The Legacy of Head of School Peter Becker

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By Alex Johnson ’23

On November 29, 2022 the Frederick Gunn School announced that the 2022-23 school year would be Mr. Becker’s last as Head of School at the Frederick Gunn School. Mr. Becker, a graduate of Taft, has taken the opportunity to return as head of school of his alma mater. We’re sad to see him go but are excited for where his future takes him.

Before Gunn, Mr. Becker worked as a teacher at Lawrenceville for nine years. He coached, taught, was a dorm parent, but he had never worked in school administration before. When asked about how he got the job of head of school he exclaimed, “I faked it!” Mr. Becker, not having any school administration experience before, had to be as clear as possible about what he knew and what he did not. Upon taking the job, Mr. Becker recounts, “I learned a lot every day, there was a lot of making it up as I went along.” When Mr. Becker arrived there were many projects underway. The South Street field complex was being built, as was college counseling, and the school was acquiring additional properties around campus. One of the crazier memories of being head of school was sitting in the Connecticut Supreme Court after the school was sued over the right to develop the South Street property. Mr. Becker discussed some of his favorite memories, some being great arts performances, as well as the great athletic moments. Many of the New England championships won while Mr. Becker was head of school were especially iconic. Another favorite memory of Mr. Becker’s was when a group of alumni was tipped off as to the Stray Shot’s location. At that point, it had not been found in 10-15 years. In January, the group of alumni thawed the ground with boiling water and dug up the Stray Shot behind the rink and presented it during a school meeting.

During Mr. Becker’s tenure as head of school he presided over many large changes. For example, the construction of TPACC and the construction of the new science building, which have significantly impacted the success of our campus. Plus, there have been many renovations to almost all of the buildings on campus. One of the most memorable changes was switching from the Gunnery to the Frederick Gunn School. Mr. Becker hoped that by doing this, “history will show that while significant in the moment, it was not only the right thing to do, but it was about getting the model and vision of Frederick Gunn and Abigail Gunn out in front of the school.” 

For the next head of school Mr. Becker provides some advice, “Stay close to the founders, be a source of inspiration and creativity. Love this place for what it is and everything that it can be, never stop pursuing Mr. Gunn’s ideal of a school. And finally lean on the great colleagues around you. And have fun!” As Mr. Becker leaves he believes that The Frederick Gunn School is one of the greatest boarding schools in the world, has the best founding story, and one of the most distinct campuses. Mr. Becker will miss everything about the school and hopes to remain connected in the future. We wish Mr. Becker all the best and thank him for his hard work and dedication to the school!

Photo courtsey Smug Mug Galleries

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