Ken came to Avon in 1981, after meeting then-Headmaster George Trautman at an NAIS conference. He was hired as a math teacher, coach, and dorm head, with a promise of consideration for an administrative position. Over the years, he has taught regular and honor sections of mathematics; coached football, basketball, and lacrosse at various levels; was dean of students and director of college counseling; and was provost (assistant headmaster) for five years prior to being named head in 1998. He and his wife, Heidi, were married in 1990 and raised three children in a blended family: son Nicholas ’01; daughter Lexie, who graduated from the Ethel Walker School in 2001; and son Benjamin ’10. To this day, Ken’s early experiences continue to resonate in his educational approach. “I was always a scholarship student, so I take a look at those boys, and I understand them, and I relate to them, and I think I connect with them very well,” he comments. “And while some people think my expectations for them are too high, I certainly don’t, because I’ve been there. I just want to make sure they take advantage of the opportunities that we have here. And it really is fulfilling when you see them make it.”
There are a few people I respect as much as Ken, but there is no one I know personally that I respect more. He is a role model for boys, young men and society. I’ve known Ken as a parent, board member, and friend. As I was thinking about how he fills all those roles with such presence, it made me ponder how many other hats Ken wears? And how many other people he interacts with—on so many levels—who walk away in awe of how he handled the situation. Whatever hats Ken wears in the next chapter of his life—and I’m sure there will be many—I know he will don them with distinction. He’s that kind of guy. “Thank you, Ken, for all you have given to Avon Old Farms School. Your legacy is everlasting. Fortunately, you can’t retire from being my friend! I hope that friendship continues for many years to come.” Kitty Ordway P'04, Board of Directors
Ken, Heidi, and their son Ben take on the Snake River in Wyoming with Kitty Ordway and her husband, Jim Sadler.
his very first Letter from the Headmaster, in the fall 1998 issue of the Avonian, Ken acknowledged the enormity of his charge with reverence, respect, and the promise of forward progress: “In the future, we certainly need to continue to integrate technology into all aspects of life here. Surely, we also need to continue to take advantage of the exciting new research being done in the field of boys’ education and male learning styles. And yes, we need to complete a strategic planning process, which will help us identify facility and program needs as we head into the 21st century. Then we need to find a way to fund our needs. “But most of all, we need to continue to be a place where our students can prepare themselves to become responsible citizens and leaders of society. We must be a place concerned with building character, helping students build an ethical framework to guide them through the moral maze life will present. If we fail to teach our students the important lessons of life, we fail them utterly. It doesn’t matter what college they go to or how much money they make. Without the proper values, they will fail as people. “At Avon, our job is to connect our students with each other, with positive adult role models, and with a community built on values and mutual respect. We need to nourish our students’ souls, and that can happen only by helping them become part of a nurturing, connected culture. … Together with the faculty and staff here, I promise to continue to care about and to cultivate the moral and ethical development of our students above all else.” In the last two decades as headmaster—and, indeed, in his close to 40 years at AOF—Ken has made good on that promise. He’s helped transform the campus with exceptional new facilities to the meet the needs of today’s students; spearheaded a $60 million capital campaign that brought in $72 million; bolstered the academic, arts, and residential life programs so that our students receive not only an academically superior experience but also a character-driven education; and worked to further the winning tradition of athletics that has long been synonymous with Avon Old Farms School. The Avonian Spring 2018