It didn’t take long for Peter Branch to get accustomed to his new surroundings at Rocky Hill School in East Greenwich.
And it won’t take long for both Branch and the school, itself, to feel optimistic about the future.
Branch, on July 1, became the newest Head of School at the historic private institution adjacent to Goddard Memorial Park on Ives Road – the ninth in Rocky Hill’s 79-year history – and is looking forward to overseeing the needs of every student who will roam the campus at the lower, middle and upper schools.
“It’s a terrific little school,” said Branch in a phone interview last Thursday. “What a great, great environment to learn. [Rocky Hill] is a small school. I’ve only been here for about two weeks, but it seems that everybody here is focused on the needs of every individual student and it has a very strong history of caring for students at all ranges of academic interests and abilities.”
Branch was attracted to the strong AP program that Rocky Hill provides to students, as well as the environmental science and marine biology curriculums at the institution.
However, one of the major reasons Branch accepted the position of Head of School was because Rocky Hill has a significant benefit of being a small independent school and the students have the strong ability to participate in a wide range of activities and be successful in the arts, as well as in academics and athletics.
“It’s something that is hard to do at a big school where you have to focus on one thing and one thing only,” Branch says.
According to Rocky Hill’s website, Branch has 34 years of experience as head of several independent schools and has “tremendous, proven experience in all areas of school life, and is eager to share his knowledge and leadership in nonprofit finance, college guidance, fundraising, educational philosophy, admissions, organizational leadership and faculty development.”
Branch, as noted on the Rocky Hill website, served as head of Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C. from 1996 through 2011. He also successfully led Holland Hall in Tulsa, Okla. from 1985 to 1996, and Lawrence Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, N.Y. from 1977 to 1985. Branch, according to the website was most recently the executive director of the Washington Ballet, where he used his skills in nonprofit management to advance the organization.
“We are fortunate to have someone with Peter Branch’s experience leading us,” said Rocky Hill School board of trustees president, Edwin J. Santos, as stated on the Rocky Hill website. “This is a very important step in the evolution of Rocky Hill School.”
In his time at Georgetown Day School, Branch says the school made to major capital improvements, such as renovating both the lower and middle school campuses and high school campus. He also stated Georgetown Day School – which was the first integrated school, public or private, in Washington, D.C. – did a lot of work around diversity issues and multicultural breakdown.
“That was a big aspect in what we did,” Branch says.
Branch believes that Rocky Hill has “wonderful” facilities, but feels there’s more that the school could attend to. He hopes the institution can get into the mode of going forward of both strategic education and strategic facilities plan that the board and community has put in place.
“I have a feeling that Rocky Hill is a little bit of a hidden gem here,” he says. “I like to get the word out more to the community and to other individuals in the state about the opportunities that exist here for students and their families.”
For more information on Rocky Hill School, log on to www.rockyhill.org .