Kenny Graves New Director of Upper School

It is our pleasure to announce the appointment of Kenneth (Kenny) Graves, PhD, as Director of Upper School, effective July 14, 2023. 

Kenny holds a BA from University of Richmond, an MA in Instructional Technology and Media from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a MPhil and PhD in Education Leadership from Columbia University. In 2020, Kenny’s dissertation, Disrupting the Digital Norm in the New Digital Divide, won the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Advanced Studies of National Databases Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association.

Kenny comes to Trevor from Ethical Culture Fieldston School—a community of which he was a part for nine years. He most recently served as the Director of Studies (where he supervised department chairs, managed student course selection and course of studies revisions, and coordinated the schedule, among other responsibilities) and the Assistant Principal for Academic Life (where he oversaw day-to-day operations for the Upper School, including academic policy and procedures, academic budgets, the divisional master calendar, and the implementation of the student support team). He also taught Ethics elective courses and was a form advisor—roles he maintained over his entire tenure at ECFS. Prior to those roles, Kenny was ECFS’ Ethics and Technology Coordinator. 

Before his work at ECFS, Kenny served as the Lead Professional Development Specialist at The Center for Technology and School Change at Teachers College, Columbia University, and prior to that, as an Upper School English Teacher at Hermitage High School in Richmond, Virginia. Since 2019, Kenny has also worked as an adjunct instructor at both The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the Lynch School of Education at Boston College—teaching graduate courses to school leaders in research methods and data-informed leadership. 

During his nine years at ECFS, Kenny had myriad experiences and accomplishments, including restructuring the on-boarding process for first-year faculty and staff; collaborating with the performing arts chair to implement a new structure to bolster engagement and enrollment in the department; leading professional development on equity-based grading and assessment; working alongside Middle School administrators on the development of a transition program for 8th grade; improving the senior projects program to include clearer objectives and outcomes; developing a year-long parent education program on technology ethics; serving as a co-facilitator for the annual Experienced Teachers Institute conference for NYSAIS; and being chosen as one of the keynote speakers for the 2022 NYSAIS Divisions Heads/Assistant Heads Conference, where he presented on the topic of data-informed leadership anchored in principles of equity and inclusion.

Kenny feels strongly that his pedagogy and leadership must be infused not only with data, but also with love. Inspired by author and critical theorist, bell hooks, Kenny’s writes in his own words about centering love in his leadership, saying, “I believe that ensuring love is in my leadership means that I continue to demonstrate a contagious love for learning so that the families, students, and adults I work with catch it, too. Centering love in leadership means hearing and considering the perspectives of your colleagues, families, and the students you serve before making a decision. Leadership anchored in love is organized, collaborative, and consistent. It is also evidence-based and empathy-laden…Leading with love means demonstrating vulnerability and admitting when you have made a mistake or have not followed through on a promise, but also holding others accountable to this same expectation...Leading with love also requires an understanding that discipline is more than just punitive consequences. It recognizes that discipline without education is simply punishment…Centering leadership in love means always considering the needs of young people first.”

Thanks to so many in our community for your participation in this successful search. Your feedback about the finalists was integral to the process, and signaled a strong consensus among faculty, staff, parents, and students that Kenny is an exceptional choice to lead the Upper School into the future. Special thanks to those who served on the search committee, all of whom brought thoughtful perspectives and keen insights to the process.

So many of us recognized in Kenny an alignment with Trevor’s mission and our promise of ambitious academics, engaged students, and balanced lives. Time and time again, the community noted his passion, thoughtfulness, respect for teachers, and most importantly, his focus on students. Moreover, he has a deep knowledge of what is required of an ambitious, efficacious, and equitable 21st-century curriculum, and how to best support its expert facilitators. 

Please join us in welcoming Kenny in the days and weeks ahead.