By Sarah Kuper
A lot can change in 40 years. But at The Altamont School, there has been one constant: Sarah Whiteside.
Whiteside has served as head of the private school for 10 years, but she was first hired in 1978 as a part-time Latin teacher. She then taught Latin full-time for more than 20 years.
Whiteside announced her plans to retire after the 2018 school year.
The Altamont School enrolls students in fifth- through 12th-grade and still teaches students Latin.
“There are two full-time Latin teachers at the school now – I had them both as pupils years ago,” Whitehead said.
Over the years, Whitehead wore many hats at the school. Then in 2007, she was tapped as interim head and assumed the position permanently later that year. Whiteside stipulated that she would head the school for 10 years.
Brantley Fry, president of the Altamont board of trustees said in a statement that under Whiteside’s leadership, “The school has grown to full enrollment, with waiting lists in some grades, and annually places its graduates in the nation’s top colleges and universities.”
Whiteside acknowledges that the school is in a very strong position but she credits her colleagues as well.
“The faculty is truly outstanding and dedicated to helping students be successful and discover their passions and interest,” she said, “we are very committed to offering students the best prep for college and life. We have a strong curriculum across all areas.”
Whiteside said she is also grateful for the dedicated parents, grandparents and alums who continue to support the school even after graduation.
The Altamont School will begin a nationwide search led by board of trustees Vice President Mike Denniston. The board plans to hire a search firm by mid-March.
Whiteside wrote a letter to Altamont family and friends explaining her feelings on retirement – a word she does not believe accurately describes her departure.
“When I looked up the word ‘retirement’ I decided that it was not the right word to use because I do not plan to do any of those things listed in the meaning – withdraw, disappear, go away. Altamont is in my blood and in my soul,” she wrote.
Indeed, Whiteside said she plans to substitute in Latin classes and attend school events and sporting competitions.
She is also excited to travel to many of the places that inspired her passion for Latin and the classics such as Greece, Rome and Provence.
Whiteside will lead the school one more academic year while the board conducts its search.
Celebrations honoring Whiteside will take place in the coming months. For more information on the head of school search visit altamontschool.org.