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Buffalo Seminary names head of school

Jo Ann "Jody" Douglass, who has 20 years' experience as a teacher, counselor, dean and headmaster at private schools, has been named head of school at the Buffalo Seminary.

For the last six years, Douglass, 57, has been head of school at the George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, Maine, where she is credited with increasing annual giving and launching a program to attract international boarding students.

"I am thrilled and honored to be selected to lead Buffalo Seminary," Douglass said. "The school epitomizes what's right and strong about secondary education for girls. I am most grateful for this opportunity, and I intend to work very hard to meet all expectations."

Douglass was selected after a national search and will assume her new post July 1, said Shelley C. Drake, board chairwoman of the 155-year-old all-girls high school on Bidwell Parkway.

"We are so fortunate to attract Jody to Buffalo to lead our school," Drake said. "She brings a reputation for thoughtful innovation, an open and close relationship with her students and faculty and the sorts of ideas about education in a place like Sem that help make it so special."

Douglass had been acting headmaster at Brooks School in Andover, Mass.; director of college counseling at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Mass.; and an admissions officer at Bates and Middlebury colleges. She also spent a year as a college counselor in Beijing.

Douglass succeeds Sandra Gilmor, who has headed Buffalo Seminary since 2001. Drake credits Gilmore with leading a physical expansion of Buffalo Sem, recruiting outstanding faculty and helping to increase enrollment to 170 from 152.

Some parents, however, criticized Gilmore after the arrest last April of Malcolm M. Watson, a teacher who had sexual contact with a 15-year-old student. They said Gilmor and the school ignored previous complaints about the relationship.

Watson was fired the day after his arrest and was later sentenced to three years' probation on a guilty plea to endangering the welfare of a child and sex abuse.

Drake said Gilmore, an educator for 40 years, will retire. The change in leadership has nothing to do with the Watson controversy, Drake said.

e-mail: psimon@buffnews.com

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