Bob Whelan became Greens Farms Academy’s (GFA) eighth Head of School today, succeeding Janet Hartwell who served at the helm since 2003. Whelan held the Head of School position at Lake Forest Country Day School outside of Chicago for five years.
“I have come to know GFA as a school that lives its core values of passion, integrity, empathy, curiosity, and excellence,” Whelan wrote in a letter to current families. “I am inspired by the community’s unwavering commitment to putting students at the center, where they are known and engaged as partners in their own learning. I am keenly aware that learning environments like Greens Farms Academy do not develop by accident, but rather, the culture reflects an intentional and abiding commitment to excellence. I feel fortunate to be joining such a community of inspiring educators; open, kind students; and enthusiastic, engaged parents and alumni.”
Whelan’s personal and professional path to independent school leadership is one of diverse and interesting experiences. Raised in a small town in Maine, he attended South Portland High School before Phillips Academy Andover. After graduating from Andover, he matriculated at Brown University where he earned his B.A. in 1991 as a double major in American Civilization and Philosophy. For several years after graduation, Whelan's career was involved with music as founder, singer, songwriter, business manager, and director of a band that performed over four hundred concerts and he received a major label recording contract with Atlantic Records and a publishing deal with EMI Music.
Whelan returned to Brown in 2001 to serve in the University's well-regarded Development Office. His initial responsibilities were with alumni Class Campaigns and subsequently as the Director of the Parents Leadership Program. During this time, he also earned a M.Ed. in Education, Policy, and Management from Harvard University.
In 2007, Whelan accepted the position of Director of Development at Rippowam Cisqua School in Bedford, NY, with additional duties as a teacher and coach. His responsibilities soon broadened, as he became Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement and then Associate Head of School. In 2013, Whelan was chosen as Head of School at Lake Forest Country Day School, a PreK-8 school of 406 students in the suburbs of Chicago. Whelan's leadership at LFCDS has been transformational in bringing about innovations that have improved the quality of the school's curriculum, increased enrollment, reinvigorated faculty and staff morale, upgraded facilities, and created a more diverse and inclusive community.
Whelan and his wife Annie, a veterinarian, have two children. Their daughter, Chloe, is a student at Choate Rosemary Hall School and son Ben will be a seventh grader at GFA this fall. Whelan currently serves as a Trustee at Catherine Cook School in Chicago. He is an active sports fan who enjoys bicycling, skiing, and reading, and has a strong interest in environmental issues as evidenced by his current volunteer work for Lake Forest Open Lands and his prior service with the Westmoreland Sanctuary Board of Directors in Bedford.
“During the in-depth interview process over several stages, Whelan's energy and enthusiasm for Greens Farms and its mission were evident to all,” the GFA Board of Trustees said in a statement. “Greens Farms Academy is poised for a bold and bright future. We are excited he will join our family next year.”