It is with deep sadness that we report the passing yesterday of our beloved long-time colleague and friend, Professor Pearl Rock Kane, former director of Teachers College’s Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership.
In 1977, on leave from New York City’s Dalton School, Pearl arrived at TC as a member of the first cohort of Klingenstein Fellows. The program’s creator, Trustee John Klingenstein (who passed away last summer), quickly spotted her intelligence, drive and phenomenal ability to connect with people. He asked Pearl to become the Center’s director, and she went on to serve both in that role and as TC’s Klingenstein Family Professor for 37 years, building the Center into the preeminent organization of its kind.
Pearl’s famous dictum was that leadership is a behavior, not a position or a title. She immersed her students in the study of moral leadership, teamwork and diversity in all its forms, while striving to attract more women and people of color. She worked tirelessly to infuse the preparation of independent school leaders with a new level of intellectual richness and substance, introducing courses that applied theories of change and organizational behavior. She tackled issues such as teacher attrition and presented new information on brain research, child and adolescent development and curriculum design. In a field in which most teachers grew into administrative positions by simply learning on the job, Pearl introduced courses on ethics, law, marketing, finance, cognitive development and negotiation.
Today, the Center, under the leadership of its new director, Professor Nicole Brittingham Furlonge, offers five separate venues that serve leaders and aspiring leaders at each stage of their careers and reaches educators around the world through the Klingbrief newsletter and The Science of Learning: What Every Teacher Should Know free online course through EdX.
Pearl’s passing is a major loss to our community, but we are thankful that her humanity, decency, vision, and love live on through the Center she helped create and build, and through the lives of Pearl’s own students, who in turn have helped shape countless young people into engaged, responsible and productive adults. She truly was deserving of the President’s Medal of Excellence awarded to her last spring.
Our hearts go out to Pearl’s husband, Richard; her children, Bradley, Laura, Leslie, and Lisa; her beloved grandchildren, Samara, Zachary, Noah, Eli, Josh, and Lila; and her vast circle of devoted friends, colleagues and admirers. A memorial event will be held later this spring. In the meantime, those wishing to honor Pearl’s memory are encouraged to contribute to The Pearl Rock Kane Endowed Scholarship, which benefits students enrolled in the programs of the Klingenstein Center.