I recently spoke with Meredith Leyden, who is the Assistant Director of Admissions at The Derryfield School in Manchester. Meredith is also on the Stay Work Play Rising Stars Planning Committee. The Rising Stars Awards is a competition and event in the fall that recognizes young adults and organizations for doing awesome things in NH, at work, and in the community.
Meredith attended The Derryfield School after being in the Bedford school district growing up. She never really thought she’d be back, but now that she is a part of their team, she can’t imagine not being back. The Derryfield School is a small, private school in Manchester, where there are currently 390 students from grades 6-12. Vastly different than the typical, large schools in the area.
Meredith went to college in DC, where she studied Communications, PR, and Marketing. She was offered an interview at The Derryfield School, so when she finished school and graduated last May, she began her journey with Derryfield. Meredith said that “Moving back to New Hampshire after going away for college is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Being away from NH really makes you appreciate its beauty and fun outdoor offerings.”
A typical day for Meredith involves running the recruitment program for the international students. She helps market the school, and her goal is to get people interested in attending by promoting the benefits, showing what makes it so unique and great, and guiding the transition for new students.
The Derryfield School currently has fourteen international students, from both China and Turkey, but they are working on expanding and diversifying that. The international students live with host families. Meredith is in contact with those families and sets it all up for a smooth transition. The Derryfield School doesn’t have an ESL program, so they recruit kids who are proficient in English. Meredith also interviews about half of the US applicants and assists with that part of the student recruitment process.
Her favorite part of working at The Derryfield School is being an Advisor to five 9th grade students. She is the main point of contact for everything between the student, parent, and teacher for these five students. She loves feeling connected with the students and being able to support and guide them through their journey. It’s different than a guidance counselor at a public school because it is only her and five students, and she really gets to know them and establish a strong relationship, unlike having one guidance counselor for hundreds of students, like it can be at other schools.
One of the many things that Meredith loves about the Derryfield School is that it is small, and the classes are small. The average class is fifteen students, and the smallest was only three! The students work in small groups, get to know each other, and learn to work together to get things done. Everything there is project based, the work is really subject focused, and the students love learning this way.
When Meredith isn’t working, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, swimming, or cycling at FortCycle in Manchester. She loves being active and meeting new people, too. You can find Meredith at Surf Restaurant in Portsmouth, sipping a glass of white wine and enjoying oysters with friends, or on the patio of any of her Manchester haunts. “I am a complete foodie, lover of the great outdoors and find beauty in many things,” says Meredith.
When speaking about both working at The Derryfield School and attending as a student, Meredith highly recommends it. “They have awesome summer camps, awesome theater, the students are amazing!”
Thinking back to her own days as a Derryfield student Meredith says, “The experience there doesn’t compare to a regular, public high school. Kids focus on what they love and are passionate about. They may not always leave knowing what they want to do or what they want to be, but they know what they love.” Meredith enjoys seeing the students grow and work towards pursuing their passions and loves being able to help them get on a great path for their future.