by Beth Rowen P’20
Headmaster Bob Broudo oftens calls Landmark a mission with a school, rather than a school with a mission. That philosophy resonated with Thilo Henkes P’24, chairman of Landmark’s Board of Trustees.
“Landmark provides the right kind of instruction for students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities (LBLD) and is at the forefront of current research,” says Henkes. “It is a wonderful, strategic opportunity to combine research and experience, and disseminate it to all who could benefit.”
This ambitious goal is personal for Henkes. His son Rowan enrolled at the Elementary•Middle School in 2016. Rowan’s outlook on education—and life—changed just a few weeks into his tenure at Landmark.
“It was magical what Landmark did for my son in such a short time. The most immediate change was his increased confidence and self-advocacy skills,” Henkes said. “I was fascinated with the miracle that Landmark produced and knew I wanted to be actively involved in the school.”
Henkes’s involvement began with a seat on the Board of Trustees in 2017, before becoming chair in 2020. Along with a parent’s perspective, Henkes brings experience and expertise as a member of the board of First Lutheran Church of Boston, a former board member of Beaver Country Day School, and 20 years as a strategy consultant with L.E.K. Consulting, a global management consulting firm.
Leadership Role at Landmark
As Henkes assumed the role of Board Chair, Landmark was planning its 50th anniversary celebration, a major capital campaign, and implementing a five-year strategic plan. Then, in March 2020, the pandemic occurred. The trustees focused on support for innovative, practical ways to adapt and update the campuses so faculty and staff could continue to provide students a quality and safe Landmark education.
“Without a doubt, the pandemic shifted our thinking and priorities. It forced us to be creative in service delivery, think practically about our physical plant and investments, such as HVAC and air filtration systems, and maintain our high standards for health and safety.”
“The pandemic may, in fact, have had a silver lining,” added Henkes. “By adapting our in-person methods, we’ve developed online learning tools better suited to reaching the one-in-five students with language-based learning disabilities in different states and countries. It expands the field of vision.”
As the Landmark community looks back to celebrate its 50-year history, the Trustees are looking ahead. Henkes outlined where he sees Landmark going in the next 50 years.
“In 50 years, Landmark will still be the leader—the beacon—in educating students with language-based learning disabilities. That will remain our core, with an incredible teaching and administrative staff. We also will be at the forefront of LBLD research and expand Outreach so that more students can benefit from a Landmark education without being present on our campuses.”
A Man of Many Talents
As passionate and invested in family as he is in professional life, Henkes can be spotted pedaling around the North Shore with his wife, Lucy Armstrong, on their tandem bike, or navigating technical downhill mountain biking trails in New Hampshire with Rowan. He and Rowan also share an interest in woodworking. Rowan is enrolled in Landmark’s woodworking class and shares tips with his father in their home woodshop.
Music brings the entire family together in jam sessions, with Thilo on bass, Rowan on fiddle, Lucy on piano, Willem on guitar, and Colin on keyboard. Their interests range from jazz to classical to classic rock.
Landmark is looking ahead with a commitment to our mission and a passion for our purpose, with Henkes and the rest of the Board of Trustees leading the way.
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This story was first featured in the Fall/Winter 2020 Lantern Magazine.