Malcolm Lester Installed as New Head of Grace Episcopal Day School

[GEDS] On December 1, 2012, Malcolm C. Lester was installed as head of Grace Episcopal Day School, Kensington, MD. The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, presided over the installation service, which was held at Grace Episcopal Church in Silver Spring, MD. Over 330 people attended this joyful celebration and joined Bishop Budde in bestowing blessings upon Mr. Lester as he officially accepted his position as head of Grace Episcopal Day School, a preschool through fifth grade school in Kensington.

Malcolm Lester and a GEDS StudentGrace students played an integral role in the service, with students opening the ceremony with the singing of the Grace School anthem, written by the school’s music teacher John Kennedy, who directed the performance. Two fifth graders also read Biblical passages from Paul’s Letter to the Romans and the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, respectively. The entire fifth grade also presented Mr. Lester with a book of poetry signed by every student at the school.

The Grace Parent-Teacher Organization co-chairs presented Mr. Lester with a large, framed all-school photo. After the summer consolidation of two campuses, this is the first year in which all eight grades are housed on the 11-acre Kensington campus, and the photo commemorates this historic year.

Finally, first grade teacher Pamela Yarrington, representing the entire faculty and staff, described the faculty’s gift to Mr. Lester as it was rolled out in front of the altar: a shadblow serviceberry tree, to be planted on campus as a mark of Lester’s tenure at the school. “We look forward to watching it grow as your time here goes on,” she said.

Towards the end of the service, Mr. Lester thanked various constituencies within the Grace Episcopal Day School and Grace Episcopal Church communities, saying he “can’t wait to see and experience the bright future for all of us at Grace Episcopal Day School.”

The large and diverse crowd included Mr. Lester’s family, friends, faculty, students and their families, alumni, Grace School’s Board of Governors, and leaders from the Episcopal Diocese. In addition, many heads of school and independent school leaders were in attendance, including the heads of school at St. Albans, Beauvoir, St. Patrick’s, and National Presbyterian School. Also, the executive directors of the Black Student Fund, National Association of Episcopal Schools, and the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal Schools Association were present either as participants or attendees.

Malcolm Lester began his tenure as head of Grace Episcopal Day School on July 1, 2012. He came to Grace Episcopal Day School from St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., where he served as an administrator, teacher and coach for twenty one years. At St. Albans, Mr. Lester directed the Skip Grant Program (a support and guidance program for students from historically under-represented backgrounds), taught English, and served as assistant director of admissions and head varsity lacrosse coach. He will be inducted into the U.S. Lacrosse Potomac Chapter Lacrosse Hall of Fame on February 2, 2013, at the University Club in Washington, D.C. He sits on the boards of the Beauvoir School, the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys, and the mid-Atlantic Episcopal Association. Mr. Lester and his wife, Hilary Cairns, have three children: daughter Page, son Teddy, and son Grant.

53 years after its founding, Grace Episcopal Day School has grown from a neighborhood pre-school to one of the area’s most well-regarded independent schools. Students in pre-school through fifth grade find a rich and nurturing learning environment at Grace, where they are challenged to perform at their highest level and encouraged to take responsibility for their actions and appreciate individual differences.

Mr. Lester’s installation service marked Bishop Budde’s first visit to Grace Episcopal Church since her installation as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington in November 2011. The entire Grace community, including Rev. Andrew Walter, rector at Grace Church, Grace parishioners, and the Grace school community, were honored to have Bishop Budde preside over Mr. Lester’s installation and are grateful for her leadership.