Just three months into the job, we catch up with Winchester Thurston’s new Head of School, Dr. Scott Fech. His distinguished career includes leadership positions at the University of Chicago’s acclaimed Laboratory Schools and NSU University School in Florida. Scott lives in Highland Park with his husband, Rick, and their son, Beckett.

What is the one thing that would surprise Pittsburghers most about you?

I am a very good cook. I learned several family recipes that are very special to me. I make a mean pierogi: potato or sauerkraut or cheese. I also make my grandma’s bacon buns which come from our Lithuanian heritage.

What is your favorite creative outlet?

I love live theatre — both watching and participating. I love becoming someone different in the characters I play and being around other really creative and talented people.

Where will we find you on a Sunday morning?

Sundays are family time. We usually begin with a hearty breakfast at home, then head to Anderson Playground in Schenley Park where the dinosaur and the castle really spur our son Beckett’s imagination.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your new position as Head of School at Winchester Thurston?

The guiding beacon of our founder Miss Mitchell, to “think also of the comfort and the rights of others,” is as relevant today as it was in our earliest days. Today, this is even more challenging with the discourse that our students hear around them every day. From polarized debates on gun control to studying the spectrum of political opinion, our students must listen to understand, and not blatantly reject, the many opinions they encounter.

Dr. Fech greeting a student on the first day of school Photo by Jason Cohn.

At what Pittsburgh restaurant do you always order dessert?

It did not take us long to discover the Burnt Almond Torte at Prantl’s. While it is not a restaurant, this has become our go-to spot if we are in charge of bringing dessert to an event.

Best part of your job?

The reason I went into education is because I like to work with children. When I go into a classroom, or participate in a City as Our Campus experience, I love asking students what they are learning. All of our students, from the youngest to the oldest, are very passionate about how what they’re learning is shaping who they are.

Ideal date night in Pittsburgh?

My husband Rick and I love to dine out. An ideal date night includes dinner at Paris 66 followed by live music, preferably jazz.

Dr. Fech reading to pre-K students. Photo by Jason Cohn.

What are your long-term goals for Winchester Thurston?

We are exploring ways to take our nationally recognized City as Our Campus program to the next level so that as our students are developing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, they are finding ways to have a positive impact on the city. Additionally, with demand for a WT education at an all-time high, our facilities will need to keep pace to meet the ever-evolving needs of our teachers and students.

What’s one thing in Pittsburgh that you are most looking forward to doing?

Since arriving in Pittsburgh this June, my family and I have enjoyed exploring the city’s parks, attending the many free concerts, and seeing the Pirates. We will be taking in the Pittsburgh Symphony, Pittsburgh Ballet and the Opera. And of course, Steelers and Penguins games are in the hopper. Having said all of that, I just learned that Pittsburgh has a Pierogi Festival. I missed this year’s, but I can assure you that it will be on my 2019 calendar!

What significant differences and similarities have you experienced working in your field and living in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale and Pittsburgh?

No matter where I have worked, children are children. They all come to school wanting to do their best. The same is true of teachers. The one major difference I see in Pittsburgh is how the most recent renaissance in education, medicine and technology, has made this a city that really values the work we do in schools.

Your not-so-secret Pittsburgh spot?

Mineo’s Pizza. We have tried many different pizzas in Pittsburgh and being from the Chicago area, pizza is a really big deal for us.

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