Authored by Camille Lipford Seals ’02, Director of the Aspire Program of Hathaway Brown and the Center for Multicultural Affairs. Camille is headed to Agnes Irwin School in Philadelphia where she will assume the role of Assistant Head for Academic Programs and Inclusive Excellence.
I am pleased to pass the torch of Aspire leadership to Arianne Thomas. She has the energy, knowledge, and passion necessary to envision the future of Aspire. As I prepare to say goodbye at the end of summer in my current role as director, it was very important to me that Hathaway Brown find a leader who understands and loves Aspire in truly authentic ways.
Arianne is this leader; she is committed to our mission of cultivating academic excellence and leadership in promising middle school girls and to inspire young people to pursue careers in education. She has the background, skills, and knowledge to implement our new strategic plan which will guide Aspire through the next seven years of programming and most importantly, she has the heart for Aspire girls.
“At Aspire, I want to empower students and teachers by creating a community that embraces high expectations and helps enable students to develop critical thinking and adaptability skills that will be important in future society,” said Arianne.
I have known Arianne since her first summer at Aspire and it has been a tremendous pleasure to watch her grow as a leader and educator. She has remained connected to the program, serving in multiple roles as a teacher, program leader, year-round volunteer, and member of the admission committee. She has also maintained relationships with many of the students she served during her summers as a teacher.
“Her willingness to engage with 12-year-old me with unconditional empathy completely changed my thinking about teachers — compassion from educators should not be novelty, but instead the standard,” said an Aspire alumna when asked about Arianne. “I was lucky to have been a student in Ms. Thomas’ classroom. The woman I am today is significantly shaped by the energy and safety she brought to her classroom every day for six weeks.”
I am excited to see what is in store for Aspire under Arianne’s leadership. I am confident she, in partnership with Brittany Harrison, who will continue to serve as Aspire’s administrative assistant, will successfully take the program into this next chapter.
I hope you join me in congratulating Arianne on her appointment and that you will commit to partnering with her to continue the outstanding work of the Aspire Program of Hathaway Brown School.
More about Arianne
Arianne is a New Orleans native. She earned her elementary education from a Louisiana all-girls school before moving to Northeast Ohio and attending Orange City Schools. She completed her bachelor’s degree at The Ohio State University majoring in History with minors in Geography and Political Science. Arianne joined the Teach for America program as a middle school English, Language Arts, and Geography teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma at a school where more than half of students were English language learners and more than 88 percent of students in the district qualified for free or reduced lunch.
In Tulsa, Arianne was a team lead, responsible for supervising sixth-grade teachers, setting policies, developing schedules, and cultivating grade-level culture. She also was an instructional leader for Teach for America corps, facilitating professional development experiences focused on instructional excellence, and serving as a coach in Teach for America’s Tulsa summer institute. Arianne has also worked with students and families as a transition team lead, helping students identify and transition to top magnet junior high schools.
Arianne served for three years as a teacher in Oklahoma before venturing to New York City to pursue a Master of Arts in Urban Educational Leadership at Columbia University Teachers College.
Arianne summarizes her education philosophy using the adage, “give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.” She seeks to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences that allow them to rise above life’s challenges to lead in their homes, on their campus, in their communities, and in their workplace. She is also passionate about the work of teacher training in which she seeks to cultivate culturally competent educators who understand how to build a curriculum relevant to students, develop positive relationships, set consistently high expectations, reflect on their practice, and help students develop and apply critical thinking and other competencies necessary to thrive in the 21st century.
Arianne’s practice of educational leadership is rooted in the core values of community, excellence, reflection, compassion & empathy, social justice, and knowledge. She recognizes her own identity as a member of a diverse school community where she believes the intentional building of relationships with families, students and staff is a priority and listening to the stories of the community is paramount to her success as a leader.