Maren Jinnett Takes Over as Interim Director of the Upper School

At+the+beginning+of+the+second+semester+of+the+2019-2020+school+year%2C+English+Department+Chair+Maren+Jinnett+became+the+interim+director+of+the+Upper+School.+Staff+Photo%3A+Ellie+Gruber.+

At the beginning of the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year, English Department Chair Maren Jinnett became the interim director of the Upper School. Staff Photo: Ellie Gruber.

Ellie Gruber, Staff Writer

One month ago, at the beginning of the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year, English Department Chair Maren Jinnett became the interim director of the Upper School. 

According to Jinnett, she was asked to take the position as Upper School Director around a year ago. “The first thing to come out of my mouth was ‘Really?’ with a lot of questions and exclamation marks,” Jinnett said. She was extremely humbled and grateful for this “amazing opportunity” to expand her position at Menlo. 

The position opened up when John Schafer, Menlo Upper School Director of 10 years went on sabbatical in January of this year. Schafer is travelling around the world this semester to expose his kids to the international community. He plans on returning to Menlo after his trip in time for the next school year. Prior to leaving, Shaefer helped prepare Jinnett for the role as to make the transition smoother.

After being in the job for over a month, Jinnett explains how much she has enjoyed the job so far and how well it plays with her job as English chair. “I think they actually play nicely together […] and I have an amazing department that I love more than anything,” Jinnett said. 

However, the job does entail a lot more work than she had as English department chair. “The scale of everything is bigger. So a lot of the same skill sets are required as the English chair, but just on a much bigger scale and across more complexity,” Jinnett said. This means that she is having to hire new staff members for all departments, not just the English department, and engage with families to a much greater extent.

Although it is a lot of work, Jinnett is loving the job and is a little sad to only have it until July. After the school year ends she will be going back to her full-time role as English department chair and teaching many of her English classes that she had to leave behind prior to taking this role.