No. 101 | People

Charles W. Britton 

Charlie Britton served as Headmaster from 2007 to 2018.

When Charlie Britton became McDonogh’s twelfth Headmaster on July 1, 2007, he began leading the School on a journey of growth and transformation. With Britton at the helm, providing direction and inspiration, McDonogh built upon its superb reputation, all the while remaining, as he wished: unpretentious. Whether it was fundraising, creating a campus master plan, facility expansion, faculty development, curriculum innovation, athletic and artistic accomplishment, or a renewed focus on character development and service, his stewardship guaranteed success. 

Britton believed his most important responsibility centered on ensuring that each graduate had the foundation to meet the challenges of his or her adult life. He said, “Qualities such as honesty, respect, compassion, and humility may seem old-fashioned, but they are timeless and essential.” 

Two years into Britton’s tenure, McDonogh adopted the Character Compass, which emphasized the values of respect, responsibility, honesty, kindness, and service. Britton’s vision and leadership capabilities impacted every aspect of life at McDonogh. He proved to be an effective fundraiser, helping the McDonogh Forever Campaign to exceed its goal by raising more than $80 million a full year ahead of schedule. As a result, the School was able to publicly unveil an ambitious Campus Master Plan and embark on a “building boom” with the addition of the Naylor Building, Edward St. John Student Center, and Rosenberg Campus Green. Other major projects included the Fader Innovation Center and the construction of Marc Village, which provided greater on-campus housing opportunities for faculty and staff.

Britton had an equally powerful effect on McDonogh’s academic program, supporting LifeReady (see Story No. 50), which informs virtually every aspect of teaching and learning at McDonogh today. He was also instrumental in the establishment of Roots Farm and the creation of Folio, a professional development tool for faculty that is now used by more than 160 independent schools worldwide.

Known for his collegiality, trustworthiness, community engagement, dedication, thoughtfulness, and work ethic, Britton also excelled at building and maintaining relationships, which he believed were at the heart of any great school. Britton retired in 2018 after 11 years as Headmaster.

Learn more about McDonogh School's rich history by visiting the archives online.

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