Leonard Kupersmith, the longest-serving headmaster at Christ Church Episcopal School, will retire at the end of June 2020 after 14 years at the school and 12 years as headmaster. After spending almost 50 years in education, Kupersmith is now enjoying the next chapter on the South Carolina coast with his wife, Nancy.
“I was influenced by the teachers I admired,” Kupersmith explained while describing his first steps into education. He went to high school in Brooklyn at a school of several thousand and then to Brooklyn College for his B.A. He admired his teachers and professors “not just for their intellect but for their character,” he said.
After graduating, he ended up in Joplin, Missouri, teaching at a then-recently opened public high school. Kupersmith said he “loved everything about it.” There he felt a sense of community he missed in his own large high school.
Kupersmith went back to school for graduate studies and earned a doctorate in English from Kansas State University in 1974. He rediscovered teaching at an independent school while working on his dissertation.
He eventually worked through the administration ranks, serving in various administrative capacities. “I was able to justify moving out of the classroom and moving into an executive position on the basis of institutional impact,” Kupersmith said. “I never thought of myself as not being a teacher.”
Kupersmith joined Christ Church Episcopal School in 2006 as associate headmaster, before becoming headmaster in 2008. While at the school, Kupersmith taught an international baccalaureate course on philosophy.
The offer to join the independent school here in Greenville was enticing to Kupersmith because it was an Episcopal school. “I believe even more fervently that Episcopal schools have the right focus on character formation, spiritual formation, social justice interests and emphasis on a community where everyone belongs,” he said.
The school has been a welcoming place to Kupersmith, who said the student body is imaginative and united. The faculty, Kupersmith said, is talented and supportive of each other.
“If it sounds like a Utopian experience, it has been,” Kupersmith said.
Kupersmith had announced two years ago that he planned to retire this year so that they could begin the search for a new headmaster. David Padilla will begin his tenure this summer after leaving his post at the Baylor School in Tennessee.
Christ Church named an endowment to fund need- and merit-based awards to recruit and retain distinctive students in honor of Kupersmith.
“Leonard’s love and devotion to every CCES student and their families as CCES headmaster has been a blessing, and we are all better in multiple areas of our lives in knowing Leonard,” said Shane Taylor, chair of the school’s board of trustees.