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A Message from Board of Trustees Chair Megan Lum Mehalko '83

Dear Laurel Friends,

With profound gratitude for her leadership, the Board of Trustees has accepted Ann V. Klotz’s decision to retire at the end of the 2024-25 academic year. Laurel’s mission to inspire each girl to fulfill her promise and to better the world was articulated by Ann and affirmed by the Board early in her headship. That mission has been Ann’s guiding light throughout her time at Laurel.

In 2004, when Ann came to Laurel with her young family, the Board of Trustees charged her with developing a curricular vision for what was then called the Fairmount Campus. The transformation of the now 150-acre Butler Campus into an experiential learning environment unlike any other in Northeast Ohio, while fully respecting our role as stewards of the land, is remarkable. Thanks to the generosity of donors who believed in Laurel and in Ann’s vision and leadership, Butler is home to amazing spaces that support a robust Outdoor Prekindergarten, Grades 3-5 and the Environmental Justice Semester, as well as many Laurel athletes. And there is more to come with the Ruhlman Family Center under construction very soon!
During Ann’s tenure, renovations at the Lyman Campus included adding an elevator to increase accessibility and renovations or enhancements to the second and third floors, our Dining Room, Early Childhood classrooms, the Tippit Gymnasium and the locker rooms. The next phase of our Capital Campaign will address renovating the North Wing, which houses Grades 6-8, and Ann is committed to fundraising for this next phase during her remaining time at Laurel.

While physical enhancements are critical to an institution, especially one in its 127th year, the successful future of any school also depends on a vibrant and relevant academic program. In 2007, Ann co-founded Laurel’s Center for Research on Girls (LCRG) and not only are the tenets of LCRG—resilience, self-care, purpose and ownership of learning—the pillars of our program, but schools around the country look to Laurel as the experts in how girls learn best. Stemming from Ann’s leadership, Laurel’s current strategic plan, Beyond the Circle: Empowering Girls, Changing the World, speaks to the fundamental character of Laurel and where its focus lies.

An innovator who believes passionately in the public purpose of private education, Ann established the NorthStar Collaborative, a partnership with Warner Girls Leadership Academy in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and just this fall, thanks to a matching grant from the E.E. Ford Foundation, launched our Environmental Justice Semester for girls in Grades 10 and 11—from Laurel and beyond.
At heart, Ann is an educator who knows every child by name and who centers every decision around what is best for the girls. An advisor, drama and English teacher, her commitment to the social and emotional wellbeing of the girls and young women (not to mention the small boys!) who found their voices at Laurel during her tenure will ultimately be her greatest legacy. For many of those girls, a Laurel education would not have been possible were it not for Ann’s decision to institute tuition assistance as early as the primary years—Laurel was the first CCIS (Cleveland Council of Independent Schools) school to offer financial aid to students before the traditional Seventh Grade entry point, a prime example of her commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

In the coming months, the Board of Trustees’ most important work will be to find a worthy successor to Ann—a new head who will embrace and continue Laurel’s mission. Board Vice Chair Carey Jaros ’96 and Board Secretary Susan Shons Luria ’85 are leading a search committee who, with the assistance of Nat Conard and Pilar Cabeza de Vaca of Educators Collaborative, will identify exceptional candidates with vision, intellect and a commitment to girls’ education, candidates with the capacity to build on Laurel School’s long held national reputation. Carey and Susan will share more information on the search process with the community next week.

Change often brings trepidation. But, change also brings opportunity. With Ann’s continued support of Laurel, we will be focused on the opportunity ahead. Between now and June 2025, I know that Laurel remains in her extraordinary care.

With Gator gratitude,

Signature: Ann V. Klotz
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