Announcing Our New Head of School

The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that Dr. Armistead Gordon Webster, currently the Lower School Head at Gilman School in Baltimore, MD, has accepted the invitation of the Board of Trustees to be the next Head of The Swain School, effective July 1, 2020.

This appointment is the result of a thoughtful process that began in early November when the Search Committee launched a national and international search to recruit the strongest and best matched candidates to our school. From an initial pool of 60 individuals expressing interest in the position, the Search Committee narrowed the pool over time to seven candidates who were invited to confidential, off-site interviews in late January.

Armistead Webster spent the early years of his teaching career in three elementary schools in Bronx, NY and Denver, CO before entering administrative practice. After holding two principalships, he moved into private school education and became Lower School Principal at the Norwood School (PK-8) in MD. Armistead remained there for eleven years before becoming Head of School at Renbrook School (3-year-olds – Grade 9) in CT where he tackled enrollment, marketing, and financial challenges. He left Renbrook four years later for family reasons and subsequently became Lower School Head (PK-Gr 5) at Gilman School (PK-12) in Baltimore. He holds degrees from Princeton (BA in Religion), New York University (MA in Deafness Education), and the University of Colorado (Ph.D. in Educational Administration, Supervision and Curriculum).

Armistead is looking to lead a school once again because he has missed the opportunity to "look over the horizon and work with a Board of Trustees on the longevity of the school.” He also likes solving big picture problems and representing a school in the community. A self-proclaimed storyteller, Armistead loves to gather current perspectives on the school by spending time each day observing and listening to students and teachers. He said in his statement of educational philosophy, “I am continuously renewed in the presence of children as they bring wonder and delight to each moment of the day. Schools with young children provide an opportunity to experience learning in its purest form.” Armistead loves what he has learned about Swain and feels strongly that Swain and Allentown are where he could find real synergy.

Armistead has served on numerous boards, including the CT Association of Independent Schools, the Westminster School (CT), and Princeton University. For seven years he was an instructor with the Black Student Fund (DC) and for three years was on the Leadership Team at the New Principals Academy in Denver. Armistead is married to Suzanne Barnard who works for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Together they have two grown children who live in MA and NY. Armistead enjoys reading, crosswords, hiking, yoga, improv, and soccer in his spare time.

A Message to the Swain Community,

from our incoming Head of School, Dr. Armistead Webster


Please view the March update below to read more about Dr. Armistead Gordon Webster and his thoughts on his new role within the Swain Community.