Second postponement for Reynolds’ Town Hall appearance

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Bp File Photo

Nat Reynolds in his office last summer after he was named Interim Head of School.

Rachel Lester, Features Editor

For the second time, health problems prevented Interim Head of School Nat Reynolds from speaking at Town Hall last week. He did not appear as planned May 19 to say goodbye to Shalhevet, and said he hopes to make it to the last Town Hall of the year June 2.

“He kind of has ups and downs and it’s impossible to know so far in advance how he’s going to feel that day,” said his wife, former English teacher Mrs. Laura Loebe Reynolds, adding that they want to come next week but can’t commit.

On May 12, Mr. Reynolds had said he was unable to make it but would appear May 19 instead.

“Life’s been a little bit of a screwup,” said Mr. Reynolds, who’s been recovering slowly from a serious car accident Jan. 31 on his way to school. “I almost called and told [receptionist Muriel Ohana] that I couldn’t come, and then things got confused and I didn’t remember to call her. Anyway, I’m sorry and I’ll see you next Thursday.”

Although he is not well-known by most of the student body now, Mr. Reynolds was the founding principal of Shalhevet nearly 20 years ago and has served three different terms as either General Studies principal or Head of School.

Despite the important role he has had in Shalhevet’s administration, most students don’t know what happened to him.  Since his accident, which caused him to be hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, he has been recuperating at his home in Ojai.

He had been working part time in the weeks before that, and his accident was never officially announced to the Shalhevet community.

“I didn’t get tons of phone calls — in fact, I didn’t hear from anybody,” Mr. Reynolds said during his first return to school last Friday, May 6. “But I wasn’t assuming that I should be hearing from somebody. I did not want to continue being full operative head of school. I didn’t want to do that for the foreseeable future.”

Mr. Reynolds said that he had reduced his hours once Rabbi Ari Segal was picked as new Head of School effective next fall, and “then this mess happened” and he wanted to withdraw from the heavy commitment.

“You’ve had this person and that person running the school and there’s always, ‘What’s going to be next?’” Mr. Reynolds said. “But the difference now is that there’s a carefully chosen head of school who is coming in with a vision of the school, and gives the school a sense of direction and purpose that it’s been lacking, in my opinion, since it started.”

He said he didn’t remember his accident exactly, but that his truck was hit by another car at the corner of Olympic and Robertson boulevards on his way to school.  He was taken by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai.

At Town Hall today, he is expected to bid farewell to a school he first learned of when founding head of school Dr. Jerry Friedman called him without ever having met him before and asked him to help get it started.

“I think this school has held up to its original founding vision very well,” Mr. Reynolds said last week. “Nothing’s perfect, but I think Shalhevet started out to be a certain kind of school, dedicated to certain values and commitment to a certain kind of educational value.

“I think, without hesitation, Shalhevet’s greatest strength is its commitment to quality education and the implementation of values that are coherent and consistent.”