Cranbrook Schools selects new director of schools

By: Brendan Losinski | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 6, 2017

 Aimeclaire Lambert Roche

Aimeclaire Lambert Roche

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills recently announced Aimeclaire Lambert Roche as the next director of schools.

The director of schools serves a similar purpose as a superintendent would in a public school system. Roche was selected for the position after a national search. She comes from the Bishop’s School in La Jolla, California, where she was the head of school as well as president of the board of directors at the California Association of Independent Schools.

Roche holds a master’s degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University, and has done advanced coursework through the National Endowment for the Humanities, and at the University of Georgia and the American Academy in Rome.

Prior to her time at the Bishop’s School, Roche was assistant head of Groton School in Groton, Massachusetts, from 2004 to 2009. She worked at St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware, from 1994 to 2004, where she served as the director of college counseling and the head of the classical languages department. She has taught at both Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, and at the Williams School in New London, Connecticut.

“I am really humbled that everyone at Cranbrook has confidence in me,” said Roche. “I have been lucky to be a part of schools that have prized not just academics, but also warmth and care. I responded to the warmth of the community here, and I found Cranbrook having much the same value in that regard.”

Roche is inheriting the position from Arlyce Seibert, who has been director of schools since 1995. Seibert has been with Cranbrook Schools for 47 years and will be retiring next summer.

“I began as a history teacher in 1971 at Kingswood School for Girls and had a very deep and close appreciation for what the school meant to people,” said Seibert. “I will be returning to Cleveland, where I grew up. I really have been in conversations with some other organizations, but I haven’t committed to anything yet. I want to give myself permission to really consider what my next step is.”

Roche will take over the position officially on Aug. 1, 2018. Seibert said she is proud of the gains she has made while director of schools and is confident that Roche will be able to build on those accomplishments.

“I think my role was making the school more of a presence nationally and internationally,” said Seibert. “During my tenure, we initiated Smart Boards, which was a major shift to integrate technology into the curriculum, which was a big part of my tenure. There was a greater involvement in a lot of organizations, such as the World’s Leading Schools Association or the Global Online Academy, and that has generated a lot of interest in the schools. At the middle school we have gender-specific education, (which is advantageous) because the brain development can be different between boys and girls.”

Seibert said there are some general goals she hopes Roche will continue to pursue that she said have helped make Cranbrook Schools the respected institution it is.

“Obviously, we believe very strongly in innovation. We have that as a focus, and we have a lot of faculty engaged in that, so we hope that continues in that area,” said Seibert. “We hope there are further advances in gender-specific education, and I hope we are able to continue making ourselves more involved in global programming.”

Roche said she will do her best to accomplish these goals, but her primary goal for her first few months is to observe and orient herself to the five educational institutions belonging to Cranbrook Schools.

“My job off the deck is to learn,” said Roche. “Cranbrook has an amazing history behind it, so my first job is to learn and to pick up the mantle of projects that have already begun. I want to get into how it is all being done, what the energy on campus is and what the staff is thinking, and only act after that. There’s much to learn because much has been done well.”

While Seibert will always love Cranbrook Schools, she said she is looking forward to a long rest and allowing others to continue building on her legacy.

“I think because I have a special love for this school I will, of course, want the success we were able to achieve in my time to continue, but I don’t have any particular areas I would want to still watch over,” said Seibert. “After such a long time, it’s actually refreshing to hand it over to someone else and see what they are able to accomplish.”

Roche is optimistic that she will succeed in her new role and said there are few institutions in the country she would rather be involved with than Cranbrook.

“Cranbrook is a large school, and that excites me,” said Roche. “It runs the full spectrum of education, and when you see what they do for youngsters in education, it’s very exciting. It has the advantage of having the whole community beyond the schools, with the science center, the museum and the gardens. … I am humbled and excited. I look forward to getting to know everybody. I look forward to working with Arlyce to ensure a smooth transition. She is leaving behind a great legacy.”