Courtney Ulmer: Making it All Happen

As we find ourselves in new and challenging times, we are especially grateful for those faculty members behind the scenes, who support and inspire our community every day. This is notably true over the past few weeks for Courtney Ulmer, Assistant Head of School for Academics. As Head of School Cathy McGehee expressed, “I believe that our faculty were more ready than many faculty around the country to pivot and adapt their lessons to online learning because we have a philosophy and practice of being flexible to meet students where they are, and because they know they have Courtney to support them.”
Every year, Courtney Ulmer formats the daily schedule and does a significant portion of the calendar planning. Tasks she typically does methodically and over months, she suddenly adapted and completed to near-perfection in a few days. Kristine Varney, Director of STEM Education, summarizes Courtney’s approach perfectly: “She is very flexible and understands when we need to make changes, and I appreciate that she puts the person first, taking into account their personal well-being over everything else.”

Courtney’s consideration for others is especially evident in Foxcroft’s blend of synchronous and asynchronous class time. Over the past few weeks, students have had time to come together as a class, and a community, but also have had assignments and work independent of these gatherings. This style of schedule acknowledges our valued time together as a school, but also that some of our students may be whole continents and time zones apart. 

Patty Boswell, the Registrar, works with Courtney closely every day and has great admiration for her commitment and passion for Foxcroft. “Her work ethic is unmatched, but, more than that she is compassionate, empathetic, and a great role model. I have learned so much from her over the years and I am so grateful for her willingness to give her all in any situation.” Patty also went on to speak about how Courtney’s steadfastness has helped guide us through this time of transition, “The current situation we find ourselves in is a great example of her ability to problem solve, think outside of the box, and not get ruffled as we work through this. She supports our students in every possible way that she can — she will meet them where they are and get them to the best place possible!”

We have always known that Courtney is a creative problem-solver, a critical thinker, and a deeply caring individual — the past few weeks of adapting to distance learning have only emphasized these traits. In praising Courtney’s deep appreciation and commitment to pedagogy, Cathy says,“Courtney has worked hard over her tenure as Assistant Head for Academics to build a faculty culture of collaboration and continuous professional development by encouraging our teachers to stretch themselves, take risks in the classroom, and explore new teaching strategies with the goal of supporting deep learning and each individual student's success. Courtney, herself, models a growth mindset, challenging herself to take courses about teaching, learning and leading, all of which have prepared Foxcroft to adapt to the challenges the coronavirus has brought us.” 

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An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.