There’s a change at MICDS that occurs infrequently. Just a handful of different principals have been at the helm over the past 25 years.
Scott Small, teacher and coach with 12 years experience on the North Warson Road campus was named principal of the upper school. He replaces Louise Morgan, who retired after a 25-year teaching career last spring.
Small, the girls varsity basketball coach and U.S. history teacher is elated, cautious, optimistic and primed for the position. Meetings with his staff have already begun.
“This is not principal in the traditional sense. I have made a commitment to be involved with our students every day,” he said.
At least for this year, he will not teach classes. “We have deans for each grade level of upper school for the 608 enrolled students,” Small said. Normally, MICDS’ principals spend some time teaching.
However, Small will continue on as girls basketball coach this winter in a dual capacity. “I have great assistants (Erica Moore and Bill Goedeker) and either could run the team. We have an exit strategy should this not work out,” Small said.
Getting to the principal’s office was no simple task. The search committee put the 36-year-old father of two through the wringer, so to speak.
The school conducted a national search. The interview process was grueling and the vetting was thorough. Over several days, Small met with every constituent group students, faculty, staff and alumni. "Faculty members asked me some tough questions,” he said.
Small attended middle school at John Burroughs and graduated Principia High School in 1993. His dad, Todd, recently retired as Burroughs football coach, had coached football at Priory, Principia and Principia College in Elsah, IL.
Small did his graduate work in Southern history at the University of Mississippi. “I did my graduate thesis on he effects of recruiting on the teams in the Southeast Conference,” he said.
MICDS’ Head of School at the time, Matt Gossage, previously played football at Vanderbilt. Scott’s dad Todd was good friends with Steve Sloan, then Vanderbilt's football coach. Sloan told Gossage about this bright young graduate student, and Scott’s teaching career was launched at MICDS in 1999.
“I love this school. It's a great place to teach. Our mission statement states we always do what’s best for our students while improving the school as an academic institution. We have a long-standing history and tradition with a meaningful goal of innovation," Small said.
Small is just as proud of the art and music departments as he is of athletics. “Did you know, Harry Weber (famed sculptor) started his art career here?” he asked.
MICDS for the Smalls is a family affair. The family moved from Ballwin to Creve Coeur recently to be closer to the campus. His daughters Alden and Addie, in second grade and prekindergarten, respectively, ride to school with Dad each day. His wife Amy is a stay-at-home mom.
“We have 80 teachers at the upper school, and we give them a lot of autonomy in the classroom. This is mainly not a place for teachers in the ‘twilight’ of their careers.” Rather, MICDS faculty members are involved heavily with their students before, during and late after the regular school day.
“I had so much knowledge of the school, I just thought it was appropriate to apply for the position,” Small said. Decision makers at the 152-year-old institution obviously agreed.