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The joy of Headmaster’s Day permeated the crowd of students, faculty, staff, family and friends on Friday, May 11. Special recognition was paid to McDonogh’s “awesome” retiring headmaster, Charlie Britton, and the staff of the Legacy yearbook dedicated the 100th edition to him. Cormac Callanan ‘18, President of the Senior SGA, shared the following remarks as a tribute to Charlie:
Good morning. It is my great privilege to take a moment today to help honor our Headmaster, Mr. Britton. As many of you know, after serving McDonogh faithfully for the past 11 years, he is retiring.
Mr. Britton, perhaps you have noticed the “Awesome” new additions to our blazers! Will you please come forward and allow me to present you with a button? Thank you for your hard work in developing the vision for the campus master plan and making the beautiful buildings a reality. But thank you most of all for building our character and teaching us how to show up in the world with courage, compassion, and integrity. We, your students, are proud to be your greatest legacy. We will carry the lessons you’ve taught us far beyond these 800 acres. And so, it seems altogether fitting that your legacy be captured not in bricks and mortar, but in the words of your students in our yearbook titled The Legacy. Now, I’d like to invite the yearbook co-editors-in-chief, Raina Dubin and Lily Reddish to present the 2018 Legacy Dedication.
A One of a Kind Legacy
Authentic, humble, ethical, honest, and energetic are just some of the words used to describe this year’s Legacy dedicatee, Headmaster Charles W. Britton. The theme of the 100th edition of our yearbook is Legacy of the Legacy, so it is only fitting that we chose Mr. Britton as this year’s recipient.
Since arriving at McDonogh School in 2007 as the twelfth Headmaster, Mr. Britton has led the school through various new programs and initiatives while maintaining the school’s historic tradition and mission. As he retires at the close of the 2017-2018 school year, the McDonogh community is recognizing Mr. Britton’s awesome leadership.
Howard Klein '76, President of the Board of Trustees, says, “People will remember the ‘Britton years’ as the decade when he raised $80M, doubled our commitment to all forms of financial aid, and launched the Campus Master Plan with the construction of the Edward St. John Student Center, the Naylor STEM Building, the Rosenberg Campus Green, the Fader Innovation Center, 38 new faculty townhomes, and hosts of other improvements. But, what sets Charlie apart is his student-first orientation.”
Mr. Britton is often seen greeting students on the bus lot, throwing a football, or picking up bits of trash on campus. Favorite memories from students include him dressing up on Halloween, sliding down the slip-and-slide during Lower School Aquapalooza, dancing at the holiday assembly, and stopping in his office for candy. But what students will most remember about Mr. Britton is how welcome he made them feel. “Mr. Britton knows everyone’s name. No matter how busy he is, he always takes the time to stop and ask you how you’re doing,” says Abby Fish ’19.
Prior to coming to McDonogh School, Mr. Britton worked at several other schools with roles as an English teacher, coach, dorm parent, division head, and headmaster. With these experiences under his belt, Mr. Britton was ready to lead McDonogh as head of school. “Charlie really admired the people and unique culture that McDonogh had to offer, and he wanted to take on the challenge of moving McDonogh forward,” says Arthur Adler ’78, President of the Board of Trustees from 2013-2017.
Under Mr. Britton’s tenure, the school has added many new programs which are part of the LifeReady learning initiative, such as robotics, engineering, debate, neuroscience, and Chinese. Among the most notable additions was the creation of Roots Farm and the opening of the prekindergarten. Through his leadership, the boarding program increased by 50% and the enrollment by 10%. English teacher Wright Abbot says, “What sticks with me is how hard he works and how hard he pushes himself to be a better head of school. He listens very well and actually wants to hear criticism so that he can improve, which has been inspirational to me.”
Those who have worked with Mr. Britton note how his hard-working qualities have greatly contributed to his achievements as head of school. Associate Headmaster Brad Shelley says, “He is unquestionably one of the great heads of school. McDonogh has blossomed over the past 11 years and it is because of Charlie’s dedication and leadership. He is truly one of a kind.”