IBSC Ideas Lab
Professional Conversations for Women in Boys' Schools
Jawana M. Johnson
Jawana M. Johnson serves as the chief achievement officer (CAO) for the Eagle Academy Foundation (EAF). As CAO, she provides leadership coaching and capacity building. Johnson offers school and district leaders strategic solutions, targeted instructional support, and planning for succession and crisis management. She cultivates partnerships and resources to advance achievement across the Eagle Academy network of schools. EAF develops and supports a network of all-male, public, college-preparatory schools serving grades 6-12, located in challenged, urban communities where young men are educated and mentored as future leaders committed to excellence in character, scholastic achievement, and community service. EAF’s Eagle Institute promotes these principles nationally through collaborative partnerships and capacity building support to schools, districts, and other organizations seeking to increase opportunity and access for Black and Latino boys and young men and to dramatically improve their academic, social, and life outcomes. Through the Eagle Institute, Johnson drives strategic programming, designs external partner engagements, and leads school and district-level executive coaching.
For nearly 25 years, she has served as an educator and school leader, affording her diverse experiences including serving as the principal of the Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy Charter High School and participating in the trailblazing New Leaders for New Schools Aspiring Principal Residency Program. Johnson worked in the New York City Department of Education as an assistant principal, including the first Eagle Academy for Young Men located in the Bronx and teaching chemistry and living environment (biology) in Brooklyn, Harlem, and the South Bronx. Through these experiences she cultivated her love for teaching and developed a passion for empowering young people to use education as a lever for access and change. The desire to serve and increase opportunities for young people drives Johnson to continue this challenging yet rewarding work. In the wake of the national racial reckoning and post-pandemic landscape, she is now focused on COVID-19 recovery efforts through the prism of diversity and equity, disproportionality, engagement strategies for boys and young men of color, culturally responsive leadership, relational leadership and change management. She hopes to deepen the impact for students of color, improve school infrastructure and systems, and influence policy change.
Johnson earned her doctorate in educational and organizational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania, with a focus on organizational and instructional leadership, secondary principals, African American women, intersectionality, and influence. She holds two master of arts degrees: one in educational leadership from Baruch College of the City University of New York and the other in secondary chemistry education from New York University, where she was a Goldman Sachs Fellow. Johnson earned her bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Duke University. She is New York State certified in school administration and supervision and school district leadership.
Johnson is actively engaged in her community. She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., serves as interim board chair of Asase Yaa Cultural Arts Foundation, and is a founding board member of Black Ed-fluencers United (BE-U). A Brooklyn native, Johnson mentors many young people and professionals.
Women as Leaders in Boys’ Schools
Sarah Burns was born in Southampton but raised and educated in the Potteries. She attended her local comprehensive school and went to the Sixth Form College in Stoke before going on to study mathematics at Bangor University and then completing a PGCE at Durham University. Prior to joining Sandbach School (United Kingdom), Burns was deputy head teacher at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Ashbourne and assistant head teacher at Biddulph High School Staffordshire. She lives in North Staffordshire with her husband and in her spare time enjoys traveling, reading, and gardening.
The Power of Relationships
Kathy Funamoto has spent her career in education at Selwyn House School (Canada) in Montreal. The early years were spent teaching first through seventh grades, specializing in math and creating a school-wide enrichment program. As she moved out of classroom teaching, Funamoto focused her attention on developing and supporting the French immersion program as director of studies. For the last 17 years, she has been head of the elementary school. Funamoto enjoys reading to the kindergarten boys and Monday morning assemblies, all the while celebrating Veritas, Selwyn House School’s Vision. She was fortunate to spend time with her grandson during his first year of life and now Zooms and delights in his second year of antics.
The Power of Relationships
Margot Pearce is the 12th head of school and the first female to lead Fairfield Country Day School (United States). In 2003, she came to FCDS and worked as an English teacher until 2012, when she was appointed head of the middle school. From 2018-2020, Pearce led the school’s older boys as the head of upper school. Throughout her career at FCDS, she has embraced many leadership roles, ranging from curricular initiatives, to strategic planning, to teacher development and student safety. Over her tenure, Pearce has gained the admiration and support of her colleagues and the community through her passion for teaching, her love of the boys, and her vision for the school: She is fully committed to Fairfield Country Day School’s intentional approach to boys’ education and feels that “never has it been more important for boys to become good men.” Pearce is also an accomplished athlete and a beloved FCDS coach.
Lorri Hamilton Durbin
The Joys and Challenges of Working in Boys’ Schools
Prior to joining Town School for Boys in July 2017, Lorri Hamilton Durbin served as middle school director at The Dalton School in New York City, where she oversaw curriculum and program for 500 students in grades four through eight. She has worked in academic schools with distinct missions, where the emphasis has been on teams working together to create an outstanding educational program for the growth of every student.
Durbin served as the associate director at The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University; head of the middle school at The Nueva School in Hillsborough, CA; director of admissions and financial aid at San Francisco University High School; and alumni coordinator, admissions counsellor, and teacher at her alma mater, Midland School, in Los Olivos, CA. She has served twice as a member of the board of directors of the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) Board.
Along with her distinguished career in education, Durbin has worked at Cambridge Associates, LLC and Goldman, Sachs & Co. She has a B.A. in government from Pomona College, where she was the varsity soccer captain and member of the All-League Teams and played women’s lacrosse. Durbin holds a master’s in educational administration from Stanford University and a master’s of business administration from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. She currently serves on the boards of trustees at IBSC and the Common Sense Media Regional Council
The Joys and Challenges of Working in Boys’ Schools
Since 2005, Sherry Rusher has been the dean of faculty at St. Albans School (United States) in Washington, DC. Previously, Rusher taught at Castilleja School for Girls in Palo Alto, CA. She holds a B.A. degree in Spanish with a certificate in Latin American Studies from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, and received an M.A. in Spanish literature from the University of Texas, Austin. Rusher is also a former member of the IBSC board of trustees.
Before serving as the dean of faculty, Rusher was the chair of the Foreign Language Department at St. Albans School. She also served on the Governing Board at St. Albans School from 1995-98. At Castilleja School, she was the chair of the Foreign Language Department and a class advisor.