Leathers takes on ‘best job in the world’

New Eugene McDermott Head of School Dr. Laura Leathers breaks down nuances of role


Dr. Laura Leathers speaks at a Hockaday evening event.

Aadya Kuruvalli

Jan.1 wasn’t just the beginning of a new year – it was the beginning of a new chapter for Hockaday. The first day of 2023 saw Dr. Laura Leathers officially begin working as the Eugene McDermott Head of School. Although the search process began in the spring of 2022, an official successor for Dr. Karen Warren Coleman wasn’t found until December.

“This is something that’s been kind of an aspirational goal,” Leathers said. “I came to Hockaday in June of 2020 and quickly fell in love with the community, our students, our faculty and staff, and really the high academic standards that are in place here.” 

Although her love of Hockaday was quick to form, it was spending time at the school that truly convinced her that the Head of School job was one she wanted to pursue.

“As I got to know more and more people, it was just as a fabulous community and an exceptional school and it was an exciting opportunity to pursue the Head of School job here,” Leathers said.

When she was selected for the position, Leathers had been working as the Interim Head of School since July 1. 

“There hasn’t been much difference in the jobs I did as the Interim head compared to now,” Leathers said. “The one change is that now I feel like we can plan for more long term projects and set some goals that I know I’ll be around to implement.”

Although Leathers’ daily duties include planning for Hockaday’s future, she also takes time out of her day to engage with students. Currently, she is teaching a section of chemistry. 

“It’s my plan to continue to teach a section of chemistry going forward,” Leathers said. “I love that part of my job because I get to interact with our students and get to know a small subset of our student population in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise. I get to see girls on good days and on bad days, when they are stressed and when they’re excited about something.”

Leathers’ favorite part of her job isn’t just interacting with students or attending meetings, but rather a combination of them. She said she enjoys the versatility being Head of School offers. 

“No two days look the same,” Leathers said.

Compared to her previous role as Assistant Head of Academic Affairs, the Head of School position allows her more variety.

 “Most of my old work focused on the academic experience here at Hockaday and it was integrated within the leadership team, but not as integrated with the rest of the school,” Leathers said. 

Outside of her chemistry class, Leathers also makes time to support Daisies at extracurriculars. 

“I love seeing our girls at sporting events and seeing them working hard together outside of the classroom,” Leathers said. 

Leathers also collaborates with other school leaders to create the best possible environment for students.

Leathers helps Karla Cervantes ’23 and Aurora Dunn ’23 in her chemistry class.

“As Head of School, I love to work with our leadership team to talk about strategic schoolwork,” Leathers said. “That is really exciting when we think about how to best prepare our girls for the future. When I get to do that with other smart school administrators who are passionate about what they do, it’s a pretty magical space and magical conversations happen.”

Beyond Upper School, Dr. Leathers also engages with Middle and Lower School Daisies as well as parents and guests.

“On Jan. 11, I started my morning in Lower School at Rotunda Rocks, so we were singing and dancing and the girls were in pre-Kindergarten,” Leathers said. “Seeing that age group enjoy each other’s company and celebrate each other’s birthdays and be excited about their day was very rewarding.”

Leathers also was preparing for school events on the same evening.

“Tonight we have a speaker on campus, so I get to introduce our speaker to the parents and hear someone talk about a lot of the stresses that girls are facing these days,” Leathers said. “Then I get to go to an alumni board dinner event.” 

During the course of a given day, Leathers may interact with students from all divisions, faculty and staff, the leadership team, parents and alumni.

“I feel like the variety of the interactions, the excitement that’s here on campus, and simply getting to spend time with all of the different sections of our population makes Hockaday a pretty special place and I’m excited for the work we can do in the future,” Leathers said. “I feel like I have the best job in the world.”