By Jillian Carroll '18 Associate Editor Apr 27, 2016
Mr. Peter Warsaw, who has served as Academic Dean at Deerfield since 2007, will step down at the end of this academic year to begin a position as Head of School at Vanke Meisha Academy (school website) and Chief Officer of International Schools for Shenzhen Meisha Education Company in Shenzhen, China. As he pursues this endeavor, he will help grow VMA’s student body from 150 to 1000 students and implement a curriculum focused on critical thinking and analysis.
Throughout his time at Deerfield, Mr. Warsaw has provided leadership and support for academic initiatives including the recent renovation of the library, the AP Seminar capstone courses, and the Academy’s strategic plan, Imagine Deerfield. “The bulk of what I do,” Mr. Warsaw said, “revolves around curriculum development, academic performance, and academic integrity.”
Mr. Warsaw has also contributed immensely to Deerfield’s music program. As the Director of the Chamber Music and Orchestra Programs, Mr. Warsaw has touched the lives of many young musicians.
Pianist Sean Yu ’18 said, “Mr. Warsaw has helped me and guided me in all aspects since I arrived at Deerfield. He is my advisor, my classroom teacher, and my piano teacher, but most importantly, my mentor.” Yu added, “The thing that is most special about Mr. Warsaw is not only that he is the Academic Dean, he is also a phenomenal pianist, conductor, and chamber music coach.”
Building Deerfield’s Chamber Music Program from the ground up, Mr. Warsaw created the Chamber Music class, which has grown into a full orchestra comprised of talented musicians from all over the world. Mr. Warsaw recalled his first days in Deerfield’s Music Department. “There was no orchestra five years ago,” he said. “Now there are two … that’s pretty cool.”
Nate Steele ’17 said that Mr. Warsaw “has created a multitude of other performance opportunities for us [the chamber musicians], often in inventive ways, such as the children’s concerts, and last year’s tour of Korea and Hong Kong.”
In an email sent to the faculty, Head of School Dr. Margarita Curtis said, “It’s clear that the impact of his work [at Deerfield] will be felt for years to come.” Dr. Curtis has spent many years working with Mr. Warsaw; they were colleagues at Phillips Academy Andover before they arrived at Deerfield in 2007. Dr. Curtis added that she will “miss his insight, his inquisitive nature, and his work ethic—and, of course, his development of outstanding orchestras and chamber music programs.”
Opening a new school has been a lifelong goal of Mr. Warsaw’s. After teaching for more than 35 years, Mr. Warsaw feels that he needs “to have more impact in the world.” He explained, “I have grown up with a lot of privilege, I’ve been too lucky, and I think I owe the world something.”
Mr. Warsaw will be deeply missed by the community. Yu said, “We appreciate all the good Mr. Warsaw has done for our lives and futures, for Deerfield, and for music.” His impact on this campus has been immeasurable, and Steele is “sure [Mr. Warsaw] will make a huge impact on the Chinese education system” as well.
Although Mr. Warsaw’s time at Deerfield is drawing to a close, he said, “In a way, I don’t feel that I’m leaving Deerfield, just extending the Deerfield mission. I’m going to stay connected to a lot of folks here; I will need their advice and expertise.” While Mr. Warsaw is excited for his future in Shenzhen, he also noted, “I’m nervous, anxious, and terrified about everything … It’s a huge, huge risk” to start anew at VMA. However, he added, “[This year was] the first time my wife and I have lived in separate places, and it’s been hard. Next year, we will be together. We may go down in flames [at VMA], but if we are together, that’s already a plus.”
Dr. Curtis said that plans to search for a new academic dean will begin soon. For now, Mr. Warsaw said he is enjoying his last days at Deerfield and looking forward to what the future brings.