Our Fearless Leader’s Practical Wisdom


Credit: Adam Richins

Mrs. Elrod talking with a student at the New Parent Reception last year.

Throughout January and February, the whole Montrose student body tried to “ride out the storm.” With surges of the Omicron variant and plenty of first-semester anxiety, we all needed a little encouragement. Our fearless, strong, wise leader, Mrs. Elrod, was there to provide it to us the week we returned from Christmas break. She advised us to practice solidarity, awareness, and carefulness as we entered into the next eight weeks. 

Now, on the other side, with mask mandates and rules relaxed, I can say that her wise advice really did pay off. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to sit down with our inspiring Head of School and talk about her life as an educator, tips and tricks for Semester 2, and goals that she has for Montrosians going forward. 

Mrs. Elrod knew she wanted to be an educator ever since the days she spent playing “school” with her little sister and teaching her how to read and write. Mrs. Elrod said: “I love to learn. I loved books and ideas. I was always fascinated by how kids move from not knowing to knowing. How is it that we can in one moment not know the answer and in the next moment know?” 

After teaching her little sister in their “school,” Mrs. Elrod started to ask herself what her purpose was in life. She recalled a moment in her twenties when she asked herself: “What am I really doing in life?” Her response was: “My goal in life is not just to be mediocre or even kind or smart or good. My goal is to become a saint.” According to Mrs. Elrod, being a saint requires an intimate relationship with God. She knew that this was what she wanted, but when she asked herself how to achieve it, she answered: “[I need to] help each person I come across — especially my students and colleagues — to get in the driver seat of their own life. I want to help them be able to ask and answer those questions themselves so they can find what God has planned for them.” 

After Mrs. Elrod discovered her purpose in life and how she wanted to achieve it, she discovered Montrose. After many years of teaching and holding the position of Associate Head of School, she assumed the role of Head of School just last year. “I’ve thought about it for a long time. I felt honored. To me, there is no other school that I would want to be Head of School for. Our mission is so rich, one I can get behind and excited about,” said Mrs. Elrod. The one piece of advice that Mrs. Elrod received when she first assumed her role that she still carries with her today: “Never let the best be the enemy of the good,” she said. “We have to relax and lean into the fact that there are going to be open loops, something that is finished but not perfect. As long as we’re intentionally saying ‘I did my best,’ and offering it to God, we’re not so wrapped around the axel.” 

Many of us, at the beginning of the year, decide to set either social or academic goals for ourselves that we want to achieve or exceed by the end of the first semester. Adults do that as well. Mrs. Elrod reflected on her main goal in a transition year from one Head of School to the next, and said: “One of my goals is still making sure that I have contact with all the constituents. In a transition year, you have to make sure that everyone feels okay about the transition. Making sure that you can have conversations with all those different groups of people for different reasons is important. Because of the pandemic, that has been challenging. I still feel like it is going to take another year before I can feel like I can get to everybody. It’s the most important thing because it’s all about relationships and building them.” 

I also asked Mrs. Elrod where, looking back, she feels like she could have improved. She wishes that she would not have been so hard on herself. “It’s better to live when you are not expecting something unrealistic, and instead really try to be in the moment. To say: ‘ss of today, with what I know now, and what the priorities are…who is the person I need to talk to?’” Mrs. Elrod believes that in order to be merciful to other people, you need to be merciful to yourself. 

For the last two years, the one thought on everyone’s minds has been COVID-19 and its effects on their families, personal lives, and relationships. Mrs. Elrod believes that the positives to the virus have been the ways in which Montrose and many other schools have been able to be flexible. 

Mrs. Elrod reflected our unique schedule: “Being able to design a schedule that fits better with adolescent sleep patterns and flexibility allows us to pause throughout the day. We have more diffuse thinking balanced with analytical thinking. That facilitates deeper learning, better connections, and overall health.” 

She also believes that our mission has been able to flourish more than it ever has before. Mrs. Elrod said that the mission really is Aristotle’s philosophy of “knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do.” When we ask ourselves, “What is my true north?” we will be able to discover what elements of our life are most important to us and the ways in which we can focus on them more. 

Mrs. Elrod reflected on what the first semester looked like and how the transition into the second one has gone so far. “I do feel like it’s a different world. There are a lot of things that I am excited about but also anxious about. I really want everyone to be able to kind of carpe diem: live each day, take advantage of each moment, and know that if we’re really trying to be present in each moment, God’s going to reveal what is necessary in order to produce joy and purpose.” 

I also asked her if there have been any surprises that she has encountered as Head of School. She said that she hears the worst and best things about people or issues all the time. To sum it up, she said: “It’s not a job that is quiet or predictable.” Mrs. Elrod values her role as an opportunity to coach and empower other people into a place where people themselves can take ownership and enjoy their life. 

As we enter the last third of the year, Mrs. Elrod’s advice for all Mavericks is this: “We just have to be really kind with each other. We’re talking two years of a lot of loss, frustration, and confusion. People are not at their best, and the way to help them get there is to approach them kindly. We just have to know that people are all really struggling. The person that drives you crazy the most is actually the person who is going to help you to become a saint.” 

Finally, I asked Mrs. Elrod about the ways in which the Montrose community can help her achieve her goals as Head of School in 2022. She said: “Everything that seems, in the moment, gray and boring and frustrating is all helping to prepare you to really do what God is preparing you to do. To me, the way we do that is by turning outwards. The words ‘common good’ are so important. It can’t ever be about ourselves. It has to be about ‘the others, the others, the others.’ To really live that concretely everyday is by noticing and asking and being present. Know that God has really beautiful things planned for everyone here and he is going to be revealing those along the way. Get excited about that!” 

As we finish out the remainder of this academic year, I encourage all of you to ponder these three pieces of practical wisdom shared by Mrs. Elrod. 

1.) Realize that not everything in life will be perfect and offer up those sacrifices for a bigger purpose. 

2.)  Be kind, empathetic, and gratuitous to other people; help people who are really struggling.

3.) Live each day to the fullest, taking advantage of each and every moment for the better.


Kate Novack ’24, Features Editor