We Asked…She Answered!

Earlier this month, Dr. Susan Paynter stepped into the role of Interim Head of School at High Meadow. Susan will lead the school through the 2017-18 school year and has lots of plans for a fantastic year!  

We’ve shared her professional experience in an earlier blog post, but we thought it would be interesting to learn more about her by playing a little “20 Questions.”  So, please enjoy getting to know Susan with some insightful, and some just plain old fun, questions and answers!

1) Where did you grow up?

Fairlawn, NJ

2) How many children do you have?  Grandchildren?

I have three sons and five grandchildren. An interesting side note….two of my sons married sisters. That certainly confuses the family tree!

3) Where did you go to school?

Lots of places!  I went to College of NJ first. Then, I was an exchange student at Univ. Copenhagen. I got my Teacher Certification at the Univ. of New Mexico. After that, I got my Masters of Special Ed at William Paterson and my Masters of School Leadership at Jersey City College. And lastly, I got my Doctorate from Seton Hall University.

4) Who was the best teacher you ever had?

Ms. Jackson – English – High School – She understood that children learned in unique ways and that there were many ways to construct knowledge. She recognized my way of learning and inspired me. Ms. Jackson showed me you can connect art, music and writing in magical ways.

5) Why did you want to be IHOS for HMS?

I believe in progressive education.  The values, traditions and ideology of HMS match those that I implemented when I opened my first school 20 years ago.

6) What experience makes your ready for this position?

A few things. First, 18 years of teaching multiple grades and subjects. I also taught a wide range of students , from special needs to gifted. Serving as an assistant superintendent of schools was critically important to my understanding of School leadership. I’ve spent a lot of my career training leaders in curriculum development. Starting a small progressive school of my own will certainly be experience I pull from as well.

7) What is your leadership style/philosophy?

I believe strongly in a collaborative approach that includes the perspective of staff in decision making. A great leader recognizes the vast untapped potential of their teachers and provides them with the same opportunities that a great teacher provides for their students.

8) What will you look to improve at High Meadow?

There is already such a wonderful foundation at High Meadow with more than 30 years of traditions and a reputation for excellence. I hope to help expand the music program to add more varied instrument instruction and include more science labs and experiments. Overall, I want the school curriculum to have strong, defined goals and then match our staff’s expertise to those goals. Our teachers are so good about inspiring students that I want to give them even more tools to help achieve that.

9) What are you favorite aspects of High Meadow?

I am so looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with the single most talented group of teachers I’ve ever worked with. I’ve never seen so much creative talent in one group.

10) Ok, now some fun personal questions….what is your favorite movie?








11) Do you have any hobbies?

I have performed as a guitarist and a singer in a band so I love playing music. I also create decorative paintings. My husband Michael and I have a garden and fruit trees that are pollinated by the bees in our three bee hives.

12) Favorite book you’ve read recently?







13) Coffee or tea?

Lean to coffee but love cinnamon tea

14) Favorite car you’ve owned?

Prius (drive it now)

15) Favorite childhood memory?

Singing harmony with my sister while my brother played piano

16) Favorite food?

Hot bread

17) Favorite color?

Periwinkle blue




18) One word you hope people would use to describe you?


19) Favorite place you have visited?

Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica….because of the monkeys!




20) What brings you the most joy?

My grandchildren!

Have a question for Susan? Send her an email at