She is Priscilla Winn Barlow, a zoologist who led the prestigious girls’ school on the Upper East Side from 1997 to 2003, when she retired. In a letter e-mailed to “members of the Brearley community,” the president of the board, Alan K. Jones, praised Dr. Winn Barlow as a “wise, warm and witty educator who so ably guided Brearley through a period of sustained development and improvement.”
She replaces Stephanie J. Hull, whose departure on Thursday, with no notice, shocked parents and alumni.
Calls to Dr. Hull, who is taking a yearlong sabbatical that she was eligible for during her tenure but skipped, were not returned Thursday night, and a spokesman for Brearley could not be reached for comment.
Dr. Winn Barlow, who is British, was Brearley’s 13th head of school, according to the letter from Mr. Jones, and had previously served as an administrator at Milton Academy in Boston and Havergal College, a girls’ school in Toronto.
“During her original tenure as head of school,” Mr. Jones wrote, “Priscilla thoughtfully and successfully led the school through a series of important initiatives that bolstered Brearley’s educational leadership in science, expanded the use of technology throughout the school, provided students with substantially more curricular flexibility and choice, and sharpened the school’s focus on important issues of diversity and community.”
He attached a chapter about her from a Brearley history book, which described her as “a natural” who “focused her delightfully low-key attention on the quality of a student’s life at a high-powered school.” It notes that students loved to imitate her high-pitched voice and mentions her “zany persona.”