IPSEF Speakers

Thomas B. Farquhar

Head of School, GEMS Nations Academy

After 25 years of private school leadership in the United States, Thomas B. Farquhar has come to the United Arab Emirates as the founding Head of School at GEMS Nations Academy, Dubai, scheduled to open in September, 2015. Most recently he served as Head of School at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, where he led efforts to develop and implement 21st century enhancements to the curriculum. He previously served as Head at Westtown School in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and at Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland.

Majoring in physics and music at Earlham College, he competed as a varsity athlete in volleyball and track and performed leading roles in opera and musical productions. His career in education began teaching high school math, physics, and photography, middle school science, and coaching cross-country and track at Sidwell Friends.

He was promoted to Upper School Assistant Principal and Dean of Students, where he served for six years. As Head of School at Westtown, he oversaw major building projects, expanded enrollment, and strengthened the academic program. He led commemorative activities associated with the celebration of the school’s bicentennial in 1999, including hosting an international education conference. As Head of the Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland, he led a Task Force on 21st Century Curriculum, a project to identify curriculum imperatives for planners and teachers as they strive to prepare the next generation of graduates for lives of leadership and service.

Upon his return to Sidwell Friends in the role of Head of School, Tom worked with Sidwell’s Board of Trustees and faculty on drafting a strategic map for the American curriculum of the future. Now the implementation of these curricular objectives by the faculty and administration is well underway.

He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of School Year Abroad and Earlham College, and he is a member of the U.S. Headmasters associations. He co-authored a Study Report published by the Friends Council on Education entitled “Embracing the Tension: Conflict as the Locus of Moral Growth.” Tom earned a Master of Science degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and studied in the graduate Opera Workshop at the Boston Conservatory. Since 1980 he has been married to Mary Grady and they have two adult children, Katherine and Andrew. Mary is a quilt-artist and Celtic harpist, and Tom enjoys biking, running, and woodworking.