The Interview

Maggie Boyd, Staff Writer

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“Get to Know Your Principal” – Mr. Wheelock Interview


Why did you choose Ursuline Academy?

I attended UA as a boy, kindergarten through 3rd grade. Coming back here seemed a good way to wrap up my long career in independent schools. In addition, when I talked to Dr. Medeiros about what she was doing here at UA, I was excited. When I visited and met with faculty and students, I was impressed by the strong sense of community and the aspirations of the school. I enjoy helping schools get better.

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming year?

Becoming part of that community, getting to know girls and teachers, and helping the focus on teaching and learning. Every school needs to feel the need to get better, and UA is no different. I hope this year we can look at our programs—academic, athletic, student support, everything—and map out a future that matches the aspirations of the Portrait of a Graduate and the school’s strategic plan. I love being here, and I love the work we have ahead.

So far, what has been your favorite memory at Ursuline?

Well, I have ones from long ago—like my parents being told by the lower school principal that I was a troublesome kid and being sent to the corner often. Memories this year? Maybe it is too early, but I have some images that I will cherish in the future: Jane Lyons talking about sisterhood at the liturgy, watching Sister Betty play in the Flag Football games on Saturday, being thanked by an alumna speaker last week, and seeing Coach Heiss go nuts at a volleyball ball game. I know there will be lots more this year.

How has your view on Ursuline changed since your arrival?

I heard about how close this school is, but until being here it is hard to realize. I also see how much the teachers are invested in the UA girls, their growth in every area. And the girls are great. Funny, respectful, curious, often opinionated. They are a joy to be with.

Who inspires you?

I have been lucky in having great and generous mentors in the schools where I have been. A dean at Haverford School, a football coach at my school in St. Louis who showed me how to inspire kids, in Alabama a wonderful former Olympic Decathlete who would grab me by the shoulders and tell me, “You are doing a great job, Tommy. Don’t let anyone get you down.” Many, many great teachers I have had the privilege to work with. Kids who showed me courage—a nearly blind girl who made me a better teacher—and extraordinary talent. I was lucky to coach great kids in lacrosse, a number of whom who became captains of their college teams. Lots of just great people.

Two friends, though, stand out. A head of school and athletic director who represent everything I respect in terms of character and friendship. These are the guys I think of when I need a standard of behavior—“What would Matt or Randy do?” We are lucky we can get together every year to laugh, remember, and talk about our wives and kids. They inspire me.

Finally, a man who helped me find my footing as a new teacher. He was an Oblate, and was at Salesianum for several years. I was at another Salesian school, a teacher in my first job. When I was confused, he explained. When I made a mistake, he helped me laugh at it. And when he asked me to help him, I felt great.


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