Griffin Morse is all about building community. Pinkerton’s new Headmaster, who started his job July 1, formerly ran a dot-com startup out of Seattle and traveled all over the world.
“It’s all about building community,” he said. “You need to get off the plane and know your way around quickly.”
Morse, who follows Mary Anderson, brings that diversity and adaptability to the post of Headmaster. It’s a quid-pro-quo, Morse said, because diversity is also what attracted him to Pinkerton.
Morse, 56, was born in Chicago but moved to Newfields at 14. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and studied at Northwestern University in Chicago, at first majoring in pre-law. A junior year abroad in Madrid, Spain changed all that, fine-tuning his Spanish and also his future. He finished at Northwestern and went “straight into teaching,” running Phillips Exeter’s summer program in Mexico for two years. It was the beginning of a 26-year career in teaching, administration, and creating programs. It proved to be a better fit than law because, the father of two and uncle of 60 said, “I love kids.”
He was running a study abroad program in Spain when he heard about the Pinkerton job. What attracted him? “Everything,” Morse said. “Coming back to New Hampshire, being with my three siblings still in New Hampshire and my 26 nieces and nephews in New Hampshire.” He wasn’t fazed by leaving sunny Spain for New England weather, explaining, “I love New England and its ferocious four seasons.”
He loves the complexity of Pinkerton Academy, comparing it to his career in international business, a passion he developed alongside teaching. “I love its size, its many departments, its CTE programs – it’s amazing what happens here.” On a campus visit he met students who “are excited about what they’re doing and who they’re becoming.”
Coming during the 200th anniversary is even better, Morse added. “It’s a time of protecting the legacy, celebrating it, and watching it grow.”
It all came together for Morse when, on his campus visit, he met the faculty for the first time. “I was very moved by their questions, their interest, their warm rapport – they are people who are passionate about what they’re doing,” he said.
He was impressed by his visits to special education and also with student leaders, who asked him some tough questions.
Morse holds a bachelor’s degree in speech from Northwestern and a master’s in Spanish literature and language from the University of Virginia. He is also fluent in French and knows some Italian.
He has three immediate goals, Morse said. The first is to continue celebrating Pinkerton’s 200th over the next six months. “There’s a lot of celebrating left to do,” he said. The second is to get to know as many faculty, staff, and students as possible, and to learn from them.
The third? To get in the thick of things. He plans to move his office across the street to the Pinkerton building. “I want to settle in in a new context, the heart of the school,” he said. He will also be living on campus, in the Academy-owned MacKenzie House across the street.
Morse is the father of two children, Pierre, 15 and Sophie, 20. In his spare time he likes to read, spend time with family, and do sports, especially outdoors. He’s a camper, he said. One hobby is refinishing antique furniture, and he’s enjoyed seeing the transformation of MacKenzie House, a 1932 Cape Cod home, to its original state.
He’s looking forward to being in the heart of the school, he said, noting that he lived on campus when he worked at Milton Academy in Milton, Mass. and St. George’s School in Newport, Rhode Island. It’s an easier commute, he said, and a continuation of the “custodial care” he finds important for a headmaster.
And it will bring him into the midst of the adolescents he’s been called to shepherd. “I’ve seen very few students since I’ve been here,” he said, gesturing around his temporary quarters in the administration building. “And it’s driving me crazy.”