mariandl Hufford

The next chapter in Miami Country Day’s 81 year history officially began this week with the installation of Mariandl Hufford as our Seventh Head of School. The celebration began on Friday, September 6 in the Center of the Arts with more than 300 Country Day community members in attendance.
Master of Ceremonies and alumnus, Alex Dombrowsky ’92 opened the ceremony and welcomed those in attendance. Trustee and alumnus, James Moore ’65 began with the singing of our Alma Mater. Mr. Moore had rekindled this tradition when he sang it alongside the Lower School Chorus during an assembly last year. Board of Trustees President, Chris Bellows shared his excitement on Mariandl’s candidacy and discussed the process of her selection and the hiring committee’s unanimous decision of her appointment. We also heard from the The Head of School at The Agnes Irwin School, Dr. Wendy Hill who previously worked with Mariandl. Dr. Hill is a scientist by training and approached her remarks using the scientific method. In her hypothesis she stated, “Mariandl is going to make an outstanding Head of the Miami Country Day School.” She gave examples of her character and Mariandl’s ability to understand the topics affecting students at this moment including artificial intelligence, geo-political issues, and concerns about their social-emotional well-being, and address them accordingly. Finally, in her address to the community, Mariandl confirmed, “While this ceremony is an official signal of my becoming a part of this history, it also serves as an opportunity to honor those who have come before, as well as anticipate a future we will build together.” Mariandl closed, holding true to one of her themes this year, with sharing a story:

“If you have been in my office, you may have noticed an oil painting of a sail boat navigating a rough and stormy sea. That painting has been around all of my life and hung in my father’s office for most of his career. It is not a painting that necessarily inspires me with its beauty, but it is one that reminds me to remain humble, as that little boat on a vast and stormy sea, as well as singularly determined to forge ahead and reach my destination.

When my father was a young man starting out in business, he built what ended up, at the time, being one of the largest multi-story buildings in my birth country of Suriname. He mortgaged the building to a staggering and frightening extent. When at the mortgage broker’s office, after having signed the paperwork that was the formal manifestation of this wager he had placed on his drive to grow his business as he imagined he should, he looked up at a painting that hung above the broker’s desk- the very painting that now hangs in my office. My dad sat back in his chair, and he said: “that is how I feel like now, all alone on a stormy sea.” The broker smiled, turned around, reached up on the wall and took down the painting. He handed it to my dad and said – “let this serve as a reminder of this moment.” My father, as I mentioned, always had this painting in his office. I remember it from the days I was a little girl and he was a busy, busy business man whose office, in my mind, was as glamorous as any Fortune 500 CEO’s. Even later in life, after retirement, in the study in our house, there was this painting, serving as a reminder of the risk he took to build a business that provided for us and sustained our family for decades.

My father saw himself as navigating the turbulent waters of business by himself – that is the man he was. Self-made, scarred by experience, it never occurred to him it would be anything different. I love this story, because it is so like him. And I loved and admired my father for many reasons.

But I see this painting so differently. Whenever I meet with anyone in my office, the painting is in my field of vision. I often focus on it, even for a moment, and smile inwardly. Because here is where my father was wrong. The sea may be stormy, the waters turbulent. But I am not alone. No captain ever sailed a stormy sea without a dedicated crew. There is a steady, sea-worthy crew on board with me. Together, we navigate the tides, and point our bow toward the destination to which we have set off together.

You are all on this ship with me. Whatever your role, beloved family member, trusted friend, supportive mentor, engaged alum, parent, trustee, administrator, teacher, or staff, you serve as a member of this crew. Together, we are the crew that is Miami Country Day. And together, we will soar into our future.”

The celebration continued this week with ceremonies during the Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School assemblies. In Lower School, Mariandl referenced a familiar book to the students, Whose Story Is This, Anyway?, and shared how stories are that much better when you share them with friends. She was also serenaded by the Lower School Chorus with an acoustic version of the Country Day Alma Mater and a traditional Lower School Sing-A-Long that “made it rain” inside the CFA. Meanwhile, during the Middle School ceremony, Mariandl shared a top 10 list of things you should know about her. The first item said, “I wasn’t born in the U.S.” She then asked students how many of them or their parents were not born in the U.S. and a vast majority of the students raised their hands. Finally, during the Upper School assembly, Mariandl conveyed to students, “I am all about relationships, plain and simple. The ones I forge with you, your teachers, and your parents. I believe that if we build strong relationships, we can leverage them to create the future we all deserve.”

Please click here to see highlights from this past week of celebration and here to learn more about Ms. Mariandl Hufford.
Miami Country Day School is a college preparatory learning community committed to educating the whole child. Through the core values of honor, respect, wisdom and compassion, we prepare students to be lifelong learners. We inspire our children to develop their intellectual, physical, aesthetic, social, emotional and spiritual potentials by valuing every student every day.
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