18 Questions with Head of the Upper School Lisa Loeb


This conversation has been edited and abridged for clarity

Ava Cashman: What’s a quote that you live by?

Lisa Loeb: “I teach; therefore, I am.”

AC: Favorite KO tradition?

LL: The KITs.

AC: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

LL: “You deserve this.” If you ever need to hear those words, come into this office.

AC: If you could only take three things to a deserted island, what would you bring and why?

LL: I’m not going to be practical. I’m going to be impractical here because I think that’s more fun. I think I would want to take my husband; he is my rock. I would take the television set so I can watch sports all the time. And then I would take an unlimited supply of pizza.

AC: Favorite restaurant in West Hartford?

LL: Ávert.

AC: Favorite musician?

LL: That’s a good question because I’m not much of a music person. But a year ago, I got a Peloton, and I started doing all of the workouts by Hannah Frankson, and she introduced me to some artists I had only heard of but never listened to. And so I would say that I would share her love for Mariah Carey!

AC: In terms of the room we’re in right now, what’s one item in your office that you couldn’t live without?

LL: Again, I’m not going to be practical, because I couldn’t live without my computer. My best friend in the world – her name is Amy Sun – she lifts me up all the time. And she gave me this because she said, “I want something for your office.” It’s this wonderful needlepoint design of “she/her/hers,” which is just her way of saying, “be who you are.” She’s very talented – she made it! She makes her own clothes, and she’s a specialist in textiles, so she does all kinds of cool things.

AC: I know you aren’t the biggest music person, but if you could have a walk-up song playing every time you enter a room, what would it be?

LL: “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys.

AC: Favorite TV Show?

LL: “Sex Education.”

AC: You’ve had experience teaching French and other subjects, but if you could teach a class at KO on anything, what would you want it to be?

LL: So the thing is, content is less important to me than the skills that I would want to teach or make sure students get a chance to practice and use. For me, maybe a class on social justice where students could learn all the opportunities that already exist for them to use their voice to make change and make the world better for a cause that’s important to them.

AC: Favorite thing to do on a day off?

LL: I just want to work out. I want to get on my Peloton. If I could stay on it all day and just be best friends with Hannah Frankson, my life would be complete.

AC: What’s your favorite place that you’ve traveled to or visited?

LL: My daughter and I lived on a farm in France. It’s an organic farm, and the thing is, you get free room and board when you work there. So she worked there for six weeks, I worked there for two. It was in between her junior and senior years of college… so that would’ve been 2011. There’s this beautiful farm called “Ferme Saint Pierre,” which is about 40 minutes northwest of Nice in Southern France. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and it’s just absolutely beautiful. On my first day there, I took a walk, and I saw a lynx! He and I were eye to eye. It was fun, and then the people who own it – it’s like a bed and breakfast – they left for a week’s vacation, and they left me in charge, but I had no idea they were going to do that. So they said, “Well, now you’re going to run our Airbnb.” I just have so many fond memories of the animals escaping one day. The two donkeys left, but then they came back, and then my daughter and I tried to get all the geese and the ducks all together in their pen. It was crazy, but I have the best memories of that time and that place. I think it was once in a lifetime, but I have great memories.

AC: Do you have a favorite book or author?

LL: “The Cider House Rules” by John Irving is my favorite book. It’s actually the only book that I’ve ever read twice. I never read books twice, but I’ve read that book twice.

AC: What’s your go-to coffee order, or if you make it at home, a go-to coffee recipe?

LL: So I do not shop at Starbucks because they are anti-union, and I’m very pro-union. So I have a Nespresso machine at home. I have one here [in my office]. I have one in Charlottesville, where my daughter lives. So I have the pods and I love my Nespresso machine! And too bad for Starbucks, because I would have been happy to plug them, but they’re very anti-union and I’m very pro-union.

AC: That’s important though. And do you use any sort of milk or creamer?

LL: Oh, half & half. I’m not shy.

AC: What is your favorite season, and is there a reason behind why it’s your favorite?

LL: Yes, fall, for a lot of reasons. It’s the beginning of school, and since my husband and I are teachers, we feel like fall is the beginning of things and not the beginning of the end of things, which some people think of. Also, we’re Jewish, and the Jewish holidays fall in the fall. For us, those are very important moments to think about the year that we’ve just had and the choices we’ve made. We feel like it’s really important to us that the Jewish New Year and the school year actually happen around the same time because we just feel like it’s a time of renewal for us more than a time to think about the end of summer. So fall, for sure.

AC: Is there a celebrity that you would want to be best friends with?

LL: Yes, Hannah Frankson! Of course!

AC: Do you have a favorite dessert?

LL: I guess if push came to shove it has to be cheesecake. Just New York cheesecake, plain, with a cup of coffee.

AC: What is the best advice that you would give your high school self or to any KO student? Or, what is the advice you wish you knew in high school?

LL: Haters are gonna hate. They just are. And they have their reasons for doing it, and I think when I was in high school I thought it was a me problem and not a them problem. And so now I’m like “Okay, well, you may feel that way. I’ve done my best to be kind and supportive and helpful.” So, I guess I can only do what I can do, and if they choose to continue to hate or be challenging, Ava, probably there’s a good reason for it, and I just am struggling to understand it. I always want to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I think the high school me always thought it was a me problem. I would’ve loved to have said that to me in 1975.