As associate head of school, Terry has worked on the school’s strategic plans, master plans, capital campaigns, accreditations, and committees and task forces, including arts, athletics, buildings and grounds, communications and marketing, endowment, exchange programs, expansion, finance, financial aid, gap year, global citizen, nutrition, outreach, teacher evaluation, and technology. Terry has also coached cross-country, advised student council, advised and mentored students, and helped develop new exchange and trip programs, summer programs, and teacher training institutes. He regularly works with afterschool and summer programs, athletics, facilities and operations, finance, food services, global programs, government and community relations, hiring, human resources, legal, outreach, partnerships, technology, transportation, and each of Nueva’s divisions and departments.
Terry serves on the boards of the Nueva School, the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, and the California Independent Schools Business Officers Association, as well as the Trails and Paths and Open Space Acquisition Advisory Committees of the Town of Portola Valley. Previously, Terry was an entrepreneur, investor, corporate officer, banker, consultant, coach, and teacher. Terry graduated from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, the University of Washington — Seattle, and the Early Entrance Program / Transition School. He also completed fellowship studies at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques Paris and at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Public Policy.
1. We heard that during one of your first visits to Nueva you were inspired by a poetry slam you saw here. Can you tell us a bit more about that experience?
On my first visit to Nueva, we saw a school assembly in the GCC. Third graders marched one by one up onto the stage and presented and read their original poetry to an audience that appeared to be the whole school. I recall their work being as varied as the students themselves, from form (sonnet, limerick, haiku, free verse) to presentation (pen, pencil, crayon, print, cursive, computer-printed, illustrated or not) to delivery (quick, lingering, theatrical, reserved, booming, a whisper). I remember thinking what a brave thing for every child to present their personal selves and work to all and how interesting for all to be enthusiastically appreciated. What an interesting place and people these must be.
2. How has your work as a coach informed your work at the school?
Coaching is teaching. It’s hard work and good work. Imagining, aspiring, planning, organizing, executing, adjusting, and assessing. Inspiring, communicating, listening, leading, managing, serving, nudging, learning, and empowering. Coaching was year-round for a dozen years of overlapping seasons that felt like fourteen months in a year. We had as many as two hundred fifty athletes each season and worked with as many as five paid staff and a volunteer staff of over twenty-five. We trained every week and weekend, rain or shine, and had goal events locally, nationally, and internationally. The athletes ranged from teenagers to retirees, high school and collegiate athletes to first-timers, and included future Boston qualifiers and hundred-milers. We realized significant continuity in paid and volunteer staff and had many returning athletes. We made some of our best friends among the hundreds of colleagues we worked with and still run into folks we coached years later in unexpected places who remember our time and experiences together. There is no better feeling than hearing “Coach Terry!?” in a happy voice. Coaching and Nueva remind me of many of the same things — shared values, community, learning, adversity, accomplishment, personal stories, team and individual, why we come together and how much we experience and accomplish together versus apart, the importance of meaning in our lives, and why having fun makes everything better.
3. Your office is filled with interesting artifacts, both familial and professional. Would you mind choosing one, describing it, and telling us a bit about its significance to you?
OMG. Impossible to choose one. I love the arts, whether it’s some lyrics to “Imagine” in script on the wall (does that require explanation?), the colorful mobiles hanging from the ceiling (because they were banished for some still inexplicable reason from the house), or the Sebastiao Salgado images from Genesis (documenting the remarkable world around us). I’m madly in love with my children, thus the ridiculous and unrestrained number of photos. I love running and my pictures, including the image of our headlamps (mine and my pacer’s) as we forded the American River in the dark near mile eighty of the Western States 100, which remind me that I was once young and strong. But maybe I’ll tell you about the model airplanes from my father. My father and mother were refugees from China and immigrants from Taiwan who came to the United States to advance their education. We wouldn’t be here if they had not had the courage to leave their country, families, culture, language, and everything. We never forget how fortunate we are to be here. My father was an electrical engineer by training and helped manage development of avionics systems for Boeing’s commercial airplanes. Later, because he was a lifelong learner himself, he transitioned to sales and sold the airplanes he helped design. A tradition in commercial airplane sales is that everyone on a deal team, seller and buyer, gets a replica of the plane sold/bought. My models are of two of the planes my dad sold. They remind me of being brave and bold. If they were at home, they would not survive the well-intentioned but sometimes destructive play of our children and cats.
4. Besides the development of the Communications office, of course, what has been a favorite initiative at Nueva over the years?
One of my favorite things at Nueva is helping recruit and retain colleagues, families, and students. I love meeting interesting people, listening and learning from and with them, and sharing Nueva to find matches and explore and realize experiences and opportunities together.
5. We know you are currently helping to lead the creation of the next strategic plan. Can you articulate your thinking process in regard to the development of this initiative?
Actually, our whole community — students, parents, faculty, staff, administrators, and the board — are leading the creation of the next strategic plan. The plan is truly a reflection of our collective best thinking. The plan committee is facilitating the process of assembling, interpreting, and synthesizing convergent and divergent thinking into a coherent whole, grounded by our mission and values with students at the center and reflecting our community’s limitless aspirations and optimism.