Welcome From Head of School

Thoughts from Peter Becker

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Welcome to The Frederick Gunn School!

First, if you haven’t already visited our campus, I encourage you to schedule a visit if you can. It’s impossible to understand what makes us unique without walking our distinct campus, meeting our students and faculty, and getting to know FGS in person. Second, if you are just starting the process of looking at schools, or are close to making a decision, there are some things you should consider. You will spend anywhere from one to four years living, working, and playing at the school you choose. Your school will be your home away from home and many of your friendships will last a lifetime. The most important thing to consider is the people with whom you will spend those years – the faculty and your fellow students – and the overall feel of campus life. The best metric of a school's success is the people it attracts, the opportunities it affords them, and what students do with those opportunities. As you visit schools, I encourage you to "go with your gut” – is this a place you can imagine yourself thriving? 

FGS offers many things only possible in a school of 300 students: the chance to know and be known by every fellow student; the individualized care for students only possible when every faculty member knows every student by name; multiple early opportunities for leadership and discovery. If you enjoy being known well by your friends and your teachers, if you enjoy developing friendships with peers from around the country and the world, and if you enjoy learning, playing, and creating in an environment in which it is safe to try, fail, and try again, then you'll love our school. We believe that real learning happens best when put into action, whether the topic is physics, the violin, a zone defense, or leadership – and when students take real, incremental risks. At FGS, you will have more opportunities than at larger schools to put theory into practice – to experience the rewarding thrill of learning from risk – and, as a result, will learn exponentially.

At FGS, you will have more opportunities than at larger schools to put theory into practice – to experience the rewarding thrill of learning from risk – and, as a result, will learn exponentially.

 

Think about it this way: There are in essence three buckets in our lives. The first is filled with all the things you already know you are good at; the things that you know you like to do and feel confident in, whether that’s a science class, a language, an instrument, a sport – or maybe all sports. Then there’s a second bucket, filled with things that are less familiar, or that perhaps you’ve never even tried. Maybe you’ve never tried acting, or never really tried to like math. The third bucket is for those things you know you don’t like. Maybe it’s something you’ve written off, as in: “I’m never doing that.” The point is, when it comes to choosing a school, if you make your decision based only on the things in the first bucket, you might realize in a year, or two years, or 10, that you’ve limited yourself in ways you can’t yet imagine. Our competitive advantage is that we’ve created an environment in which you as a high school student can develop the confidence to take risks both in the areas you already love and excel, and, most importantly, in trying the things that are less familiar or you never would have considered before. 

What our founder, Frederick Gunn, cared about, and what we continue to emphasize today through our programs, people and place, is you developing your character such that you are ready to put it to work in the world as an active citizen. It’s not just doing the right thing, but getting comfortable challenging yourself, and being challenged, secure in the knowledge that the teachers and friends around you believe in you.

So when you choose your bucket – and choose your school – think about how you can become that person you can’t even imagine yet; a person who can go out into the world with an appropriate kind and level of confidence and be someone who literally makes the world a better place by engaging with it and serving other people. That’s what our founder did and that’s the definition of a FGS graduate. If you’re up for the challenge, we hope you see yourself here.

Sincerely,
Peter Becker
Head of School

What our founder, Frederick Gunn, cared about, and what we continue to emphasize today through our programs, people and place, is you developing your character such that you are ready to put it to work in the world as an active citizen.

Peter Becker's Bio

Peter W.E. Becker became The Frederick Gunn School’s 11th head of school in 2012. A native of New Orleans and Manhattan, Peter attended The Taft School (Watertown, Connecticut) and then earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction in religious studies from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in history from Yale University.

Peter came to FGS from The Lawrenceville School, in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where he served as a master of history and interdisciplinary studies, housemaster, department chair, and coach. He led the redesign of the Interdisciplinary Program’s curriculum, seeking different ways to instruct, encourage and inspire students to learn and communicate. Peter was also the director of the Humanities Program, coached squash and tennis and held Lawrenceville’s Shutt Faculty chair for four years. Prior to his eight year tenure at The Lawrenceville School, he had a career as an investment banking and venture capital analyst.

Peter is a board member of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, the Parents League of New York, and Washington Montessori School. He is also a member of The Headmasters Association and the Executive Committee for the North American Boarding School Initiative started by The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), a committee of national school leaders charged with developing the association’s advocacy for the enduring value of boarding school education. Peter is actively engaged in the study and development of character education and has presented frequently on its importance in the moral formation of students, their long-term success and engagement in civic life.
 
Peter and his wife, Amy Julia, an accomplished author and speaker, are the proud parents of three children, Penny, William, and Marilee.