Congratulating Mamadou Guèye
The following letter was sent to the Sidwell Friends community on September 12, 2023.
I write to share that our dear and longtime friend, Upper School Principal Mamadou Guèye, will retire from Sidwell Friends at the conclusion of the 2023-2024 academic year. After 35 years in our community, he is planning to divide his time between the US and Senegal, where he will reunite with his family, including his beloved granddaughter Brittany. In addition, he will develop and implement plans for opening a Center for African Studies and what he hopes will be the first Quaker elementary school in the country. As generations of our students can attest, those who study under his leadership and tutelage will have a life-changing experience.
Mamadou first came to Sidwell Friends as a French teacher and quickly established himself as a learned and dynamic instructor with high standards for scholarship. His capacious smile, palpable joy, and engaging intellect captivated students, who appreciated all aspects of his work, especially his commitment to equity and justice and his leadership of international trips.
When I first arrived at Sidwell Friends in 1997, Mamadou hosted a student-faculty conversation group called “Gestu,” which in Wolof means “to deepen.” Mamadou’s goal was always to deepen understanding of and appreciation for both cultural differences and our shared humanity. I have never seen anyone teach this lesson with such passion, conviction, and success. In recognition of his accomplishments, Mamadou held the Banks Family Endowed Faculty Chair, and earned the Goldberg Award for Teaching Excellence, the Goldman Family Sabbatical Award, and the University of Chicago Outstanding Teacher Award.
After serving as a faculty member and head of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages from 2000-2008, Mamadou assumed the Upper School academic deanship, a position he held from 2008-2014. In 2014, he was appointed Interim Upper School principal and earned the full-time position after an international search. His tenure in that office is the longest and most successful in the School’s history.
Under Mamadou’s leadership, the Upper School designed and implemented a flexible, student-centered schedule and provided important co-curricular programming on a variety of mental health and relationship issues. A gregarious presence, Mamadou counseled students, faculty, and parents to focus on the journey rather than the destination, to be grateful for the many opportunities we have before us. His unmistakable savoir faire, willingness to engage in debate, and penchant to quote liberally from Camus, Sartre, Fanon, Senghor, Césaire, Condé, Thiongo, and Achebe delighted colleagues, who admire his intellect and joie de vivre. Put simply, Mamadou is a gifted educator and dear colleague. I have been fortunate to be his friend and to learn from him for many years.
The School has hired Carney Sandoe and Associates to conduct an international search for Mamadou’s successor. The process will begin immediately with the goal of announcing the appointee in November or early December. Once finalists have been identified, they will be invited to campus to meet with faculty, staff, students, the Administrative Team, and representatives of the Board of Trustees and Parents Association. I will carefully consider feedback from all constituents prior to making the appointment.
We will have many opportunities to share our gratitude with Mamadou throughout the upcoming year. For now, please join me in congratulating him on reaching this important milestone, and in thanking him for his unparalleled service to the School.
In friendship and with gratitude,
Head of School
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