John Kenyon Jr., Madeira's latest director of safety, has spent his first two months of employment in a bit of a whirlwind, acquainting himself with the 376 acres of school-owned property and over 400 students and staff.
Madeira is more of a college campus than a traditional high school, and comfortable shoes are a must. Also a must is filling the boots of the man who came before him—Bob Holzman, a McLean fixture who retired in February after 35 years with the school.
Kenyon was a natural choice for the job. Before Madeira, he spent 30 years with the City of Fairfax Police Department, working his way up from patrol officer to lieutenant. He was eligible for retirement in 2011, so he took it. He managed to stay retired for six months before Madeira called.
"I was really excited to have the opportunity to come here," he says. "It felt nice here. I had a nice feeling about it. The campus is beautiful, and it just felt right."
The most important part of the job, Kenyon notes, is keeping the campus protected. "The safety of students and faculty and staff safe is the number one priority," he says.
Kenyon is in charge of guarding a high school, yes, but this is a school whose boundaries extend far beyond McLean. Many Madeira students, past and present, come from powerful families ranging from D.C. power players to national and international CEO's, figureheads, and moguls. Many Madeira girls go on to become women of distinction in their chosen fields; actress Stockard Channing is an alumna; so is the late publisher of The Washington Post Katharine Graham.
"There is always potential for something to happen," he continues. "We need to continue training the staff, and asking the faculty to be more observant. We need to get their help in making the borders secure."
Kenyon is looking forward to taking on the challenge. So is Ed Hamer, director of facilities at Madeira and Kenyon's supervisor. "It's always good to get a new set of eyes on the team," Hamer says. "We are looking forward to a good, long run with John."
Following the footsteps of his predecessor, Kenyon also plans to continue the symbiotic relationship with local police and fire departments, including arranging drills on campus, where officers practice responding to worst-case scenarios. "They are one of the most important things when things go wrong," Kenyon says about McLean fire and police squads. "We need them."
This is especially true during the spring and summer, which Kenyon notes are the busiest times of year. His work does not stop with graduation on June 1; Madeira continues to operate through the summer with a myriad of camps for local kids, including Camp Greenway and Girls First.
Kenyon is used to dealing with children, teenagers, and educators. One of his many roles with the City of Fairfax Police Department was as a community services officer in public schools, which he describes as "a student resource officer before they had student resource officers." He is familiar with the insides of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. He has punched in the line of duty; he has been kicked. He does not foresee the same kind of treatment at Madeira.
"The girls are very nice," he said. "They are very well mannered. There have been no problems so far, and don't anticipate any."
Kenyon has two sons and one grandson, so there are no Madeira girls in the family—yet. "I would definitely consider it," he says, thinking about the possibility of a future granddaughter. "If I could afford it!"