Grace Ann Louis
Head of School
Grace joined our faculty for 2019-2020 as our Head of Early Education and lead Snow Lion teacher. In January 2020 she stepped into her role as Head of School right before the pandemic affected our daily operations. Under Grace’s leadership, Middle Way has tripled in size and is now a thriving elementary school. Grace is known for her skill in the classroom, her warm and creative leadership, and her ability to keep all the balls in the air with style. We are so fortunate to have such an experienced and passionate Head of School.
When I became Head of School at MWS, it truly felt like the job I’d been preparing for my entire career. The contemplative philosophy, Buddhist foundation, entrepreneurial spirit, global community, and whole-child focus felt like home.
My journey as a professional educator began in New York City. After completing a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education, I joined the faculty of the International Preschool, a program that emphasizes an experiential and emergent curriculum. Later, while teaching at Snow Lion School, a contemplative preschool in Boulder, Colorado, I completed my Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Special Education. During that time I also mentored student teachers from Naropa, the first Buddhist University in the U.S., and worked with a mentor of my own, Kristen Lhatso. Coincidentally, Kristen went on to help launch Middle Way school years later – one of the many tendrils of connection that brought me to the school.
The contemplative educational model I encountered at Snow Lion School expanded my teaching philosophy and in 2007 I moved back to my hometown of Phoenicia, NY and founded Woodland Playhouse. a play-based preschool with a constructivist approach to learning, Woodland Playhouse also included summer enrichment programs for 6-12 year olds. The experience of building a school from the ground up was incredibly rewarding, and gave me the tools to eventually step into my new role at Middle Way.
In 2019-2020, I joined Middle Way as the Head of Early Education and lead Snow Lion teacher. In January 2020 I stepped into the role of Head of School right before the pandemic affected our daily operations. These past couple of years have been the most rewarding and challenging of my two decades as an educator. Our student body has tripled since I began and is supported by an incredible group of teachers and staff. With the pandemic throwing us an ever-changing obstacle course to navigate, we’ve added a new building with three beautiful classrooms and expanded through fifth grade, with a plan to grow into sixth grade in 2022-2023.
Building a school at a time of unprecedented challenges has allowed Middle Way to create an infrastructure that supports the present-day needs of students and families. During my time at Middle Way, we have deepened our anti-racist work in partnership with consultant, Amy Brown-White. All of our teachers have been trained in Responsive Classroom , which links academic success and social/emotional skills, and we have brought in a counselor from Maverick Psychotherapy Group on-site each week. We have also embarked on staff and teacher training with WiseBodies to create a positive environment for all students, and develop skills to better support our LGBTQ+ families. I especially enjoy working closely with Noa Jones to infuse the dharma in all aspects of Middle Way School, from our core academics to our lunchtime ritual to our magical community events.
I live in Phoenicia with my spouse JD and our three beautiful children, Nadou, Leroi, and Arlo, and our dog Boots.In 2020, I also joined the MWS parent community when Arlo became a Raven (soon to be an Owl!). It’s thrilling to experience first-hand the benefits of a whole-child education and the impact of this approach on my own family. In my down time, I really enjoy reading, knitting, hiking, backpacking skiing, horseback riding, and spending lots of quality time on adventures with my family.
In my dual role of parent and administrator, I remain wholeheartedly committed to the vision of this school to create a model for Buddhist Education and can’t wait to see where this wild journey takes us next.