Mr. Armstrong will be greatly missed by faculty, students, and throughout our community as he has been appointed Headmaster of The Fessenden School in West Newton and will assume his new role following this school year. After 18 years at Belmont Hill, there can be no one better prepared for the demands and responsibilities of a senior position at a top all-boys school. At Belmont Hill, Mr. Armstrong has served a variety of important roles in our community including Director of Admissions, Dean of Faculty, Director of the Middle School, and Assistant Head of School. He taught many of us in AP US History, World Issues, and Ancient Greek and Roman history. Previously, he served as Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at The Rivers School in Weston, MA, as Director of Development at Northwood School in Lake Placid, NY, and as a Research Associate at Cambridge Associates, a leading financial services advisory firm in Boston. A distinguished career and a BA from Harvard in Government and an MA in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education make the Fessy community very fortunate indeed.
Knowing Fessenden and Mr. Armstrong as well as I do, I believe it was not the remarkable resume that Fessenden found so attractive but his great coaching and strategic soccer knowledge that so nearly launched the infamous 3B soccer team onto the world stage with misleading records of 4-2-3 in 2016 and 5-4-1 in 2015.
Hoping for a flattering story, I asked Mr. Armstrong for an example of the genius to be found in the typical Fessenden student. He recounted how two weeks ago he bumped into a couple of newly arrived BHS students. On learning that they hailed from the hallowed halls of his future employer, he asked: “I hear there is an amazing new headmaster soon to arrive at Fessenden – do you know his name?” “Umm…errr..umm I think his name is Armstrong.” And with that, they walked on blissfully unaware of the celebrity in their midst or that they were to become the target of Armstrong’s sardonic wit. Belmont Hill attracts its fair share of Fessenden boys because of obvious similarities between the two schools, but Mr. Armstrong recognizes that they are two entirely different entities with different traditions, cultures, and values. He tells me that he is excited to “Learn about Fessenden and help it become a better school rather than mirroring another school.” While not planning a transformation, Mr. Armstrong certainly appears intent on enhancing the Fessenden experience through his ideas and effort. He is very well prepared for the new job but will be faced with challenges during the next few years as he adjusts to the new responsibilities. He may think that having me in class is a struggle, but wait until he becomes the role model for hundreds of 6th graders and younger! Fessenden is also home to many students and faculty members and so he will need to manage a boarding life for the first time in his extensive teaching career.
“I’ve always admired Fessenden,” said Mr. Armstrong “and so when the opportunity arose two years ago considering the new headmaster position, I was thrilled but sad to leave the Hill. However, it’s all coming at the right time and for me; it’s a really special place and a great opportunity.” Mr. Armstrong’s two sons, Matthew and Michael, have recently graduated from Belmont Hill so this change was also timely for his family. In conversation, Mr. Armstrong expressed his affection for our school and “especially the people, the students, and the faculty. I’ll miss the boys of Belmont Hill. I’ll miss the faculty because I’ve been here for a number of years now and have made some really good friends.” Mr. Armstrong views Belmont Hill as a second family. “My kids grew up around the school, both of my sons went here and it’s been an important part of my family and will continue to be.” Just as our favorite assistant headmaster will miss everyone on the Hill, we will miss him. His contributions to the academic and sporting life of the school are notable but more importantly, Mr.Armstrong brought a deep love for the boys, the institution, and the culture of Belmont Hill to school every day. You will be missed!