When Gulliver students return to classes on one of the academy’s four campuses for the 2014-15 school year, they will be greeted by the first non-Krutulis family member to serve as a head of school in the private academy’s previous 60 years.
Frank Steel joins Gulliver after a 32-year career at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, where he held several positions, including head of school for the past 12 years.
Steel, 54, is trading the home of Rocky and Philly soul music for the Home Marian Krutulis Built because of a goal he set with his wife, Betsy.
“My wife and I wanted to go on a life adventure,” he said from his office at Springside last week. “I am finishing my 12th year here, our children are grown, my wife and I feel young, we’re feeling energetic and adventurous, and we made a commitment to ourselves we’d be somewhere other than Philadelphia next year.”
Steel’s appoinment is the result of a nearly 10-month process that began in February with the creation of a search committee, current head of school John Krutulis said. Krutulis, son of the late Marian Krutulis who ran the school until 2008. She died in January at 89. Krutulis plans to work with the Board of Trustees with a focus on long-term strategic planning and capital fund raising.
“In actuality, this change is a return to Gulliver’s original structure,” Krutulis said. “My mother, brother and I worked closely to oversee the school’s operations. When my brother [Joseph] left, I assumed his responsibilities. As my mother transitioned into the role of director emeritus status in 2008, I also assumed her duties. As my position and the school’s needs began to change, I felt we needed to return to a similar structure by bringing in a new head of schools to handle day-to-day operations.”
Steel says the challenge to run Gulliver, as an outsider, is real, but one he welcomes. Marian Krutulis, he said, is “once-in-a-lifetime. I’m not trying to beat her but to try do do work she’d respect and carry her traditions forward and reflect well on the school. The driving emphasis has always been to do the best thing for the kids. One thing that drew me was her legacy and each student developing to their fullest potential. That’s similar to our philosophy here.”
Krutulis feels Steel is a natural fit. “He has the values, integrity, academic excellence and leadership that is expected to uphold and continue the Krutulis legacy established by my mother, Mrs. K, six decades ago. Our Gulliver community should be assured that this management change solidifies our unwavering dedication to honor our traditions, as well as a commitment to plan for the continued growth of our great school.”
Currently, Gulliver has 2,200 students in pre-K through high school and 470 employees on its four campuses in Coral Gables and Kendall, including the preparatory campus on North Kendall Drive.
Steel assumes duties in July 2014.
“Education is changing. Schools used to be where people came to get information and learn facts and knowledge they didn’t know. We are living in a society where you can Google something and in 10 seconds you have all the information you need on any topic,” Steel said. “It’s imperative for schools to help them go beyond gathering the information and be discerning users of that. Students in the youngest years will be in jobs that don’t even exist yet, but we have to give them the skills to be adaptable and flexible and problem solvers to participate in those jobs by trading on those skills.”