John Delautre may only be entering his second month of his first academic year as the Head of School at Whitfield School, but he's been learning about life at the school for more than a year.
Delautre was recruited to the Creve Coeur independent school serving grades grades 6-12, from St. Francis School, a pre-school through grade eight program in Goshen Kentucky. His hiring was announced in December 2011.
In an interview last week, he said the process of coming here from there was like something out of a science fiction story, with a "very slow teleportation" as particles of his life made the transition from the greater Louisville area to St. Louis.
It seems he's found an environment to his liking.
“I’m very fortunate to have stepped into a community that has been chugging along aiming for the right target for decades," he said.
To that end, he didn't arrive in town intent on making waves.
He told Patch his job is to help the school do a better job of telling the Whitfield story to the community at large. “We’re tired of being the city’s best kept secret”
Telling that story does not necessarily mean growing the student body at the school. Delautre said a graduating class of between 65-75 was about right, noting that larger classes make it hard for faculty to know students, and for students to know fellow students.
“Whitfield will continue to be what its always been---an intimate place,” he said.
That sense of intimacy has been on display to those outside the school since the August 2011 car accident that led to the death of Whitfield School teacher and parent Janet Esrock. Students have rallied around the family, including Esrock's son Jon, who was injured in the accident and has since returned to school, as well as a spot on the varsity soccer team.
Janet Esrock's reknown White Chocolate Brownies were featured at a Spirit Week event last week and Delautre seemed moved when he said the students chanted, "We love Esrock.”
For more on Delautre, check out a September profile in Town and Style Magazine.