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Head of School Penny B. Evins

Spring Reflections

Spring 2024

Dear Members of the Holton Community,

It is hard to believe we are at this moment in our year together, marked by the growth and development of every Holton Panther and those of us who claim our campus on River Road as the place we gather to practice our professional craft as educators. As you know, I consider all who work in a school as educators. With spring comes the opportunity to count on one hand, in some cases on one finger, the final experiences of traditions and daily Holton moments for our graduates, in this case, the Class of 2024. Many of our Senior Parents have shared their disbelief that their daughters have reached this milestone. The Senior Lounge, a space I frequently visit with GiGi, is a melange of feelings, and displays group learning and teaming over challenging Calculus problems while also discussing pop culture. 

Ready for What’s Next

As I imagine what is next for these capable and caring young adults, I ask: Have we delivered our mission to the best of our ability? Do they know how to “find a way or make one?” Will they reflect on their Holton experience with appreciation and gratitude for the gift of a holistic education, not only of the mind but of the soul, and spirit? As I reflect on our recent Reunion Weekend, I wonder and hope that the Class of 2024 will delight in coming back to campus to see each other, the educators who cared for their hearts and minds, and support Holton’s mission far into the distant future, with their time, talent, and treasure. 

Every Room is a Classroom

In April, several fourth graders presented their interdisciplinary studies of Africa to our Board of Trustees. With poise and curiosity, they shared discoveries and wayfinding on this multi-dimensional project They inspired and centered the conversation and delighted every participant with their knowledge about the culture of another’s home. This vision for young women to stretch their minds, souls, and spirits, was established in 1901, when Mrs. Holton expressed “My high hope is that they who enter through the Open Door of Holton-Arms remember that they felt, in the friendliness of a home, the urge to learn, and the joy of overcoming obstacles as the way to happiness and the fullest life.” Mrs. Holton’s dream is a reality we see every day in our Panthers, as represented by these fourth graders, our future generation of leaders. Simply put, our world needs the skills, empathy, and collective humanity of your daughters and children. In partnership, we strive to ensure they have the mindsets, skills, and habits we cultivate, during their school years and long after Holton’s graduation ceremony.

Mind Soul Spirit

As we enter the final stretch of our academic year together, I thank you for your warm welcome, purposeful engagement, and high hopes for our School. In partnership with our Board of Trustees, I have been learning, engaging, and adapting hopes, expectations, and ideas for our future. In line with our founder’s vision, we’ve encountered both anticipated and unforeseen challenges along the way this academic year. We’ve made mistakes with the best of intentions, weathered losses, and navigated difficult moments. Yet, amidst these trials, we’ve also experienced remarkable triumphs. From academic achievements to artistic endeavors, and athletic triumphs. Tangible measures of Holton’s impact this year are realized by heightened admissions interest and record-breaking philanthropic support; we stand poised to unlock even greater potential across all these domains.

A Place to Belong

It is my personal and professional belief that Holton has a tremendous opportunity and duty of care to ensure the more than 600 seasoned families as well as the 300 new families from the last three years, gather more often to build, experience, and maintain our sense of community as a diverse group of individuals. We learn best when we share experiences together.

One Holton Community

As I said in my convocation address, “Let us actualize Mrs. Holton’s dream for her School— a place of human connection and cultivation of the mind, soul, and spirit. A place where we celebrate needing each other.” I also shared how the children’s story of Corduroy, the bear who reminds us to remember who you are and remember who loves you, inspires me to launch initiatives to connect our community. Our youngest and oldest Panthers learn, live, and lead best when able to see each other across the grade levels as “sisters.” This happens during Admission panels and speaking with prospective families. I look forward to using our spacious Marriott Gymnasium for community gatherings, to invite our students to share voices and stories. We will welcome alumnae and guest speakers to share experiences and showcase the relevant skills they learned within the hallways of our interconnected learning community and beyond. By showcasing our students, professionals, alumnae, parents, area professionals, and volunteers from near and far, we both extend the classroom to community gatherings and benefit from the gift of being together as One Holton Community, as represented in our crest. The orb signifies a guild, which from the old meaning of the word, is a group that comes together for a purpose. Thus, the three orbs symbolize the three groups of students at Holton — Upper, Middle, and Lower Schools— who come together to learn, develop character, and provide service to the community. The bay tree branch symbolizes youth. The open book symbolizes the teacher’s role in imparting knowledge and the staff ’s role in supporting the educational process. What better way to embody our crest than through community gatherings? Old and young, inwardly facing and outwardly experienced. 

Join Us!

In this vein, I bring attention to the final gatherings of our year, which will provide an open door to you, and our families to join us for final ceremonies and spirited celebrations.

Click here for an updated calendar.

Thank you again for the warm welcome, and opportunity to learn from and listen to your feedback while thinking about the possibilities for our future advancement as a collective group of mission-driven professionals. We all care deeply about your daughters and children. I remain grateful for the privilege to serve as Head of Holton-Arms School.





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