New Head of Upper School Patrick Loach: A Profile

After leaving Collegiate for The Kinkaid School in Houston back in 2010, Patrick Loach will now be returning to Collegiate, where he previously served in various roles over the course of 16 years, including eleven as Director of Technology, four as Assistant Head of Upper School, and one as Interim Head of Upper School. Loach also served as a history teacher and advisor and was deeply involved in the daily life at school, announcing football and basketball games from time to time and attending as many events as possible. He still keeps in touch with many of his former students, fellow teachers, and administrators, many of whom are eager to welcome him back in the fall of 2016, this time as the new Head of Upper School.  

Loach had a hand in helping create many of the traditions at Collegiate that stand today, including one he vividly remembers, Feast of Juul. Recounting the first time it was held, he says, “It was pandemonium, but a lot of fun. By the time we got to Denny’s for breakfast I was so tired I could hardly eat. The seniors got to go home when we returned, and I slept for two hours in the nurse’s office and headed to Brunch. Nothing like a few hundred Brunch-crazed girls to wake me out of my deep sleep.” As a regular attendee and occasional announcer at sporting events, Loach also remembers several sports highlights at Collegiate and the students that made them happen, including “the year we beat St. Christopher’s in football at St. Chris by one point after converting a two-point conversion following a touchdown. Coach McFall could have kicked the extra point for a tie and taken the game into overtime, but he opted to go for it. If my memory serves, Mr. Smith’s son, Blake, ran the ball in. It was a great way to win a big rivalry game.”

When the Head of Upper School position opened up last year, Loach had little trouble in deciding to return. He had built many relationships and personal connections while at Collegiate, and being back on the East Coast would put him closer to family, including his father, who lives in Crozet, Virginia, and his brother in New York. Loach’s son, Charlie (’23), also started at Collegiate as a Kindergartener, and will now be returning as a sixth grader. What also drew Loach back was his continual love for Collegiate and his excitement for the future possibilities there. He said, “I think it is a great school filled with amazing teachers, dedicated administrators, remarkable students and committed parents… Mostly this was about returning to what I think is one of the country’s finest schools.”

While Loach will be careful not to change the various traditions at Collegiate, many of which he helped bring about, he did observe a few things at Kinkaid that he thinks could be beneficial at Collegiate. Some of these include a nationally competitive debate team, which he mentioned “has proven a nice niche for certain students.” Another program he thinks highly of is their  “Children’s Theatre,” which puts on smaller plays for younger audiences and gives more opportunities for students who may not be naturally talented or are not able to devote the time for a major production. Although he saw the effectiveness of these programs at Kinkaid, Loach emphasized that “you have to be careful trying to transpose anything specific when you move from one school to another.” Loach sees the importance in evaluating private schools individually because they are all so uniquely oriented.

Current Collegiate faculty remember Loach as someone who was quite personable and also on top of things. He has an impeccable memory of students, teachers, faculty, and even parents, but almost more impressive is his knowledge of the traditions and “inner workings” of the school, both literally and metaphorically. (Believe it or not, the summer after his first year as Director of Technology, Loach had been given the task of wiring the entire campus to connect it to the Internet.) When asked about his memory of Loach, longtime Collegiate AP Economics teacher and advisor Mr. Rob Wedge commented, “He was enthusiastic about all aspects of school life – teaching, learning, athletics, the arts, and other aspects of Collegiate life – and making sure that things ran smoothly and were run fairly… He’s bringing the right combination of reverence for Collegiate’s past and a vision for the future that should make him a great Head of the Upper School for many years to come.”

Most of the things we take for granted now at Collegiate can be attributed to Loach in one way or another, as he took on so many different roles in his time here. When asked about his excitement for next year, he said, “I am of course intrigued to see how the Academic Commons and the new Fine Arts spaces are used, how the new schedule works and other things that have changed during my time away. But I didn’t come back because of buildings and processes, I came back for the people. I am excited to get to know my new colleagues, reconnect with my former colleagues, and getting to know the Upper School students.” Loach is a true believer in student leadership and will strive to get to know as many seniors as he can next year, as he believes they truly set the tone for the entire Upper School.

Photos courtesy of Collegiate School.

About the author

John is a senior at Collegiate School.