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Meet Amy Hand

Meet Amy Hand

As University School of Milwaukee’s first-ever assistant head of school for teaching and learning, Amy Hand is charged with aligning the school’s PK-12 curriculum, helping teachers across divisions share ideas and resources, and ensuring the school continues to innovate while honoring its mission. It’s a big job, but she’s up to the task.

Amy Hand smiles while talking to students in a math class.

How has your career prepared you for this role?
I have been an upper school and middle school math teacher, a grade-level dean, a divisional dean of student life and leadership, a department head, and a division head, and I’ve served at really great schools, including public and independent schools. I’ve learned that there are lots of ways for schools to be excellent and to further their missions.

What did you like about teaching?
I loved the challenge of taking a complex idea and helping students develop an understanding of it. Figuring out the right scaffolding so they can come to those realizations on their own is very challenging, and incredibly rewarding. I also loved collaborating with other passionate educators.

The majority of your career has been with independent schools. Why is that? 
Independent schools have the incredible ability to make decisions that are best for their students, families, and teachers. They can make curricular choices that are responsive to their students, design programming that forwards their mission, and hire teachers that best match their culture and students’ needs. Whether starting a new club or establishing in-person learning during a pandemic, the wheels can turn more quickly in those environments.

Part of your role is to oversee the curriculum for all grades at USM. What does that mean? 
We want a USM education to build intentionally from year to year, to utilize a set of common learning and critical thinking capacities, and to be centered around shared values articulated by the Common Trust. There’s a tension between dynamic flexibility and the constraints of a school’s approach and curriculum that can be highly generative, but which needs to be tended to. I hope to use my whole-school, 30,000-foot view to help teachers exploit connections across subject areas, divisions, and co-curricular programming.

What are your impressions of USM so far?
I’m inspired by the quality of teaching. The commitment of teachers to their students, to their craft, and to their own continued learning is second to none. I’ve been struck by the culture of kindness and warmth here, too. The rituals here foster that culture—the assigned seating at lunches, the strong advising programs—and all contribute to a really warm and healthy sense of family and community.

What was your first job?
In high school, I worked as a hostess and waitress at Red Lobster. I learned so much from that experience, like how to get along with myriad personalities, how to smile and be gracious, and how to multi-task. I also learned that Cheddar Bay biscuits are delicious!

Amy Hand is joined in Milwaukee by her husband, Erik Bowie, and their children, Gus ’32 and Winnie ’34 Bowie.

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