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Samantha Coyne-Donnel, Jed Donnel to leave Archer after 15 years

Taken+in+2005%2C+two+years+after+they+moved+to+Los+Angeles+and+before+they+were+married%2C+Jed+Donnel+and+Samantha+Coyne+pose+with+their+two+dogs+on+Archer%27s+front+steps.+They+will+be+leaving+this+summer+after+15+years+at+Archer.+Photo+courtesy+of+Donnel
Taken in 2005, two years after they moved to Los Angeles and before they were married, Jed Donnel and Samantha Coyne pose with their two dogs on Archer's front steps. They will be leaving this summer after 15 years at Archer. Photo courtesy of Donnel

Taken in 2005, two years after they moved to Los Angeles and before they were married, Jed Donnel and Samantha Coyne pose with their two dogs on Archer's front steps. They will be leaving this summer after 15 years at Archer. Photo courtesy of Donnel

Taken in 2005, two years after they moved to Los Angeles and before they were married, Jed Donnel and Samantha Coyne pose with their two dogs on Archer's front steps. They will be leaving this summer after 15 years at Archer. Photo courtesy of Donnel

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After years at Archer, Upper School Director and Assistant Head of School for Research and Strategic Partnerships Samantha Coyne-Donnel and her husband, English teacher and college guidance associate Jed Donnel, are leaving Archer.

Coyne-Donnel has been working at Archer for 15 years, while Donnel has been working at Archer for 14 and a half, according to him.

On April 24, the Archer community received an email from Head of School Elizabeth English releasing the news.

“As a woman leader, I am passionate about actively cultivating and promoting other women in their careers,” she wrote. “And so it is with a mix of pride and a heavy heart that I share Samantha Coyne Donnel’s news that she has been appointed as the next Head of Emerald Mountain School in Steamboat Springs, CO.”

Emerald Mountain School is an “independent kindergarten through 8th grade school.”

After finishing graduate school at Harvard University, Coyne-Donnel packed up her car with Donnel and moved to California. She discovered Archer and began working as a science teacher in 2002. During her time at Archer, she was the Class Dean, science Department Chair, Dean of Students and is currently the Assistant Head of School for Research and Strategic Partnerships and Upper School Director.

Donnel started working at Archer in 2003 in the front office as a receptionist. He then moved to the administrative area and was a general assistant before working in communications. Soon, he started to teach a few sections of English and eventually became a full-time teacher.

I was very much drawn to teaching when I was young, but I didn’t necessarily know why. And I think I found out my true love for it while working here.”

— Jed Donnel

Coyne-Donnel credits her love for Archer as to what kept her in Los Angeles.

“While the climate and our youthful impetuousness led us to the City of Angels,” she wrote in the email to the community, “it was Archer that ultimately captured our minds and our hearts and kept us here for the last fifteen years.”

She noted countless memories that she will remember at Archer: “‘dancing’ Bollywood-style in Archer’s Dance Show, conquering the Arrow Week trails in Washington, sporting too many outrageous costumes to count, and failing whisper challenges to name but a few,” she wrote.

“However, it is the day-to-day interactions with students and colleagues that I will miss the most: sharing stories over unidentifiable food items in the faculty kitchen, connecting on ideas related to teaching and learning, or guffawing over the latest Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer sketch,” she added.

Donnel echoed her sentiments towards Archer.

“I really love this school,” he said. “It has had a profound impact on me, especially on my approaches to teaching. This is the kind of place, as I’m sure you can imagine, where the students always keep me on my toes.”

Additionally, Coyne-Donnel has appreciated the deep relationships she has made with people in the Archer community.

“I have enjoyed learning alongside engaged, curious, and fearless students and working with passionate, talented, and whimsical faculty and staff,” she wrote.

Over the years, I have formed close relationships with so many great people, and I will miss the generosity and kindness of the entire Archer community.”

— Samantha Coyne-Donnel

While she was the Dean of Students, she established the Honor Code and helped form the Honor Education Council. In her current position, she has helped launch certain Archer programs: Engineering and Design, Honors Research in Science, the Student STEM Symposium, the STEM Educator’s conference and Interdisciplinary Studies.

“Samantha will be remembered at Archer for her extraordinarily generative contributions and the many ways she has helped to elevate Archer,” English wrote, “as a leader in research-based teaching and learning, and innovative, experiential programs.”

On a personal note, English wrote about her significant relationship with Coyne-Donnel.

“I will miss Samantha deeply and on many levels. She has been a strategic and courageous partner in leadership but also a friend; above all, Samantha has been an unfailing joy to work with and an inspiration to many – myself included,” she wrote. “I will be forever grateful and proud of the enduring impact Samantha has had on Archer’s growth and success.”

Coyne-Donnel (right) and middle school director Karen Pavliscak (left) pose for a photo on Halloween during the 2017-2018 school year. Both Coyne-Donnel and Pavliscak are always willing to go all in with costumes and celebrations. Photo courtesy of Kristin Taylor

This summer, Coyne-Donnel, Donnel and their daughter Harper will be moving to Colorado.

“Jed and I also look forward to moving closer to family and laying down roots in a small, mountain town where we can nurture our collective family spirit and spend more time skiing, biking, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors,” Coyne-Donnel wrote.

As for the future of Archer, Donnel is excited to see how Archer will grow.

“We’re really excited about what this school is becoming and we certainly have the intention of coming back to visit,” he said.

He commented that while the literal building might change, the feeling of being at Archer will never go away.

“There’s a really nice feeling between the students and the faculty— feelings of common interests and respect, and I know those things will persist, and that’s pretty rare,” he said. “You don’t find that in a lot of schools, and I think that is key to how Archer has always functioned.”

In the meantime, English has appointed Dean of Academic Affairs Gretchen Warner to act as interim Upper School Director for the 2016-2017 school year.

Below is a video of Coyne-Donnel and Donnel dancing as Tweedle Dee and Dum from One Book during the 2016 school year. It demonstrates their love and enthusiasm for Archer and celebrations at Archer.

Coyne Donnel & Donnel from Oracle on Vimeo.

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