Interview with Tom Doar, former Headmaster


Interview with Tom Doar, former Headmaster


Former Head of School Tom Doar looks back on his time at North Shore with interviewer and faculty member Frank Dachille. He discusses what sets North Shore apart from other schools, and the different ways that manifests both inside and outside of the classroom. He also remembers being a North Shore parent and discusses the different roles he held during his two separate periods of employment at North Shore.


North Shore Country Day School Archives


North Shore Country Day School Archives


February 7, 2017


All rights reserved, North Shore Country Day School.






Oral History



OHMS Object Text

Tom Doar, Former Head of School, Interview 07 February 2017

Frank Dachille: Okay, I'm here with Tom Doar. Today is Tuesday, the 7th of February. It's my great pleasure to introduce Tom and to talk to Tom about his years here at North Shore. So, basically, tell me about, you know, your time here at North Share and what brought you here and—

Tom Doar: Okay. Well, it's good to be here. I actually had two stints at North Shore. The first began in 1980 when I moved from Saint Paul, Minnesota to become the lower school head and worked for Dick Hall, who hired me and who was here through about 1987 or '88. And that, during that time, also was director of admissions.

And then I returned in 1996 and worked in development and admissions and became head of school in 2000 until 2016. I was teaching at a school in Saint Paul and having been there for six or seven years was looking for some more responsibility, and I met with the head of school there, who suggested I needed to be patient. And I told him I wasn't sure I wanted to be, and he said, well, I've got a friend down in Chicago who's looking for a lower school head, maybe there'd be some interest in your pursuing that. And so that's kind of the first introduction to North Shore.

Dachille: So you were a lower school teacher up in Saint Paul?

Doar: I was a lower school teacher and a coach. I'd done, I'd been in interim director of admissions for a year when the current director had gone on sabbatical and so this was an opportunity to get some administrative experience. And I came down and interviewed and was lucky enough to get the opportunity.

Dachille: And when you came here first as the head of lower school, which of your children was already on the scene?

Doar: There were no Doar children.

Dachille: Oh, there were no Doar children yet, okay.

Doar: No. Mouse and I came here in 1980 and Tom was born in 1982. And so, we had three kids here and when we moved to New York in 1989, we moved to Chicago in 1980 with no kids and we moved to New York in 1989 with three.

So, interestingly, my first impressions of the school were incredibly friendly place and a terrific area and it was smaller than the schools I'd worked in and so that was a difference. It was about half the size of Saint Paul Academy.

And the second thing was I was struck by how invested the school seemed to be in all of its students, not that Saint Paul Academy hadn't been, but I remembered thinking in those first couple years that the top and kind of middle students at North Shore were well-supported the way they had been at Saint Paul Academy, but the bottom kids seemed to be almost better supported and valued more. And I say top, middle, and bottom in, which is really not a very good term to use at North Shore, because as you know, we don't put them in those categories, which is pretty refreshing. They put themselves.

Dachille: But they kind of put themselves in those, yes, we don't do that, but it's, that's kind of how it works out.

Doar: Right.

Dachille: So, alright, so when you first got here, okay, talk about some of the people who were here that, when you went through the interview process and then when you were lower school head. You know, people who were significant or people who made an impression on you.

Doar: Right. Dick Hall was the head of school. He had just completed his first year and I remember being amazed at how well he seemed to know people after only a year, because when I got here, I was so, things were moving so fast. I thought how I'm going to, can I get the lay of the land? Well, as you know in schools, once you're in a school you figure out the lay of the land pretty quickly.

Lower school had some incredibly strong teachers. Two very talented educators, a woman by the name of Kathleen Collingbourne and a man by the name of Lew Davis were both kind of at a stage of wondering how long they'd stay. Kathleen decided to retire at the end of that year and it was a challenge to replace her. And Lew looked at Kathleen and thought, gosh, if I stay, I could be that in twenty years and so he decided to head to New York. But Helen Turley was a kindergarten teacher and she was outstanding. Carol Ablemann was the first grade teacher.

Julie Hall was the middle school head at the time, and Mac McCarty was going strong. Jay Bach was going strong. Mac kind of welcomed me. We had a little bit of a connection in that Mac went to Hamlin College, which is in Saint Paul and I taught in Saint Paul. So he was nice to me at the beginning. And, it was just a place that, you know, you could jump in full-speed and do your thing. We were a smaller school at the time, probably 390 kids plus or minus, and the lower school was proportionally smaller.

Dachille: Right.

Doar: And, but a really good lower school and kind of the driving force was the Perry Dunlap Smith philosophy that all kids matter and everybody does everything, and individual teachers who had an incredible, incredibly strong sense of ownership in the school, their school. So my job was to kind of try to support and manage. I remember being very frustrated with the manner in which I ran faculty meetings because they, I'd try to set an agenda and start things and the conversation would just go everywhere. People were not at all hesitant to weigh in, which is, I've learned since, it's typical of a North Shore faculty. And I can remember being, thinking, saying to Mouse, gosh, I wish I were better at running meetings, until one of the teachers came to me and said, "You run such great meetings. Everybody gets a chance to talk."

And then, within the first couple years, we hired two or three really talented people. We had Bob Kramer as the fifth grade teacher, who was hired after my first year and, to this day, one of the most talented educators I've ever worked with. Sarah Updike, who was a fourth grade teacher was an outstanding. A woman by the name of Jenny Pliska taught second grade and was outstanding. So it was a really strong group.

Dachille: I'm going to go off script here just a little bit, giving the amount of time you spent at North Shore. So, when you came back, so you were gone ten years. But you maintained some connection, I assume, with the school, but when you came back and then through your time, so if you looked at North Shore when you got first year and then you looked at it when you retired, what kind of things stayed the same? What kind of things changed?

Doar: I think the commitment to the individual student, individual child, and knowing every kid has always been a part of North Shore. I think faculty having a strong voice and weighing in on all decisions and being counted on to weigh in is, is remained the same. I think the broad participation, kids doing everything, stayed the same. The K-to-12-ness and the interaction of the ages has stayed the same. I think in the eighties we thought North Shore was somewhat progressive and kind of forward-thinking. I think we thought that in the nineties, and I think we thought, we think that now in the 2000s. So, I think that's, while there were different issues, the school was always pretty open about looking forward. Family school. Those are the things I think that have stayed the same.

In terms of shifts, school's gotten bigger. The schedule seems to be a little more frantic. Programs have all grown and individually, the growth of those programs is terrific and yet, when you put them all together, you wonder how they fit.

Dachille: Right, right.

Doar: You know, the story of the Model UN program. Remember you were here one or two years and you came in and you put out in July a schedule for the next year and it had gone from two Model UNs to seven. And I was the head of school at the time, and I thought to myself, now there's an indication of a really good school that you've got an individual who's committed enough and independent enough to create this program, only to have our good friend Patrick McHugh say to me, oh, I was frustrated to get Frank's email. I said, well, why? It's great. And he said, well, yeah, but those model UNs happen during athletic seasons and it just makes the logistics that much more complicated. Now, he clearly has supported it, but it's that tension that I think probably is far more part of the place now than it was way back when.

Dachille: Right. And the physical plant changed.

Doar: Physical plants have changed dramatically.

Dachille: Dramatically.

Doar: Yeah. And that's, that actually was, is a surprise to me, because the physical plant, I'm not a physical plant guy and the physical plant seemed very functional. And yet, we started out with the thinking about a, excuse me, when I was here in the eighties, the library was in the upper floor of this upper school building. And so, the board let, what it calls, partnership created this vision of a library and the library got built just as I left. And then when I came back, I thought well, the library's here. That's new. And we won't need to do any change, and then there was a sense that we need a science center. And the science center then was a project that took three or four years and it had an incredibly positive impact and the thought was, well, we're doing the science center, let's do the lower and the middle school. And then, oh, well, the next thing we need to do are the upper school and the auditorium. So it was kind of one of these things that seemed to be the necessary thing to do, as opposed to a long, long, long-range vision that said, here's what has to happen.

Dachille: Right, okay. Because I often wondered about that, if, you know, how that, if that plan for the redevelopment of the campus had been a long-term thing and you just happened to be here when it was the right time or if it just, the board, the people on the board and the community said, alright, this is—

Doar: Yeah. I think what happened is I think the school has always been sound financially, but there are different degrees of being sound financially and I think the strength, the increased enrollment in the nineties and early 2000s, and a strong fundraising, continued strong fundraising momentum, shifted us from kind of the overall maintenance agenda being let's get, let's see if we can George to go fix it or Kenny to go fix it, to maybe we should hire professionals to look at it. And so there were a lot of ways we did business with Bob Beerheide, a terrific business manager. You know, what did somebody say, he wants to squeeze a nickel to turn it into a dime.

Dachille: Right, right.

Doar: And there was a shift when the science center was built that kind of, A, we had the resources but, B, we realized that the deferred maintenance had gotten to a point where there was no turning back. So it was, I'm sure that the boards in the eighties and early nineties thought, there's going to come a time and it's going to be soon. But they're dealing with other things and so there was no real sense. And so when I interviewed to be head of school, there was no conversation about, you know, we have this, this facility plan. It was, you know, it was almost a generic question, what do you think about campus and facilities? Well, you take inventory and you do what it takes. Oh, that's a good answer.

Dachille: Right. Right. Okay, so, the question I'm going to ask you now has to do with the big picture, so looking at the national situation and the world situation in the time you were here. So once again, there's two time periods here. So you were here during the Reagan administration basically your first time and then, you know, you came back just a few years before I came. So—

Doar: When did you come, Frank?

Dachille: I came '97, this is my twentieth, so '97/'98. No, '96/'97 I think was my first year. So, this is my twentieth and you were here working in admissions and development. And I think that was, I want to say, two years I had my head, Julie was the head while, when I first got here. So it was, you know, mid- to late-nineties when you came back. So, and obviously, like the first thing that comes to my mind is like 9/11. Like, that, that and then the Iraq war and things. So when you look back, how do you, how do you remember that as far as how North Shore fit into that picture and as the head of school, how did you view how we, the faculty and staff, like handled that, how we helped guide students through those times. Because I'll just give editorial interjection here, we're kind of going through the same kind of thing right now, you know. It kind of reminds me about. So we're back in that place where we're trying to decide what the right thing to do is.

Doar: Well, the interesting thing is is that Dick Hall, who was my first boss and my boss through the eighties, started in 1979, and he came in, what I have learned from people, the seventies were challenging here. And the seventies were challenging here in part because they followed the sixties, and the school had gotten, and the world, had gotten pretty complex and kids that kind of moved to trying to express their frustrations and feelings were strong. And, I think Dick was, came at a time where there was a sense of let's kind of refocus on the Perry Dunlap Smith sense of community.

Dachille: Right.

Doar: And so, in the eighties, there seemed to be pretty good traction. The school being relatively normal in the context of supporting students and families and yet, teachers were always open-minded and there was always this kind of understood sense that you needed to make your curriculum relevant and you had independence relative to selecting your curriculum and you as a teacher needed to be responsive to helping kids prepare for the world. The term 'global consciousness' was something that was a part of the Perry Dunlap Smith original mission statement. Julie Hall talked a lot, and Dick Hall, talked a lot about the global program. And Dick Hall brought in the Assist program in the eighties. And so, I think there was a sense that we were, by mission and by size and nimbleness, being relatively responsive and supported kids. I think we built on that in the nineties, as well.

I think it, just as kind of an aside, my sense is is that the school in the seventies and eighties and nineties was a really good little school in Winnetka, but was not quite seen community-wide as an excellent alternative by a wide range of people. If your child wanted to play sports and they couldn't make it in a big school, they'd go to North Shore. If you had an independent school family history, you might choose North Shore. Your strong athlete might go to the public schools, your second child who's not quite as good might go to North Shore. And I think what's evolved is that the school is now seen as a terrific option and kind of competing at a very high level.

Mac McCarty once said to me- admissions has always been a real challenge here. Mac McCarty once said to me when I was in admissions, Tom, you know, they've got all these committees with board members and trustees trying to figure out how to fill the school. Well, I'll tell you how to fill it. I said, how, Mac? He said, pick it up and move it. And so, there, that was an issue.

But back to kind of the relevance to the world, I think the interim program has always kind of almost by definition said teachers, look beyond the walls of North Shore and frame experiences that can help connect kids to the greater Chicago community and the world as a whole. I think some of the trips that have been taken have done the same. So I think that it, the school has always been pretty thoughtful and pretty responsive and pretty open to kind of evolving with the times.

2011 was really challenging and we both remember that day. And I remember going down to the library and the middle school head at the time had heard, had, knew this was happening and pulled the kids in front of a TV, which I was, my instinct says was not a good idea and yet, you don't make that call necessarily and disrupt things even more. And then we came to the upper school and I remember walking upstairs and you walked out of your room and you, at the time, were in the reserves, and you said this is pretty confusing, what I think we need to do is let people know and then go back to work. Terrorists want to disrupt and let's not play into that hand. And we did and we made it through the day. And whether you were right or not was, I think you were, I know you were, but more importantly, you had a certainty about you that kind of reassured me as the head of school saying, oh, Frank says this, it makes sense, let's go forward. We then had an assembly a day or two later and one of our colleagues, Drea Gallaga, spoke and was actually, I think, in charge of putting the program together. We had some music that we played. We had a couple poems. And Drea got up and, as a Quaker, talked about her philosophy and focus and kind of her strength she gets from her faith. And one of the interesting things she said at the time is, as a Quaker, we really don't believe in nationalism and therefore I struggle kind of saluting the flag, or something like that, which I, of course, my stomach fell as she said in front of 450 kids and students. But, everybody was open, everybody was responsive. Everybody kind of pulled together and we kind of, we made it.

Dachille: Yes. So, let me ask you, here's, I'm going to go up again here, because you were not only the head of school, but you were a parent, too. So, can you kind of reflect on how you see how North Shore affected your children, now at some point I'll interview them, too, so they'll get to speak for themselves, but, you know, they were here and so, when you look back on that.

Doar: I think probably that's, that's the thing that I was, North Shore was great for them. I knew it was great. It was, it was terrific. And I've kind of operated under the assumption that North Shore was great for them, and if anybody asked me why, I'd say, oh, they get great teachers, great opportunities, really good, sound education, reading, writing. Got to participate fully.

However, now that I'm kind of at the tail end of my career and I look back, I really kind of underestimated the impact that the school had on them and our family and how truly special it was for us all to be a part of North Shore. They, Tom, our oldest, you know, talked about going to college and one of the things that seemed different about him than his good friends in college is that he did everything in high school and they had to specialize in music or in athletics or in academics. He talked about had he gone to New Trier, he probably could've found a core group of kids that were almost like him and he would've stuck in that, that small group instead of at North Shore, the smallness of the class, but the diversity of the class triggered really wonderful friendships across the board. Talks about struggling writing and becoming a confident writer, because of teachers like Kathy McHugh and Kevin Randolph and Frank Dachille and others.

So, I mean, Charlie was one who a little bit, he was smaller, physically. He was a little more methodical. Again, big school, probably would've been fine for him, but this was a place where he, he had a voice and, you know, he ran for office and he got to play on the teams. And, you know, both of the boys were in, on the stage, and had a great time.

When Tom was a freshman, I told him that he should sing in the choir, in chorus, and he said, Dad, I can't sing. And I said, well, you know, that's North Shore, that's what you're supposed to do. He said, no, no. And so we negotiated that he'd do it his sophomore year. So of course sophomore year came and went and he didn't do it and junior year he didn't do it. And so, three weeks into his senior year, I said, tell me about your courses. It was at dinner one night. He said, well, the one I like best is chorus. I said, you're in chorus? And he said, yeah, I have to get an arts credit. He said, I can't sing at all, but choir is great and to this day, he looks back at that kind of senior year chorus experience as something that was really meaningful to him.

And I think Mullery liked being the younger sister and liked, again, having a voice and doing a wide range of things and she, too, played sports and was the jester in the Madrigal feast and, you know, got to know her teachers. Of the three, I think she was probably the one who would've done almost as, who would've done, who would've been well-suited to the public school, as well, and yet, to this day, she talks about, you know, how much she values the experience. And it's evident that she's back doing it.

Dachille: And it is, and I will say that the way the students gravitate toward her, it's clear that she has a way about her and, you know, there's always, when I go by her office, there's always girls in there. And so she, she can connect with them in a very real way. And I don't know if she told you, did you tell you that I yelled at her last week?

Doar: No.

Dachille: Alright, well, so, you know, okay, so, you know we have houses now, right? So we were having a house meeting and I was trying to get it started and I see two girls on the stairs of the V and the one I can see is, you know—

Doar: A student.

Dachille: A student. And I'm like, ladies, is there a problem? Like, I think she was supposed to sit down.

Doar: And the other one's Mullery.

Dachille: And the other turns around and it's Mullery I'm like, I'm like, I'm sorry. I said, well, the good news is you still look like a kid so all the kids started laughing, but, yeah, I couldn't from the back, she looked like—

Doar: Right, she told us yesterday that there were two boys in her office discussing the treatment, the treatment that they, discussing an interaction with a teacher dean who they thought was a little bit narrow and one-sided. And they were trying to, they were looking for some sympathy, and I think the good news is is they have a comfort level with her to do that. And she said, well, now wait a minute, look at it from his standpoint or don't you think this and don't you think that? And so I think she's able to, A, connect with them, but also teach, which is why, what we're all supposed to do.

Dachille: Yeah, and she, so she's got it, so.

Doar: Yeah, no, it's good.

Dachille: And it's fun having her around.

Doar: But, you know, it's interesting, Frank, because people I've asked me how I'm doing and I'm very happy doing what I'm doing. The time was right for me, and I think it was right for the school and I'm [] back, I certainly miss the people and I miss the routine. But, kind of a little bit like you, I do what I do. I get up and do it and then I go to bed and I do the same thing. And I didn't, I wasn't terribly introspective. You know, you just go. Now, you not sleep some nights because you were frustrated about something or you were worrying about something but you just kind of went. So, I didn't stop and take inventory a whole lot about my kids in the school. They were doing well and I was happy and it was good. But as I look back, it's become more and more apparent that the experience they had here, you know, has really helped make them, you know, who they are. And I think, or the positive elements of who they are, in so many ways.

Dachille: So it's interesting, though, that, you know, now you have time to kind of sit back and process things.

Doar: Right, process it.

Dachille: And, which is good. I think, you know, in Hinduism there's this, they talk about the stages of life and what you're supposed to do. They have a very set idea of where you're supposed to be and when we get to where we are, like life's not the same, and this is the time to do things. There's some things you can't do anymore, right? I'd love to play basketball again, but that's not going to happen. But it does give you time to sit and process things.

So, okay, so next question, when you, so, since we're talking about reflection, this is a good segue, when you reflect on your time at North Shore, what meaning does it hold for you and, this is kind of, this second part of the question, you know, how did you use it after you left North Shore, but you've only left North Shore for a little while, so we won't worry about that. But when, now that you've had some time to reflect and you look back at the totality of your time here, how do []—

Doar: You know, I think that when I used to sell the school from the admissions standpoint or from a head of school standpoint, somebody coming, I used to say them there are more similarities than, from school to school, than there are differences. There are teachers, there are students, there are schedules, there are calendars, there's curriculum, there's special events. So, you know, when you come and look at North Shore, you're going to see a whole lot that is familiar.

The things that are different are kind of the culture, kind of ethos, size, and kind of an energy and I've always thought that North Shore is a pretty unique place. You can find a lot of school X or school Y or school Zs, terrific schools that we would be very fortunate to work, and you'd feel, we'd both feel satisfied and be challenged. But there's something about North Shore that I think is unique and I think it's the mission, which is a commitment to prepare kids to be contributors and a commitment to all kids, not just some. I think it's the size because we do know one another and I think it's the kind of history and culture where you don't do that at North Shore.

Leonie O’Donohoe, the great Leonie O’Donohoe was the administrative assistant at the upper school for Paul Perkinson in the late-nineties and we had a boy transfer in late October from New Trier. He's a big, tall, heavy-set Perry Hill. And Perry was a bright kid, mom wanted a shift. He was a little bit in a rut, but really smart, and day one, Leonie had an interaction with him at 8:30 where he was kind of impatient and kind of budged ahead of a couple kids and asked in a demanding tone that he was unaware of, but he did, and then she saw an interaction about an hour later, this is his first morning where he kind of elbowed somebody and kind of looked down his nose at them. And then, later in the morning, he kind of came in and he kind of sighed and it was kind of a belittling sigh or crack with this other young girl in the classroom. And Leonie kind of pushed him aside and took him, put her finger in his chest and said, "We don't do that here." And that has always stuck with me that, you know, you don't do that at North Shore.

Dachille: And I'm sure it stuck with him, too.

Doar: And I'm sure it stuck with him. Or the Shirley Smith line of the boy David from Highland Park, really bright boy, three weeks into the school year, taking a sophisticated math class and hearing a student say Mrs. Smith, when I talked to you last night on the phone, you said that number four goes like this. And he looked and said, "You talked to her on the phone? Are you an idiot? What are you doing? You called on the phone? Gosh, how lame." So, of course, she calmed him down and fast forward a week later and the phone rings and it's, "Mrs. Smith, David, I want number fourteen." And she had to stop and say, "David, it's okay to call, but here's how you start. Mrs. Smith, are you busy? Do you have a minute? And I am busy and I don't have a minute, so call back in an hour." So it's that kind of connection.

Now, schools have all those stories, but I think North Shore's got a unique spirit and the K-12-ness is a part of how that spirit is maintained. So I really feel very, very fortunate to have landed in this place and to be a part a school community. The kids talk about the C word and yet, it's real, and it makes a difference. Your comments, well, I'm not sure we do that at North Shore to kind of help kids understand the need for them to kind of be more present or for them to roll up their sleeves. And so I think that we've all been beneficiaries of a place that's kind of got a mission and a culture that's helped create this very sound foundation with thoughtful people weighing in to try to move it forward.

Dachille: Okay, so now we're at the final question. When you think of North Shore Country Day, what are the first three words that come to your mind and why did you select those words?

Doar: Believe it or not, community, relationships, and maybe commitment. And I don't think I would've come up with that word before hearing myself talk today. But I think the sense of community is very real and of critical importance to the institution and to kids and to families. I think community is more relevant, relative to education, in 2017 than it was in 2007 than it was in 1997 than it was in 1987. I think North Shore is more relevant today than it's ever been.

We had a family in the summer come by, oh, twelve, fifteen years ago and Dale Wintz the director of admissions said that she was going to be away and she thought I might talk to the family the next day. And it was a young, very capable, professional couple from Kenilworth and they had a child in the first grade, going into first grade or kindergarten. And they obviously had a nice, they were a good family. They believe in education. They were well-educated. They moved back to this area, so their kids could take advantage of the great public schools, one of whom had, one of the parents had been here. And they started rattling off the two or three or four things that they didn't like about their present school and it was very clear that as smart as they were, they had no clue about how to support a five-year-old. You know, there wasn't technology in the classroom and a teacher went on maternity leave, could you imagine a school allowing that? And it, it was just, I mean, they were nice, thoughtful people, but they were, they just didn't understand how to raise a kid. And I kept thinking, you know, the, they have a bar up here. The public school's meeting a bar much, much lower. We can get much closer to that bar, that unrealistic bar, but more importantly, we can work with the family to help understand that the bar that we have is the right one. And so I think it's that partnership that this school is, been a part of how we function, student to student, student to teacher, teacher to parent, that is, is really pretty special and creates a sense of community that's very, very real. So that's one. What did I say the second one was?

Dachille: The second one you said was relationships.

Doar: I think it's, you know, I am a big believer that the way schools work is you have talented adults committed to kids and connecting with kids and a scale that works and this scale, as hard as teachers have to work here to do their thing, the scale does work. And it's those connections that work. Kevin Randolph, our former colleague, once said in a school video that he does as much teaching in the corridors on his way to lunch and in assembly than he does in his classroom. And I think that there's a whole lot to that, so it's the connections and the partner, and the relationships that are just critical. In terms of my colleagues, I always felt that while I was the head, we'd do better if we could kind of figure things out together and you treat people the way you want to be treated. And you give people chances because you give people chances and there were many times when I thought, gosh, I need to be more decisive, which I'm pretty convinced I could've been and it would've been good for the school. Or, maybe not as patient with certain people. But at the end of the day you want people to have that opportunity. So I think it's nice.

And then I think commitment, people really work really, really hard here. There's something about the investment that comes from the teachers and the coaches. They know it's important. They know they're important. And they give it the North Shore Country Day and Night School. So those are the three, I think.

Dachille: Alright. So I think we've pretty much covered everything. Is there anything else you would like that we didn't—

Doar: One of the things that I would like to clarify is I, I've said this to Molly McDowell, I think North Shore alums from the various generations have a kind of a feeling for their classmates and their teachers and their school that's very genuine and very strong. And all schools have that but I've always thought that North Shore is kind of on the continuum near the, those schools where it's the strongest. And, again, I think it's the size and the mission and the fact that when these alums were students, they really mattered, you know? They weren't at the end of the line. They weren't lost in the shuffle, you know? They were on the front lines, because that's what you have to be.

Dachille: Yeah, and I know when I meet with them, years later, sometimes it's, you know, when we look at students, I think we think we know what's going through their head at the time, but when you see them years later, sometimes we had it right, but there's time when their perceptions were different. But at least the ones I talked to are very grateful for what was here. Sometimes they'll be the first to admit they didn't appreciate it at the time they were here, but once they left and went to a bigger place or a different place and they met other students their age who had a different experience, I think it makes them appreciate it. Because I think there's times we make it look easy.

Doar: Yeah. Yeah. No, I think so. You know, Paul Perkinson used to say that he used to check in with kids after they graduated, when they were in college, and say, what are the big differences? Well, one of the big differences is they weren't prepared for bubble tests, multiple-choice tests, but all felt they wrote with far more confidence at a far higher level than almost all their peers. All felt they were really good juggling things, because they had juggled things. And all were incredibly comfortable going to talk to the professors, much to the surprise of their classmates. And it's that kind of sense of trust. It's the, you know, Lauren Segal stopping at Kathy McHugh's house in her prom dress before going to prom to hand her her rough draft so she could come by the next day afternoon and get it.

Dachille: Right, right.

Doar: So, thanks, Frank.

Dachille: Alright, well, thank you.


W. Tom Doar III


Frank Dachille

Interview Format



North Shore Country Day School: The First 100 Years

Interview Duration





North Shore Country Day School Archives, “Interview with Tom Doar, former Headmaster,” North Shore Country Day School Archives, accessed September 26, 2023,


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