Leading by Example
Every weekday morning,
Fran Lukens greets the students of St. Anne's Day School at the
front door. As the head of the school, she wants every child to
feel as if it "mattered that he or she came every day." She welcomes
each of the 350 students by name, not an easy task for those of
us who have difficulty remembering names. In this close-knit community,
Lukens strives to "change the world, one child at a time," her
dream for the school.
Anne's Day School, an independent, co-educational Episcopal school,
educates students from preschool through 8th grade. The school's
mission states that the students develop "courage, will, spirit
and knowledge," a favorite excerpt of Lukens from the Episcopal
prayer book. Since she became the director in 1988, Lukens has
made significant contributions to the evolution of the school,
including the addition of grades and the creation of the school
building on Arundel on the Bay Road in Annapolis. Ellen Kelly,
the middle school head, describes Lukens as a "wonderful role
model for our community" and especially admires her "plethora
of creative ideas."
interest in education began during her childhood growing up in
the Philadelphia area. She remembers, "I was one of those kids
who played school all of the time. In fact, in elementary school,
I used to live in a neighborhood that was heavily populated with
baby boomer kids like me. And, when I came home from school, I
would have an after-school preschool on my front porch. All of
the little toddlers would come follow me, and I thought that was
really fun." Lukens was most intrigued by her own fifth grade
class, where her vision for St. Anne's began to take shape. Her
teacher developed a curriculum that allowed students to become
active members of the learning process, rather than recipients
of knowledge handed down from the teacher. As she grew up, Lukens
wouldn't forget thinking, "this is the way school should be."
While teaching was always in the back of her mind, Lukens pursued
other interests in college. At Connecticut College for Women (now
Connecticut College), a small liberal arts institution in New
London, Lukens majored in French with a minor in government. Lukens
adds, "But, by the end of college, I knew that teaching was what
I wanted to do." In 1971, Lukens married her husband Bill and
began a new life with him in Annapolis. After obtaining her master's
in education from Goucher College, she worked at various elementary
schools in Anne Arundel County until her first child was born.
St. Anne's Day School was originally established in 1960 as a
preschool and kindergarten at St. Luke's Episcopal Chapel in Eastport.
In 1980, when the school outgrew its space, it moved to St. Anne's
Church downtown, where Lukens was a parishioner. After enrolling
her eldest son in 1979, Lukens aided the school in its move. While
her children were growing up, she taught part-time at several
local schools and eventually began teaching at St. Anne's. When
the position of director opened, Lukens says, "I threw in my hat...and
became the director in 1988."
Lukens' vision for the school took shape soon after. From time
to time, parents would ask her, "Why do [our children] have to
leave after kindergarten?" Lukens shared their desire for adding
to the number of grades and began creating a feasibility study
for the growth of the school. Jim Reinig, a former parent and
founding chair of St. Anne's Day School, remembers his initial
meeting with Lukens. Reinig says, "I was completely blown away.
She was describing just the type of school that I would envision
for my children, one that I wish I could have gone to." With the
help of Reinig and other supportive individuals, Lukens expanded
the school in 1992 to offer first grade and continued to add a
grade each year.
While the student body was increasing with the addition of grades,
the space at St. Anne's Church was becoming too small for the
school. Something had to change. Lukens developed the solution-the
creation of a school building. With her team in tow, she established
the school as a separately incorporated institution in 1994. Lukens
thought, "We can devise the kind of curriculum that we think works
In September 1996, the students and staff of St. Anne's moved
into a new school building on a 10-acre property at Arundel on
the Bay Road. The second phase of building, which added a middle
school wing, music and arts classrooms, and a multipurpose room,
was completed in 1997. Lukens exclaims, "I remember when one of
our first advertisements was in the newspaper. I thought, 'My
gosh, this is really astounding because one minute we're not there,
and the next minute there's a school.'"
Now, Lukens' day may start with greeting students, but her busy
schedule includes numerous responsibilities to both her student
body and 60-member staff. As the self-proclaimed "captain of the
ship," she oversees the administrative team and manages the budget
and also makes time to "pop in and out of the classrooms."
Although Lukens has worked hard to make the school a success,
she is quick to acknowledge her helpful staff from over the years.
She says, "I really credit it to the original people who came
together. There was just so much dedication, so much intelligence,
so much vision."
When she's not at St. Anne's, Lukens serves as a member of the
Mid-Atlantic Episcopal School Association Board and the Association
of Independent Schools of Maryland Accreditation Committee. She
enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, walking,
reading and working in her garden. When asked about the future
of St. Anne's Day School, Lukens shares that "a good school is
always evolving and growing. We've developed a culture of lifelong
learning, not only for our students but also for the staff and
faculty. I see us continuing to evolve, grow and refine."
For more information on St. Anne's Day School, visit www.saintannes.org.
Peroutka, a recent graduate of Loyola College in Maryland,
lives in Annapolis and works as a full-time writer.