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Head of The Langley School Retires After 13 Years

Retiring head Doris Cottam (right) with the new head Dr. Elinor Scully.

Retiring head Doris Cottam (right) with the new head Dr. Elinor Scully. Photo contributed

This month, Doris Cottam will retire from her position as head of school at The Langley School, an independent school in McLean serving nearly 500 students in preschool to eighth grade. During her 13 years as head of school, Cottam transformed The Langley School financially, strategically, programmatically and culturally into a professional, sustainable model for the 21st century—all while embracing and maintaining the school’s community-based roots. When she retires at the end of June, she will leave behind a legacy of growth and financial stability that will successfully propel Langley into its eighth decade.

Among her most significant accomplishments, Cottam guided the school through two strategic plans that served as powerful, long-range change agents and positioned Langley for the future. Under her leadership, Langley developed a new mission statement, philosophy of teaching and “Community Contract”; created its first-ever comprehensive, published curriculum with scope and sequence; developed a model assistant teacher training program; expanded the junior kindergarten program; added new offerings to the curriculum such as Chinese and strings; and enhanced the school’s global outreach to include an international eighth grade trip to Costa Rica.

Cottam was also instrumental in growing the school’s parent association, reaching a current enrollment of 500 students, the largest in school history, and securing solid financial footing. Under her fiscal leadership, Langley improved campus facilities with the opening of the Solomon Athletic Center and the construction of the Jeffrey J. Sherman Arts Center, the Gleason Turf Athletic Field, and the Security & Facilities Gatehouse, as well as Langley’s new middle school building, which is currently under construction and will be named in Cottam’s honor when it opens in 2014.

DURING HER TENURE, Cottam promoted and supported community, respect and diversity in all its forms and encouraged the development of service learning opportunities for Langley students both locally and globally. She fostered a community of lifelong learners and fully supported professional development opportunities for faculty and staff.

An educator and administrator at schools around the country for more than 30 years, Cottam is a well-respected leader who has impacted education at both regional and national levels. For the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington (now named Independent Education), she served as president of the Board of Trustees and treasurer and chair of the Finance Committee. She also served as chair of the Accreditation Committee and as secretary of the Board for the Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS), and as treasurer of the Elementary School Heads Association’s (ESHA) Executive Committee.

DR. ELINOR SCULLY will assume the role of Langley’s next head of school beginning July 1. An experienced educator with a national reputation in the field of childhood and adolescent development, Dr. Scully most recently served as associate head of National Cathedral School in Washington.