Taylor Smith, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, announced on July 24, 2023, that the Oldfields Board of Trustees has selected Ansley Smithwick to be the tenth Head of School. Smith stated, “Ansley is an obvious choice to lead the School as we move forward—she understands Oldfields’ past and she has an inspiring vision for its future.”
Smithwick has served Oldfields for 40 years in just about every role. She began her career at Oldfields in 1980 as a French and history teacher, becoming the Foreign Language Department Chair in 1981. During Smithwick's tenure at Oldfields she has held the positions of Director of Alumnae Affairs and Communications, Director of Learning Support, Academic Dean, Associate Head of School, and Interim Head of School. Since June, Smithwick has been volunteering at the School assisting with the transition to a new administration.
Smith stressed that Ansley is well qualified to lead Oldfields and has the knowledge, skills and academic acumen that Oldfields needs. He stated that Ansley embodies the Oldfields motto, "Courage, Humility and Largeness of Heart." He noted that Smithwick originated the term “Oldfields Magic,” a phrase that is almost ubiquitous now, as it uniquely captures what is so special about Oldfields.
Smithwick’s vision for the School stems from her knowledge of the school’s past and of its stakeholders’ dreams for the future. Her goals as Head are two-fold. First, she intends to reinvigorate the concepts held by the School’s founder, Anna Austen McCulloch—the principles that every student must be appreciated and supported and that the feeling of family must be palpable. Recent alumnae will recognize these concepts, as they were the central tenets during the tenures of previous heads of School, especially Hawley Rogers and Taylor Smith. This caring atmosphere has produced doctors, lawyers, engineers, poets, artists, writers, entrepreneurs, civic leaders, riders, teachers and community activists. Smithwick’s second goal for her tenure is to incorporate greater inclusivity in the school’s ethos and provide new curricular options, such as an equine science curriculum and courses in leadership development, public speaking, and global responsibility and stewardship. In other words, Smithwick intends to concentrate on what has historically made Oldfields so special for 156 years while introducing innovations that will equip young women with the skills and knowledge they need in order to thrive in changing times. She believes this vision will ensure each student’s success.
Ansley and her husband Patrick, an author and educator, raised their three children on the Oldfields campus where they lived for 17 years. She and Patrick now live in Monkton on the family farm.