Meet Tabor Academy’s new Head of School
MARION — O Captain! My Captain!
Tabor Academy has a new Head of School who is excited to take the helm and guide the historic school through the coming years.
Tony Jaccaci is a seasoned school official who most recently served as the Head of School at Cincinnati Country Day School in Ohio for the last six years. Prior to his tenure in Ohio, he spent five years as the founding Executive Principal of the Secondary Division at YK Pao School in Shanghai, a hybrid Chinese and English charter school.
“My family and I are thrilled to be here,” said Jaccaci. “I’m really excited about meeting the residents of Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester and beyond. I know that Tabor is an important part of this town and I’m very excited.”
Jaccaci arrived in Marion at the end of June and will be living in the Head of School House with his wife, their black lab Meimei (“little sister” in Chinese) and rescue cat, Rhoady. While two of Jaccaci’s three sons are already in college, his youngest will attend Tabor in the fall.
Jaccaci was seemingly born for his new job. A native of New England, he was actually born at a boarding school, Phillips Academy Andover, where his parents taught at the time.
“I actually came back from the hospital to a dorm,” he said. “So, I was doomed from the start, I like to say.”
Jaccaci started his career at St. George’s School in Newport, Rhode Island where he worked for 13 years with his wife. Jaccaci wore several hats at St. George’s, acting as the head of the Chinese language and global programs, leading the summer school program, and coaching multiple sports.
Jaccaci said those experiences have prepared him and his wife well for Tabor.
“My wife was a history teacher and she was a coach and a dorm parent as well,” he said. “So, the work that faculty members do here at Tabor in terms of teaching, coaching and living in dorms, that was a responsibility that my wife and I both did to begin our careers, so we feel pretty comfortable in a setting like this — a boarding school.”
Jaccaci said that a big part of what drew him to the school was its reputation for excellence and his affinity for its pedagogy.
“I think what really attracted me to Tabor is just knowing what a wonderful school it is and what wonderful opportunities boarding school education can provide in preparing kids really well for a very complex world.”
On the subject of preparing the school for the complexities of covid, Jaccaci was confident that Tabor would be able to build on its success last year in keeping its students, faculty and community safe from the pandemic.
“I know that there were some concerns about students coming to Tabor from far away either from other states or other parts of the world, and Tabor was very good [last year] in that not one case of covid was ever transferred from the academy to the surrounding community,” he said. “So we are very proud of that and we will continue in this upcoming year to make sure that we remain vigilant about making sure our kids are safe but also that we are responsible neighbors to our community as well.”
Jaccaci said that vaccinations will be required for all students, including international students, except for those with certain medical or religious exceptions who will be required to wear masks indoors.
Tabor proceeded with in-person classes last year during the pandemic with some protections like mandatory masking, weekly testing, visitor restrictions, and reconfiguration of living and learning spaces to allow for social distancing. Fall and winter sports were also “significantly curtailed,” according to Jaccaci.
In terms of curriculum, Jaccaci said he would like to increase the school’s focus on modern issues facing the next generation like climate change, innovative technology and diversity and inclusion.
“I think that having civil discourse and really leaning into difficult discussions are important. So for example, around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, that’s something that’s very important in education now,” he said. “So structuring conversations around challenging topics that we really need to talk about but doing it in a way that will be respectful and opening ears and minds to other points of view.”
He also said that he would like to explore ways of creating more diversity within Tabor’s student body, part of which will come down to cost.
“You know, Tabor is a fabulous school for kids but it’s also expensive,” he said. “So, I’m trying to think about ways to make it accessible to as wide a group of people as possible, from a diverse background. I really believe that the best learning happens with the most diverse group of learners together in the classroom.”
Jaccaci added that diversity should be thought of through socioeconomic status as well as through race, ethnicity and nationality.
Before he can do all of that, though, Jaccaci needs to get acquainted with Tabor and the community around it.
“For me it’s coming back, getting to know the school, determining the way that I can best serve the students and give them the best student experience possible,” he said. “But then also thinking about ways that we can continue to grow and adapt the curriculum to take great advantage of the location of the school here in Marion and on Sippican Harbor.”
Jaccaci praised the school’s relationship with sailing and the harbor as one of the great things about Tabor that make it uniquely appealing for many students.
“Sports are a really important part of a good education and I think that the unique watersports here at Tabor really give the school a very special opportunity for students, whether they’re expert sailors or rowers or whether they’ve never done it before,” he said.
Jaccaci said that he rowed a little in college but referred to himself as an “amateur sailor and rower at best.”
“I might hop into a sailboat or a rowboat as well myself,” he said, “so people in town might see me sail by and if I’m waving, if they might give me a hand, that would be great.”