Last November, we announced that Head of Lower School Janet McMillion decided to retire at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. This will be a real loss to us at MICDS, especially to the Lower School. Mrs. McMillion has served MICDS and Mary I with great commitment and joy since 1981. In the last decade, she and her husband Clark have watched their children, Susannah ’06 and Marian ’09, graduate from MICDS. Now it is time for her to enjoy some of the many other things she loves: time with family, especially at her special island off the coast of Maine, singing and reading, tai chi, walks in nature and at the Botanical Garden and so much more!
Mrs. McMillion began her tenure at Mary Institute as the Beasley music teacher and served in that role for 16 years. She remembers fondly, “At MI and then MICDS, I got to make music and open children’s hearts to the joy that comes hand in hand.”
Beginning in 1997, she oversaw Lower School Admission, a role she held for the next 11 years; and that was her role when she first met Lisa Lyle. When the Head of Lower School position came open late in Lisa Lyle’s first year as Head in spring 2008, Mrs. McMillion was asked to take the interim role. Ms. Lyle realized that, at the very least, Mrs. McMillion would know every Lower School family from her many years in the Admission Office.
Mrs. McMillion dutifully agreed, but she worried that she would not have the curricular experience necessary to lead the Lower School effectively. However, just a few short months into the job, Mrs. McMillion found that she was thriving in the role. And when we conducted a national search the following fall, she emerged as the strongest candidate by far. She has led the Lower School ever since, and we have loved seeing the Lower School become stronger under her watchful eye. In this role, Mrs. McMillion exudes joy, patience, kindness and steady guidance wherever she goes.
As Head of Lower School, Mrs. McMillion has worked alongside faculty and staff to create a stimulating, challenging and technologically advanced learning environment for children. She helped build a learning continuum with curriculum, standards and pedagogy that align with the School’s strategic goals. Committed to innovative teaching and learning, Mrs. McMillion also helped implement the bench-marking assessments that the School now uses to collect data and inform curricular and pedagogical decisions. In addition, her work to adopt the Responsive Classroom Approach has been paramount to the School’s vision to be an inclusive place for all children to learn and grow.
Those are just some of Mrs. McMillion’s professional achievements. But there’s also much more about Mrs. McMillion that makes her an outstanding leader. Anyone who has ever been in a room with Mrs. McMillion knows that her heart for students and the colleagues she works with is enormous. She makes every single person feel known and valued, and she inspires us to be better human beings because of her example of kindness and generosity. There is no doubt that Mrs. McMillion will be greatly missed and that her legacy will continue here on this campus for years to come.
Please join us in congratulating Mrs. McMillion on a job well done and a life filled with purpose and service. Janet McMillion epitomizes our School’s Mission, and she deserves all the best as she pursues her next chapter.
During our search for Mrs. McMillion’s successor, Amy Scheer, formerly JK-12 Mathematics Department Chair, has agreed to serve as Interim Head of Lower School. She joins a strong and stable Lower School team of educators who will partner well with Ms. Scheer as they continue to deliver the excellent educational experiences that make Beasley such a special learning community for our youngest students.
Ms. Scheer brings to this role a wealth of experience, training and knowledge. She joined the MICDS community as a math teacher 11 years ago and for the past nine years has served as JK-12 Math Department Chair. In this capacity, she has worked closely with Beasley faculty, students and parents alike. She has enjoyed the opportunity to partner with Lower School teachers to implement a cohesive, standards-based math curriculum that has helped our students grow as mathematicians and critical thinkers.
Thanks to Ms. Scheer’s collaborative approach, our Beasley faculty created grade-level exit goals, incorporated new assessments to measure student growth and developed new instructional approaches to make student thinking more visible in mathematics. As students have needed additional challenge or remediation, Ms. Scheer has been right there with faculty, helping assess student needs and differentiate instruction. She has also worked in partnership with parents over the years to support each student. This year, she is teaching two sections of 5th grade math, and she loves working with younger children.
Over the years, Ms. Scheer has been an invaluable partner in advancing school-wide conversations about assessment and standards, of both students and the faculty. She served as Co-Chair of the last Strategic Plan subcommittee on teaching and learning, and she has presented many times in small and large groups on these topics. Her background in statistical analysis and data mining in corporate and academic settings has allowed us to make better use of student data to identify the strengths of our work
as well as to discover future opportunities for growth in mathematics and beyond.
Ms. Scheer also knows Beasley as a parent. She and her husband, Joe Crall, have been impressed with the experience their two daughters, Noemi ’26 and Annabelle ’30, have had in the Lower School. Ms. Scheer’s experience as a parent has deepened her understanding and affection for Beasley.
In the coming year, MICDS’ next Head of School Jay Rainey will relaunch a national search for the next Head of Lower School. While Ms. Scheer serves in this interim role, Head of Upper School Scott Small and Head of Middle School Jen Schuckman have appointed Janet Purdy and Dr. Jody Marberry to serve as divisional mathematics coordinators for Upper School and Middle School, respectively, for the coming year.
Please join us in both thanking and congratulating Ms. Scheer on this appointment. We are also grateful for the members of the Search Committee, who have invested significant time and effort in this first search and who will be asked to step up again in the fall.