You Have Advantages. The Lab School Reveals Your Strengths.
Families, Friends, and Prospective Families,
A Head of School’s days are jam-packed and ever-changing. No two days are alike, and no day winds up exactly as you planned.
But one thing is constant about my days as Lab’s Head: I am continually impressed by the caliber, capacity, and character of our students. Not a day goes by without a student teaching me something I never knew before, challenging me to think in new ways and approach my work with new insights.
Challenge, revelation, collaboration, reflection, revision, production: these are crucial ingredients in Lab School’s approach to education – the same steps with which visual artists and performers approach their art. Using art as a gateway to rigorous academics, we recognize our student’s potential, identify their strengths, approach their “differences” as advantages, and reveal the tangible ways in which their unorthodox approach to learning positions them for the demands of our 21st-century society.
Our students learn differently and that means that some skills like reading and spelling are harder to acquire. You may worry that this puts them at a disadvantage. I, on the other hand, believe that learning differently can be an advantage. My greatest joy is seeing each student’s advantages flourish into highly valued strengths with the help of Lab’s extraordinary education.
Head of School
“At Lab, we value that your brain works differently. We’re firm believers in the value of brain diversity” – Katherine Schantz, Head of School
Head of School
Kalamazoo College - B.A.
Harvard University - Ed.M.
In 2009, the Board of Trustees of The Lab School of Washington appointed Katherine Schantz as Head of School, succeeding the school’s late founder and director, Sally L. Smith. Ms. Schantz brings a wealth of qualifications that make her uniquely suited to steer Lab during its next era. Since her arrival, her positive impact has been seen and felt throughout the school. In tandem with the Board, Katherine spearheaded a comprehensive Strategic Plan for Lab School, which is currently in the implementation phase. She has dramatically increased the professional development program for faculty and staff, securing the prestigious Lehman Fellowship, which funds continuing education opportunities to ensure that teachers remain lifelong learners. Global classrooms/global learning are of particular interest to Katherine; she has introduced the school’s first study abroad programs and has introduced technology and teaching methods that broaden the horizon of every student beyond the school’s DC campus. And to the delight of students as well as staff, Katherine sparked the funding and construction of the popular Common’s multi-purpose communal gathering spot.
In addition to being an accomplished professional, Katherine Schantz is an involved wife, mother, and grandmother. She and her husband, Alex Frederick, are enthusiastic sailors and appreciate the close proximity to their daughter and grandchildren in Reston. Katherine enjoys walking to work, taking her poodle, Toby, on strolls through the nearby dog-park, and curling up with a good book – anything from children’s fiction to the latest bestseller.
Education and Experience
Katherine Schantz studied Education with a concentration in Counseling and Consulting Psychology at Harvard University, earning her Master’s degree and pursuing her doctoral studies. Her undergraduate degree in Economics is from Kalamazoo College in Michigan.
From 2000-2009 Katherine was Head of School at Delaware Valley Friends School in Paoli, Pennsylvania. During her tenure, she co-authored with the school’s Board two strategic plans. She also introduced external and internal administration councils; managed a significant increase in school enrollment; refined and expanded the summer school program; enriched the fine arts department; guided renovation of the humanities wing; developed collaborations with Bryn Mawr College and People’s Light and Theatre; and cultivated significant contributions from major donors for both the annual fund and endowment.
Katherine Schantz served as Associate Head of School (1999-2000) and Academic Dean (1992-1999) at The Kildonan School in Amenia, New York, where she developed the school’s first Middle School program and coordinated community service activities. She was also called as an expert witness, testifying on behalf of school funding.
A teacher as well as an administrator, Katherine has taught psychology and language arts at the secondary school level. As a teaching fellow at Harvard she taught Developmental Neuropsychology; Children and Law; Psychological Assessment; Emotional Development; Human Motivation; Psychopathology; Psychotherapy; and Introduction to Psychology. She has also tutored high school students hospitalized for affective and eating disorders and has conducted educational assessments.
Schantz currently belongs to a consortium of heads of independent schools across the country working to develop the most effective practices and environments for students with specific learning disabilities and ADHD. Her interest and expertise is in learning from neuroscience to develop effective educational practices for students with learning disabilities and ADHD, and fostering an arts-infused educational model as access to learning and identifying significant student talents. She has spoken at educational and mental health conferences on topics including neuropsychology, learning strategies, executive functioning and preparing students with learning disabilities for college.
- “Three Levels of Learning on One Classroom” (2007): Brain is the Boss Symposium, Penn State University Great Valley Campus, Malvern, PA
- “A Strengths’ Model for Executive Functioning” (2007): National Business Officers Seminar, Delaware Valley Friends School, Paoli, PA
- “Preparing Students with Learning Differences for College” (2005): Weingarten Learning Differences Conference, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
- "Strategies for Students with Learning Differences in the Public Schools" (1999): Dutchess County Mental Health Association, Poughkeepsie, NY
- "Realistic Accommodations for Learning Differences in Traditional Schools" (1997): Small Boarding School Conference, Lynchburg, VA
- "Dynamic Interpretation of Pairs Therapy" (1987): Harvard Summer Institute, Boston, MA
- "Development of Close Relationships: Implications From Therapy With Two Early Adolescent Boys," R. Selman, B. Caplan, K. Schantz & L. Schultz, Packer & Addison (Eds.) Entering the Circle: Hermeneutic Investigation in Psychology (1989)
- Validity of Discrepancy Analysis for Identifying Learning Disabilities (1991-93): Harvard University