Around New England

New Deerfield Academy Headmaster Led School in Jordan

September 4, 2018

The expected new headmaster of Deerfield Academy, a prestigious boarding school in western Massachusetts, most recently led a private school in Jordan established by King Abdullah II.

The two schools have close ties. The king, 56, attended Deerfield Academy as a teen-ager, graduating in 1980. He established King’s Academy in Jordan in 2007 as a home-grown counterpart to the Massachusetts school. The first headmaster of King’s Academy was a former headmaster of Deerfield Academy, Eric Widmer.

The incoming new headmaster of Deerfield, John Austin, is currently headmaster of King’s Academy.

“Our educational program represents a synthesis of the educational traditions of East and West, of the cultures and language of the Arab world and of the Anglo-American ideal of a residential boarding school committed to the virtues of respect, responsibility and leadership,” Austin writes in a message on behalf of the Middle East school. “In this way King’s Academy both honors the past and aspires to be a school of the future. Our deepest aspiration is to graduate young men and women who will shape the future of Jordan, the Middle East and the world.”

Some of Austin’s description of the Jordan school sounds familiar to observers of American private schools.

“In the belief that diversity educates in ways that formal instruction cannot, we welcome students from all socio-economic backgrounds, faiths and cultural backgrounds. Our students come from all parts of Jordan, from throughout the region and from 40 countries around the world. Over 48 percent of our students receive financial aid and our financial aid budget stands at over US $13 million,” Austin writes.

Austin is scheduled to become the 56th headmaster (now called “head of school”) of Deerfield, which was founded in 1797, in July 2019. He will succeed the current headmaster, Margarita O’Byrne Curtis.

Deerfield has about 650 students in grades 9 through 12 and a postgraduate program. It went co-ed in 1989.

Tuition and fees are a little less than $62,000 a year for boarding students for the 2018-2019 school year, and a little less than $45,000 a year for day students.

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