Meet our New Upper School Director

We are delighted to welcome Peter Gaines as our new Upper School Director, beginning July 1. Peter replaces Nura Yingling, retiring at the end of the 2015-2016 academic year after 28 years at Tandem Friends. Peter brings a wealth of experience in Friends education, program and curriculum development, teaching, admissions and college counseling.
A graduate of the Friends School of Baltimore, Peter is steeped in Friends education. Holding a B.A. in English from Colby College and an M.F.A in Creative Writing/Poetry from Warren Wilson College, Peter comes to us with a rich academic background and a strong sense of the importance of a values-based education. For the first ten years of his career, Peter served Abington Friends School in Jenkintown, PA as a teacher, college counselor, and associate director of admissions.

For the past six years, Peter has worked at University Liggett School in Grosse Point, MI, where he served as Upper School Director and also worked as Dean of Students and as an associate in their college counseling office. Tandem Friends Head of School Andy Jones-Wilkins says, “Peter’s background and experience are a great fit for our school and I am confident that under his leadership our Upper School will continue to thrive.”

Gaines replaces Nura Yingling, who retires from Tandem Friends after over 28 years of dedicated service as teacher and administrator, the last twelve of them as Upper School Director. During her tenure, Yingling started the traditions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and 8th grade graduation in the Middle School, brought several beloved rituals to life for seniors, and chaired our most recent Friends Council Accreditation process.

Peter, his wife, Sarah, and their daughters Mattea (9) and Beatrice (7) will be relocating to Charlottesville in June. They spent a week in the spring visiting Charlottesville to allow their children a chance to connect with their new school communities, and to provide the family time to get to know the city through a combination of exploration, house hunting, and visiting with friends and family. Peter recalls, “During our week in Charlottesville, I spent a day at Tandem Friends meeting with teachers, participating in the eleventh grade query group, and eating lunch with a delightful gathering of ninth graders. Our family is energized and excited for what’s to come.” Sarah Gaines’ background is in development (non-profits, and at the university and independent school levels). Mattea will join Tandem’s 5th grade in the fall, while Beatrice will join Free Union Country School
as a 3rd grader.

Peter is thrilled to be joining the Tandem Friends community and is excited by the deep sense of community, the important hallmarks of experiential and passion-based learning, and the emphasis on research, critical thinking and expression. “ I am drawn to the Friends philosophy,” he says, “know each student fully and help them embody their gifts - and the unique blend of robust, college preparatory academics and powerful experiential education.”

“As I spend more time getting to know Tandem Friends,” he explains, “I am increasingly appreciative of the ways in which students are known, challenged, and invited to explore the ideas and pursuits that call to them. Walking through the beautiful and open campus, the guiding notions of “Freedom with Responsibility” and “Kindness and Wisdom” are palpable, revealing deep layers of community in a place where curiosity and play exist alongside intellectual exploration and genuine

Peter believes that “Tandem Friends is a place where committed educators are asking important questions about how to provide the most relevant academic experience for their students. Through active professional development, teachers are exploring best practices in experiential and collaborative education, and they are working together within and across disciplines to provide a rich academic experience to prepare students to lead and succeed in college and beyond.”

The Tandem Friends School community welcomes Peter and his family, and looks forward to a rich and fulfilling partnership.