A New Leader For A New Century
Mr. Paul Burke was unanimously named the seventh head of school at Nightingale and took on the role in July 2012. Mr. Burke, like Miss Nightingale and Miss Bamford before him, embraces the philosophy that educating girls is a matter of both mind and heart and that girls’ schools educate girls best. He believes that a school where everyone is known encourages students to take intellectual risks and establish their own voices.
Going Beyond Barriers
Mr. Burke’s time as the head of Nightingale’s Upper School provided him with rich relationships within the Nightingale community, which gave him a robust understanding of the strengths of its past and the needs of its future.
This experience informed Mr. Burke’s commitment to creating a more diverse and equitable community as well as keeping the entire school within one building. Nightingale embarked on an ambitious Schoolhouse expansion under his new leadership that added 20 percent more additional space and reimagined nearly every corner of the building. It was essential to preserve the tradition of students of all ages under one roof to foster strong relationships, a vital component of the Nightingale mission, while also pursuing the vision of a 21st-century schoolhouse. With the expansion complete, Mr. Burke turned his energy and leadership in designing and implementing a new strategic plan in 2017. In 2020 and the start of Nightingale’s second century, Mr. Burke has embraced a renewed commitment to creating a truly equitable, inclusive, and antiracist school.
“I have long believed that the best schools are led by ideas first and people second, and I am confident in the strength and power of the ideas leading Nightingale today. As we move ever closer to the start of our school’s
second century, we do so as an intentional, thoughtful community with a renewed,
yet long-standing belief in the capacity of a well-educated heart and mind to go beyond barriers for the betterment of all.”
— Paul A. Burke, 2017
The Journey to Nightingale
Mr. Burke’s path to Nightingale took him through various academic institutions that shaped his views and informed both his approach to the world and his career choices. He graduated from Williams College, where he majored in American history and American studies. After college, he became the college counselor at the Salisbury School, an all-boys boarding school in western Connecticut. After three years in Connecticut, Mr. Burke returned to school to earn a master’s degree in educational administration through the prestigious Klingenstein program in private school leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. While there, he was inducted into the Kappa Delta Pi honor society. After Columbia, Mr. Burke joined Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, where he spent eight years as a college counselor, history teacher, and for his last five years there, a dean of students.
During the Packer years, he and his wife welcomed three children— twin sons and a daughter, a member of Nightingale’s Class of 2027. When he’s not running a school, Mr. Burke can be seen running marathons, walking his dog in Central Park, or seeking New York’s best pizza.
President of the Board of the Independent School Admission Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY), President of the Board of the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, Founding Board Member for Riley’s Way Foundation and Summer Steps. Mr. Burke has previously served on the Board of Packer Collegiate Institute and The Browning School.