Marlborough’s ninth head of school, Dr. Priscilla G. Sands, arrived at the school in July 2015. Now that she has been in her new job for more than a year, the Larchmont Chronicle visited with her during the first week of this school year.
Her arrival at Marlborough was within days of the demolition of five Arden Blvd. houses that marked the commencement of the Arden Project. [See accompanying story.] A bit more than one year later, Dr. Sands watched as her students cut a ribbon marking the completion of the project.
Asked about some of her goals at Marlborough, Dr. Sands responded that she feels a big part of the school’s mission is to give the students “the confidence to create the community they deserve.” Asked about high points of her first year at Marlborough, Dr. Sands noted that this is her 21st year as a head of school, and also her 15th year as the head of a girls’ school. So, she says, there really have not been many surprises, although she has been particularly pleased with the exceptionally warm welcome given to her by the girls and their families here.
Prior to Marlborough, Dr. Sands spent her education career in Philadelphia, where she most recently was president of the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and previously headed Springside School and served as assistant head of school at the Agnes Irwin School. She holds a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.
Marlborough, the oldest independent girls’ school in Southern California, is a day school with 530 students in grades 7 through 12. Dr. Sands oversees a faculty of 58 full-time and 17 part-time teachers, 89 percent of whom have advanced degrees, with one-third of them having Ph.D. degrees.
Dr. Sands’ Marlborough office is behind a wide glass wall and door overlooking an exterior corridor and Booth Field. She says that girls know they are welcome to knock and come in if she is not meeting with others. Dr. Sands is an active practitioner of openness and communication.
No Phone Zone
The interview naturally turned to the new open space and athletic facilities just dedicated. Dr. Sands spoke of the new “contemplative garden” located beyond the south end of Booth Field. She recounted how there has been a wide acceptance by the students of one significant feature of the new space. This area has been designated a “no phone zone.”
Conversation and book reading and things like that are welcome. But the use of electronic devices of any kind is prohibited. Dr. Sands says the rule has been well accepted by the girls and that the new space is well used.
Asked about expected challenges at her new school, Dr. Sands responded that the situation at Marlborough is much the same as she faced in the East. She finds that what is important is always to be thinking about education and the students’ futures. She noted that, this year, there are 23 girls in an advanced placement statistics course. She also talked about an entrepreneurship course that is very popular, as are the many arts programs.
Asked about her goals for the coming months, Dr. Sands said that a primary concern of hers is the health of her students — physical and mental. She wants their lives to be safe, healthy and well balanced. To that end, the new athletic facilities and the fitness and wellness center are big contributors. Dr. Sands says that all schools should devote attention to areas such as mindfulness and mental health because they are essential parts of what is education today.