Principal Julia Finney’s Last Year at Miquon

By Kristin Sanderson

20140521_miq_f_14-editDear Miquon Community,

I hope this letter finds you well and perhaps even rested after a wonderful summer with family and friends.  With my son Isaac beginning sixth grade this fall, my family and I are getting ready for another great year at Miquon.

I am writing to announce that Julia Finney has decided that this will be her final year as Principal of The Miquon School.  Julia will complete the 2014-2015 school year as head of the school, following which she will continue to remain involved as a past president of the Board, alumni parent, and dear friend of the school.  Julia has been a remarkable head for what will be nine-and-a-half years, one of the longest tenures of any of Miquon’s principals in its 80-plus year history.

Since I received the news from Julia of her departure, I have reflected on the extraordinary way that she has shaped and nurtured our community and our children for nearly a decade.  Julia began as Principal in January 2006, at a time when our school was confronting several difficult issues.  Not only did Julia rise to the challenge, she quickly emerged as a caring and charismatic principal with an innate ability to handle just about any situation and bring intelligent, thoughtful leadership to the school.

At the outset, Julia worked to improve the school climate through her shared leadership model and open communication, as well as clarity about our program and the value placed on progressive education, our natural environment, and childhood.  She saw we needed to meet more learning needs and built a learning support system for children accordingly.  She set the tone for increased professional growth and collegiality among staff, and engendered more academic staff-wide discussions about our program, inspiring increased accountability therein.  She also oversaw the retirements of several iconic teachers, holding Miquon’s values and commitment to progressive education at the forefront in recruiting and hiring their outstanding replacements.

On the fiscal side, Julia worked tirelessly to improve the financial health of the school.  She teamed with the Board to develop a contingency fund and physical plant replacement fund, complete the $2.4 million capital campaign that renovated most of the classroom buildings, oversee the acquisition of the Maguire House, and raise funds for the creek restoration.  While other small schools in the area faltered and even closed, Julia increased both our enrollment and our fundraising.  Through all of these efforts, she not only brought Miquon through the recession, she maintained confidence among those in our community and ensured fiscal stability for years to come.

I am personally grateful to Julia for all of her hard work and accomplishments.  Thanks to her effort, and the tireless effort of Miquon’s staff, board, parents, alumni, donors, community, and not least our children, the Miquon School stands on extremely solid ground.  Change is always difficult, and we will truly miss Julia as our principal, but at the same time she leaves the school in a very strong position, both institutionally and as a leader in progressive education locally and nationally.

The Board of Directors will convene a committee to oversee a national search for our next principal, with the goal of having a new head in place next summer.  The committee will include members of the board, staff, parents, and alumni.  We will provide opportunity and seek input from all members of the Miquon community.  Should you have thoughts you want to share during our search process, feel free to contact me at

I know that together, we will seek a new principal that shares our passion for progressive education and embraces the values of childhood.  And together, we will continue to advance our wonderful opportunities for growth, both for Miquon and that which Miquon provides to our children and the community.


Greg Mandel ’81 President, The Miquon School Board of Directors