When John Evans was hired as head of school for Village School last spring, little did he think that the beginning of the 2020-21 school year would be one of social distancing, virtual learning and applying for school waivers.
He has faced all these challenges and on November 17, Village School obtained a waiver from L.A. County to allow in-classroom instruction for transitional kindergarten through second grade.
Still, Evans’ mission for the school has not changed. “I want Village to be THE school on the Westside to go to. I want us to seek out ways to be more active in the world of social justice and service learning.
“This community is strong, it is powerful, it has means,” Evans said. “I want Village to be significantly on the map as a school that celebrates every child it welcomes and pushes them to be smart, active, kind citizens of the world.”
Evans, who grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, relocated from New York City to L.A. with his husband, Bill, and adopted daughter, Dylan Rose, who now attends Archer School for Girls.
This represents a homecoming of sorts for Evans. After graduating from Miami University in Ohio with a bachelor’s degree in theater, he attended Loyola Marymount University for graduate school elementary education and literacy.
He began his teaching career at The Willows Community School, while spending seven years as an associate professor of education at Loyola Marymount working within the Teach for America program.
“I really enjoyed bringing practical, on-the-ground experience to young, aspiring, fresh-out-of-college leaders in education,” Evans said. “It wasn’t always the case that everyone wanted a career in teaching/administration, but I feel I made a difference in their lives — simply sharing about the power of teaching young children.”
When Evans and his husband adopted their daughter, they decided to move to the East Coast to be closer to family. “This gave our girl the opportunity to establish formative and significant relationships with her cousins and other relatives,” Evans said. “It was also very helpful to have grandmothers and aunts nearby — the women always show up!”
In New York City, Evans worked as a curriculum coordinator, diversity coordinator and third-grade teacher with Trinity School, an independent, preparatory, co-educational school for grades K-12.
After six years there, he then took a position as Lower School Head with Friends Seminary, also a K-12 school in New York.
On its website, the school notes: “The Society of Friends is founded in the Quaker belief in the inner Light – that of God in every person and that truth emerges as new voices are heard and incorporated in our understanding.”
Evans was asked about his experience at Friends.
“Working in a Quaker school taught me many things,” he said. “The most profound being the power of silence and unhurried reflection. Less about God, more about the individual and bringing folks together.
“Being a part of a school with such a strong commitment to diversity and social justice helped me to solidify my personal goals and act with integrity in my leadership,” Evans said. “Kids at Friends know how to listen to one another. They know how to make space for differing opinions and honor the other persons’ inherent dignity.”
The move from New York City back to Los Angeles this summer not only allowed Evans to become head of school, it enabled him to pursue favorite outdoor pursuits. “I am a nature guy. I love the ocean and open water swimming. Hiking is what keeps my 22-year relationship alive. It was a homecoming. I love California. I feel at peace here.”
Growing up, Evans was an avid reader and loved to write, but when he became a teacher, “Math became my favorite subject to teach.”
Teaching was a natural for him, because “I grew up with an incredible mother who was an elementary art teacher turned high school science teacher. My grandmother was a school psychologist and worked on the Southside of Chicago, then in the Florida Unified School District [in Jacksonville, Florida].”
When asked what he likes best about Village School, his answer was quick: “Village has a strong, diverse and highly competent faculty and they truly care about teaching and learning.”