A Toast to John’s Retirement

Headmaster John Thomas is retiring at the end of the 2021-2022 school year, after a five-decade career in education, and our school community gathered together, on Friday, April 22, to celebrate him and his 17 years at Flint Hill. The evening event, titled “A Toast to John’s Retirement,” was held at the Peterson Middle School, where the common areas, hallways and outdoor terrace were filled with a number of surprise guests, including alumni; parents of alumni; present and former faculty and staff; members of Flint Hill’s Board of Trustees; and two of John’s sons and a daughter-in-law who traveled from out-of-state to attend.

Pia Trigiani, chair of Flint Hill’s Board of Trustees, led a toast, stating: “Tonight, as we honor and celebrate John, we affirm that he is, of course, the Ultimate Husky whose impact has been and will be an inspiration to our school for generations to come. He’s been the heart of Flint Hill for 17 years. John has led with vision and strategic focus, always mindful of the impact that his decisions and actions have on the students he loves deeply. John has the remarkable ability to connect and to make every member of this wonderful school community feel valued, important and part of something bigger than themselves. John has truly touched many lives — our students, our alumni, our teachers and staff, and our families, as well as the community and our sister schools. Each and every person who has known him and has worked with him has learned and benefited from his wisdom and advice.”

Board Vice Chair Mike Corkery and Board Treasurer Gary Rappaport joined Trigiani to reveal a portrait commissioned of John, which will be placed at the Upper School alongside portraits of past school leaders. After the unveiling, Trigiani commented, “It truly captures the very essence of John, greeting people as they come into Flint Hill, and it’s another sign of his visible welcoming to all at Flint Hill.” 

Trigiani then announced a scholarship in John’s name. “John is selfless,” she said. “He does not ask for himself or expect a lot. He is always thinking of others. As we know, he is the model of empathy. So, how better to celebrate John’s work than to ensure that future students can benefit from a Flint Hill education. I am pleased to announce that, as of today, the community has generously donated $180,000 to the newly-established John M. Thomas Endowed Scholarship Fund.”

Parents’ Association President Sibel Unsal then presented John with a “family scrapbook” of stories collected from colleagues, alumni, and faculty and staff to commemorate the past 17 years. A video tribute was also played, on a big screen, with former colleagues offering well-wishes and thanks and current students sharing ideas and advice for retirement. 

The final surprise of the evening was the introduction of The John M. Thomas Terrace, located at the Peterson Middle School. A plaque is displayed on a wall of the terrace, with an inscription: “Named in 2022 upon the occasion of his retirement as Headmaster. Given in appreciation for his commitment to the Flint Hill School family.” John was presented with a miniature version of the plaque. 

Toward the end of the evening, Trigiani led one more toast: “Please raise a glass and toast to John Thomas — a man who is first and foremost a teacher, headmaster extraordinaire, servant leader, authentic, a good listener, intentional, deliberate, dedicated, kind, empathetic, compassionate, humble, ethical, the constant in a changing world, will-sell-his-mustache-for-money, and a man who looks to the future but builds on the past. A Husky for life.”