May 26 20

Remembering John Howard

This portrait of John Howard hangs in the SSES Board Room that bears his name.

The entire Saint Stephen’s community was saddened on May 19 by the passing of beloved former Headmaster John Howard, following a brief battle with cancer. During John’s tenure from 1987-2003, SSES grew into the modern campus it is today, highlighted by construction of the buildings that now house the Pre-Kindergarten, Campus Center, Lower School, and Upper School. 

Born in Minneapolis, Minn. in 1937, John graduated from the Blake School in 1955 and Brown University in 1960. He launched his long career in education by returning to Blake for nine years, where he taught English, coached hockey and directed the Glee Club. John also served as Assistant Headmaster of the Kimberley School in Montclair, N.J., and as Director of College Counseling and then Upper School Head at Breck School in Minneapolis.

John packed up his young family and headed for Florida in 1987 to take on the role that was the ultimate challenge and joy of his career. During his years at Saint Stephen’s, enrollment grew from around 200 students to more than 600. Many of the campus traditions now held dear – Falcon Friends, Interim Quest, Cum Laude Society membership and more – were established, and he helped foster the warm and caring culture that Saint Stephen’s is known for today.

“John was an outstanding educator who loved Saint Stephen’s and always instilled that love of learning in his students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Jan Pullen, who was hired by Howard in 1988 and succeeded him as head of school in 2003. “His caring, fun-spirited demeanor was contagious and inspired us all to put joy in our lives. I was honored to have been mentored by John for 15 years. He will be missed but our memories of John will be with us forever.” 

After retiring, Howard still made a difference in the broader community, serving as the Interim Executive Director of the South Florida Museum, Habitat for Humanity and We Care Manatee. A Celebration of Life is planned for the fall at Saint Stephen’s and the family has requested that memorial contributions in John’s name be made to the Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School Endowment Fund.

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