Interview With New US Assistant Director Sarah Warren

Q&A with new Assistant Director Sarah Warren, who replaced Paul Menge following his recent retirement


Sarah Warren is the new Assistant Director, after being an academic dean and department chair at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts. She previously taught subjects ranging from Ethics and Philosophy to Islamic Studies. Warren received her own education from William Jewell College, where she got her BA in History of Ideas and Religion, as well as obtaining a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School.  Now that Warren has entered a new school environment, the discussion of norms is as important as ever to make sure everyone feels welcomed and supported. Here are some questions and answers about Warren’s views on school norms and Blake.


Q: What would you envision as social norms that people don’t always talk about?


A: “I feel like this dates me but I think that one thing that I think about as a social norm is sort of cell phone etiquette and how when you’re in spaces with people how your cell phone cuts you off if your constantly looking down…I know most teenagers have their phones out all the time but how do you make eye contact with people or show them that what their saying matters to you and how you show people you are engaged in that conversation. A big thing for me is how do you create a sense of belonging….that would be one of the big things. Another would be how we talk to each other and show respect in the ways we engage whether that’s a student or a faculty member. For me, I came from a first name school so learning everyone’s last names will be a new social norm.” 


Q: In terms of things that incoming students should know about unspoken rules, specifically grade lounges, how do you feel the best way to communicate those rules is?


A: “Post COVID-19, now….there might be some unspoken rules that you might realize weren’t good things and you [seniors] have an opportunity to reset norms and I think that’s kind of a cool position for you all to be in. In terms of how to communicate those….some are really about hierarchy and I think there’s a part of you that asks “do we want to continue those?” and I think that’s a worthwhile question to ask and yet….sometimes it’s okay to have those traditions because that creates community. Having the ninth graders have their area together allows them to have their space that feels safe and comfortable…I think you can frame it where it isn’t a “this is where you have to be” as in this is your space. A lot of it is about how we tell stories, so do we tell the story as “this is the only place you’re allowed to be” or do we tell it as “this is your space”. Its framing it as a positive rather than framing it as a negative” 


Q: Are you excited to see Blake and what it’s like?


A: “It’s weird I’ve been at Blake since July 10 but it’s just me and faculty….none of the students are there. I haven’t really met any people that I hadn’t already met yet. I’m a mild introvert so I’m very excited but apprehensive to meet everyone all at once. So I think I’m excited for the second week of September when I will know everyone and kind of settle into a routine.”