Meredith Essalat reflects on her first year as head of school


The Catalyst / Photos courtesy of NDB Communications and Marketing

Head of School Meredith Essalat spent the year getting to know the NDB community.

Meredith Essalat, ‘98, returned to her alma mater as head of school. As a graduate of NDB, a former teacher, a published writer and a mother, Esslat had many goals for the NDB community upon her arrival. As her first year as head of school comes to an end, Essalat reflects on her journey so far and shares what she hopes for the future of NDB.

Essalat approached her first year with a positive attitude and an overall goal to be especially involved in student life. She hoped to spend time in classrooms and interact with students at lunch time and during breaks, all in effort to build community.

“I came into this so excited for the new challenge in the new environment. And I’ve loved it so much,” said Essalat. “I love what I do, because I build relationships with students and with my team, so that is always going to be a goal for me.”

Essalat’s role as head of school this year has also given her the opportunity to grow as an administrator, as she has faced some challenges and learned valuable lessons from them. One of those challenges is her busy schedule, which has interfered with her plans to interact with students and staffulty during lunch and other free periods.

“The problem is my schedule. I loved when I got to come out at lunch at the beginning of the year, but I think the deeper I’ve gotten into the job, the more there’s been to do and so, some things have had to give a bit,” she explained.

In addition, the transition into a completely new environment was an obstacle Essalat had to overcome this year. As an alumna, she may have been familiar with NDB’s physical characteristics, but she had not known the population of students and staffulty well prior to this year.

“I had forgotten what it’s like to be new,” Essalat said. “So I’ve really learned that it’s okay to lean into asking questions and asking for help, like saying that I need to think on something and come back to it versus feeling like in that moment, I have to have the right answer at every turn.”

After a year of growth and new beginnings, Essalat looks forward to the years to come, where she can implement all that she has learned so far.

“I am excited now that I have a year under my belt, to look at the calendar and to find ways to amplify the past and ways to get alumnae back and engaged with our current students,” she said. “I am excited to keep collaborating with [Director of Student Life and Leadership] Ms. Bergholm on other activities that we can do.”

For Essalat, being back in the NDB environment has opened her eyes to the fact that high school is an important time of growth, but progresses quickly. She advises her students to take advantage of all the opportunities on campus so they do not graduate feeling like they have missed out on experiences.

Essalat’s dedication to community building has certainly proven to enhance the quality of student life on campus. Her positive attitude and friendly personality radiates through campus, creating an environment of support for all students and staffulty.

“I am just continuing to build the community and keep everybody having fun and feeling excited to come to school every day.”