The head of the elite St. Paul’s School in Concord is resigning.
Michael Hirschfeld has been part of the prestigious prep school’s faculty since 1994, and has led the institution for the past seven years. Like many administrators, he is also an alumni, and he sent both his children to St Paul’s.
Hirschfeld made the announcement at the school’s Chapel assembly Thursday and in a letter to the greater St Paul’s community. He didn’t explain why he was leaving the school, just that “the time is right for new leadership.”
The 2018 -2019 school year will be his last.
"A recurring lesson I have learned in my time at the School is that no one person is irreplaceable, including the Rector. The 'love and labor' of many will not only prevail, but will be the source of the School’s continued growth,” Hirschfeld wrote, referring to a popular school saying.
His term at the helm of the prestigious school was not without controversy. St. Paul’s has been in the headlines for the past few years as it grapples with decades of sexual misconduct and harassment by teachers and the fallout from a high profile rape case.
Board President Archibald Cox, Jr. called these moments "very, very trying times" for the institution, adding that he felt the media coverage about the Owen LaBrie case was often unfair to St. Paul's.
"It's not easy when you're leading an institution like that and you think this institution is being pilloried for the wrong reasons, it's tough, very tough," Cox said. "And yet, [Hirschfeld] stood up to it. I think he's never wavered in his leading of the school at all, despite all the distractions that events like this cause."
Cox said Hirschfeld had "done wonders" for the school in terms of curriculum and unifying the larger St. Paul's community. He said admission numbers have remained steady, and last year was one of their best years for graduates attending prestigious colleges. He credited both to Hirschfeld's leadership.
"I can assure you the board would have happily extended [Hirschfeld's] contract further had he not decided that it was time for him to do something different," Cox said.
In his letter to the St Paul's community, Hirschfeld wrote, “The School is absolutely on the right trajectory in all things that relate to educating and caring for young people.”
Cox said trustees will begin searching for a new rector in the weeks ahead, a process he said that could last a full year.