UPPER WEST SIDE — The Mandell School will have a new leader after its longtime head announced she is stepping down.
Head of School Gabriella Rowe said she is leaving the post after 15 years, with Associate Head of School Richard Brown taking her place.
Rowe, 48, is the granddaughter of the pre-K through eighth grade school's founder, Max Mandell.
She's leaving for Houston, Texas, in June, where she'll be the new head of a pre-K through 12th grade private school. Rowe is a lifelong New Yorker, and the family business has been a huge part of her life, she said.
"My getting out of the way was the final step to independence," she said, adding that her departure means "being able to tell parents and faculty that Mandell stands for something beyond [my] family."
The school has expanded in recent years, opening a new location Downtown to serve 180 preschoolers.
While Rowe said her move from the 75-year-old school is "bittersweet," she said that Brown, 60, shares her values. He has served as interim head of the middle school and then as associate head of school for the past three years.
His takeover, which will be permanent, "allows me to ride off into the sunset with a big smile on my face," Rowe said.
Brown is a trustee at the Darrow School in upstate New York, where he also taught history and was the dean of faculty. He previously lived for many years in Massachusetts, where he was head of the middle school at Williston Northampton School, dean of faculty and assistant head of school at the Berkshire School, and administrative director of the Conway School, an environmental design graduate school.
He was also interim head of school at the Indian Mountain School in Connecticut.
"I so believe in this place that I feel it’s really a question of stewardship," Brown said.
Specifically, he said he valued The Mandell School's focus on project-based learning and seeing students as individuals, as well as the school's commitment to service and giving back to the community.
"Certainly there’s sadness that Gaby is leaving," Brown said, "but schools have to [be] self-confident and the self-confidence has to extend beyond any one person."