New head of school setting in at Fryeburg Academy

NEW HEADMASTER Erin Mayo settles into her office at Fryeburg Academy. (Photo by Rachel Damon/FA)

NEW HEAD OF SCHOOL Erin Mayo settles into her office at Fryeburg Academy. (Photo by Rachel Damon/FA)

FRYEBURG — Fryeburg Academy’s new Head of School has arrived!

Erin P. Mayo, husband Peter Gurnis, daughter Maeve, age 17, and son Gunnar, 12, moved to Fessenden House in mid-June.

On July 1, Mayo, the first woman to head this 222-year-old school, walked across the street for her first day on the job.

“I am thrilled to be at Fryeburg, both personally and professionally,” she said. “I wanted to be back at a town academy, one that is as highly-functioning as Fryeburg.”

Mayo was born and raised in St. Johnsbury, Vt.  She graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy, Class of 1987, where her father, Bernier L. Mayo, was Headmaster from 1981–2001. She received her B.A. degree from Georgetown University in 1991 and returned to St. Johnsbury Academy to serve in the Admissions Office and later, to teach English. Mayo earned her master’s degree in English Language and Literature from Middlebury College.

In 2001, she became the chair of SJA’s English Department and in 2004, its Assistant Headmaster for Academics.

Mayo met her husband, a fellow English teacher, at SJA as well. Peter has an older daughter, Musa Gurnis, an assistant professor of English Literature at Washington University in St. Louis.

In 2007, Mayo accepted a position as the Head of the Upper School at the Episcopal School in Dallas, Texas. In 2012, she was named ESD’s Assistant Head of School for Academics.

In November of 2012, it was announced that she would become the new Head of School at Fryeburg Academy, replacing Dan Lee, Headmaster from 1993–2013.

For now, Mayo is spending her days getting to know FA people and understanding the school’s long history and current procedures. Regarding priorities for 2013-–14, she says, “Part of my long-term vision is an even more unified school community and a reinvigorated residential life experience. Much of my planning for the coming year aims toward realizing these goals.”

In the meantime, Mayo is planning September’s school opening with vigor and optimism and a renewed emphasis on student interaction. For the first time in decades, the office of Fryeburg Academy’s leader has been moved from upstairs to down, the very center of the school’s mainstream daily activity.

“Everyone has been very welcoming. I’m looking forward to meeting the families and the greater community of Fryeburg, and especially the students,” Mayo said.

E-mail Ms. Mayo at

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