Heads of Catlin Gabel

Send by email
Catlin-Hillside School and Gabel Country Day School merged in 1957 to form Catlin Gabel School

Esther Dayman Strong, 1957–58

MA Columbia University, BA Mills College

Esther was director of Catlin Gabel School during the merger but before the move to Honey Hollow Farm. She had been director of Catlin-Hillside from 1944 to 1958, where she led with enormous dignity, entrancing students with her talks at morning assemblies. She had previously served as director of the United Nations Association in Oregon and dean and teacher at Mills College; Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California; and State College in Lafayette, Louisiana. Catlin Gabel established the Esther Dayman Strong Lectureship in the Humanities shortly after her death in 1987.

Esther (not a great speller) left a note on her desk for Kim MacColl, who succeeded her as head, which read, “Dear Kim: Welcome to this desk and job! I’v loved it and hope it will bring you all kinds of satisfaction.”


E. Kimbark (Kim) MacColl, 1958–66

PhD University of California-Los Angeles, MA University of Colorado,
AB Princeton University

Kim taught at Occidental College and Reed College before he led Catlin Gabel. He worked with intelligence and integrity on establishing this new, merged school, meeting the challenges of raising public awareness and recognition, creating a school campus, increasing enrollment, and raising funds for financial aid. After his tenure as head he stayed on as Upper School history teacher, then taught Portland history at Portland State University and focused on historical research and writing the definitive texts on Portland history.

“The key element of the Catlin Gabel experience has been its value system where academic life has real value to it and a respect for learning among faculty. I think this is an element of the school going back to Miss Catlin’s day. I think our kids, regardless of how well they were prepared in every subject, develop respect for learning.”


Manvel (Schauff) Schauffler, 1967–80

MA, BA Lewis & Clark College; attended Black Mountain College

Schauff, a WWII veteran, taught 8th grade homeroom, math, history, PE, and shop at Catlin-Hillside from 1950 to 1967 before being named head of Catlin Gabel. (For one year before Schauff became head, Ed Blair served in that role.) After 13 years as head, Schauff left to teach at the Bush School in Seattle. Schauff led with good humor, optimism, and gusto, by his example fostering civility, cooperation, and involvement. Among his many accomplishments—an open meeting policy, establishment of the senior trip, mentoring teachers and leaders of other schools—he above all set the tone for a strong, warm sense of community and humanity.

“Schauff always asked, ‘Who’s going to wash the dishes?’ by which he reminded us that all communities work best when they work together. He radiates a belief in people and their capacity to work together—in the spotlight and behind the scenes—toward a result that is always far better than any of the individuals believed possible.” —Anna Hayes Levin ’71


Steven Prigohzy, 1980–82

MA Indiana University-Bloomington, BA University of Toledo, Ohio

Before coming to Catlin Gabel, Steven headed the Little Red School House in New York City, the International School of Islamabad, Pakistan, and the Friends School in Detroit. He wrote extensively on urban education. He later became president of the Public Education Foundation of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and director of the Cornerstone National Literacy Initiative.

“We’re not the antithesis of exclusivity, but we’re close.”—1980 Oregonian article


Clint Darling, interim head, 1982–83

AB Dartmouth College

Before Clint took on the role of interim head, he was—and still is—an English teacher in the Upper School who has long provided wise counsel to colleagues, students, and parents. He also has served as Upper School head and teacher of French.

“If we help students think more broadly, without narrow self-interest, it will make life better. This, for me, is a good reason to keep teaching in a small private school.”  


John Theodore (Ted) Whatley, 1983–85

EdM, AB Harvard University

Before becoming head of Catlin Gabel, Ted was partner in a computer education firm, and before that head of St. Mark’s School in Dallas, Texas. A former Marine, he also had taught and coached at Albuquerque Academy and the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He left CGS to become head of the University Liggett School in Grosse Point, Michigan. Later he served on the Austin, Texas, school board and founded an enrichment program for Indian youth in New Mexico. Ted is credited with increasing the number of admission inquiries and guiding efforts to raise funds and balance the budget.

“While we believe that everyone can be stretched and challenged, we approach each child individually and see each as a member of a broader community. We emphasize fundamental learning in the so-called basic areas, but we never lose sight of the extended community that is such an important part of our lives.”


James K. (Jim) Scott , 1985–94

PhD Harvard University, MA University of San Francisco, BA Stanford University

Jim had a long association with independent education. A graduate of Punahou School in Hawaii, he was previously assistant head and academic dean at Robert Louis Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, California. Jim’s keen administrative skills steered Catlin Gabel in a fiscally sound direction that increased financial aid and set in motion the campaign to improve campus facilities and build the Warren Middle School. He was a passionate advocate for student and faculty diversity. He left in June of 1994 to head Punahou School.

“Our task is to provide students with self-direction and a sense of service, to introduce them to what it means to belong to a community, and to model the habits of positive community members and lifelong learners.”


Andrew Beyer, acting head 1994–95

Exec. MBA University of Oregon, BS Southern Oregon University

As director of operations and planning, Andrew had led the master planning process that helped shape the village-like character of the campus. He left to become head of Nueva School in Hillsborough, California, and is now general manager of Walsh Construction in Portland.

“It’s important for people to realize that they can make a difference in a place like this. All it takes is asking, persistence, and a willingness to engage other people. You can do almost anything.”


Lark P. Palma, 1995 to present

PhD, MEd University of South Carolina, BA George Mason University

Lark Palma earned a doctorate in twentieth-century British literature and women’s studies while teaching at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in South Carolina. During her tenure Lark has, among many other initiatives, worked with the faculty to articulate the curriculum across all grades, built interdependence among the four divisions, reawakened the school’s commitment to its roots in progressive education, and worked with school community members to create a clear vision for the school’s future. She continues to encourage growth at CGS in global education and cultural fluency.

“We continue to seek balance among the myriad passions students have while fulfilling our promise to make them remarkable intellects and learners. Our students respond to this culture by blending social development with academic pursuits: for them collaboration trumps competition, and communal intellectual pursuit trumps sitting alone in a library.”