Dr. Mari Talkin to become head of independent school in Santa Barbara
Dr. Mari Talkin is excited about becoming the leader of a place she calls magical: Anacapa School.
Dr. Talkin will begin her position on July 1 as the head of the independent school, which serves grades 7-12 and boasts a 5-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
She will work closely with the board of directors to develop plans for the 2023-2024 school year.
“I am really excited; it is something I feel very passionate about. Anacapa School is one of Santa Barbara’s best-kept secrets,” Dr. Talkin, who currently teaches at Cate School in Carpinteria, told the News-Press. “Anacapa School is located on a storied campus in downtown Santa Barbara. It’s a magical place in many ways and has a home-away-from-home feeling.
“I am very excited to offer my leadership and vision in moving the school forward into the community,” she said.
Dr. Talkin discussed her vision for the school.
“The school is already pretty community-centered,” she said. “The students are actively encouraged to volunteer and are community-involved. The school has an entrepreneurial spirit. I love that, and I want to continue to foster that.
“My vision is to really help that and nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of students and connection with the community and for them to work together in symbiotic ways.”
“I will be working with the board of directors looking at the goals of the school. I am currently working with interim head of school, Jennifer Mansbach. I have been having meetings with faculty members to understand the goals and vision for the school and how I can best support that,” said Dr. Talkin.
“We are thrilled to have Mari lead Anacapa,” Dr. Dylan Minor, Anacapa’s board chair, said in a statement. “Mari’s commitment to faculty, students and learning is palpable, and her deep experience teaching at schools that are terrifically impactful on our community is unparalleled.”
According to the school, Anacapa’s 5-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio is the best of any secondary school in Santa Barbara County and the best in class in the nation. Keeping the size of its student body intentionally limited allows for a personalized level of attention for each student.
“Anacapa School has a stated value of encouraging students to have respect for themselves, each other, their community and their environment,” said Dr. Talkin. “The school motto is ‘Be brilliant — chase adventure.’ To support this value, the school offers all-school adventures every fall and spring (both camping and exploring urban environments), which give students opportunities for personal growth, experiential learning and personal connections.”
Dr. Talkin has both a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Brigham Young University. She also has a master’s in fine arts in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Art. And she received a doctorate in literature and creative writing from the University of Houston in 2012.
The News-Press asked Dr. Talkin how her career has prepared her for this position. “I spent a good portion of my adult life being enamored with being a student myself and spent many years teaching at the college level before realizing that secondary education is where the most exciting opportunities for growth and development occur. The ripple effects of a positive secondary education are far-reaching,” said Dr. Talkin. “Sometimes we don’t see those effects straightaway. Secondary education can be time-released. Meaning that the skills and knowledge a young person receives may not present themselves as useful until later in that person’s life.
“Those a-ha moments are so precious, and when a person who’s had those advantages decides to ‘pay it forward,’ the impact of their education becomes exponential. That is so exciting to me and one of the reasons I am so passionate about secondary education.”
“I taught at college level for many years as an adult until 2010,” Dr. Talkin added. “When I realized secondary education had moments for exciting growth and development, I transitioned to Cate School in Carpinteria, where I currently teach English, humanities and creative writing. Over the last 13 years, I have seen and experienced how teaching young people has a wonderful ripple effect that is exponential. When they pay it forward and the ripple effect moves forward, it is amazing. I feel passionately about secondary education and its impact on the world.”
Dr. Talkin discussed her goals as head of the school.
“As an educator myself, I think one of the best gifts we can give young people is to nurture their sense of awe. The science on the healthy benefits of awe — physically, mentally and emotionally — is clear. Additionally, anything I can do to support the school and the faculty I will focus on. I want to make the school sustainable, expand the impact on the community and share the school’s vision.”
“I’m looking forward to working with Anacapa School’s board of directors, its teachers, families and community to support the various stakeholders and share the school’s entrepreneurial vision as well as expand its positive impact on the Santa Barbara community and beyond.”