Following an extensive national search led by Ms. Chris Baker with the Baker Group, Portsmouth Abbey School is thrilled to announce that Dr. Brendan McGrail has agreed to become the School’s first Director of Enrollment Management. Dr. McGrail comes to the School with twenty-eight years’ experience as a school leader, administrator, classroom teacher, admission officer, college counselor, advisor, dormitory house counselor and coach. After receiving his B.A. from Holy Cross College, he began his career in education as an Admission Counselor. From there he went on to serve as the first Director of College Counseling at DeMatha Catholic High School. After designing and implementing a college-counseling curriculum at DeMatha, Dr. McGrail returned to his high school alma mater, Phillips Academy Andover, to work as the Senior Associate Dean of Admission. After four years at Andover, he enrolled in the School Leadership program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. In addition to education studies, the program included classes in non-profit leadership at the Harvard Business School. Upon completion of his school leadership studies at Harvard, Dr. McGrail accepted a position as a Senior Dean and College Counselor at the Polytechnic School in Pasadena, California. Three years later, he transitioned into the role of the first Dean of Students at Poly. In this capacity, he assisted the Upper School Director with the day-to-day management of the Upper School, as well as overseeing the advisory program and all aspects of school discipline. Through the challenging work of discipline, he discovered an important opportunity to teach decision-making and judgment. After working at Poly for ten years, as a dean, history teacher, and coach, Dr. McGrail relocated back to the east coast, and accepted a position as an Upper School Dean and history teacher at the Dwight-Englewood School. During his time at D-E, he also graduated from the Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.
When asked for a few thoughts on coming to Portsmouth, Dr. McGrail shared, “I’m excited and honored to be joining the Portsmouth Abbey community and representing the school in this dynamic new role,” Dr. McGrail said. “I see this position as a chance to synthesize my background and training at independent schools, like Andover, Polytechnic and Dwight-Englewood, with my work in Catholic schools, like Holy Cross and DeMatha. Further, my Catholic faith is very important to me, and I view this as a unique opportunity to combine my school leadership experience with my passion for educating young men and women for others. I am grateful and thankful to Portsmouth Abbey School for putting its trust in me, and I am looking forward to moving up to Portsmouth this summer and getting to work.”
“When we began this process, we knew the ideal candidate would be someone who loves working with outstanding students and their families, exhibits exemplary collaboration, communication, and interpersonal skills, and has a deep affinity for the strong Benedictine mission of Portsmouth Abbey. We have found this person in Dr. McGrail,” said Head of School Matt Walter. “As the Director of Enrollment Management, Dr. McGrail will be a critical member of the senior administration of the school, responsible for guiding the strategic and operational processes of admission and enrollment, including all aspects of student recruitment, enrollment, retention, and financial aid. Dr. McGrail brings with him a broad set of experiences, education, and expertise that will serve our community well as he and our admissions team work to attract and enroll the best and brightest students from around the world.”