Clare Monahan Dame came to R-MA as the Director of Enrollment Management in September 2011 with plenty of experience and a unique understanding of prospective parents’ and students’ emotions: she attended boarding school in Richmond, VA, as a high school student, and two of her daughters also went to boarding school.
A native of Winchester, Virginia, Ms. Dame attended St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, VA, then went on to the College of William & Mary. She trained as a paralegal and spent many years in that profession, living and working in the Northern Virginia area for 13 years—and being a mom as well.
Eventually Ms. Dame did several things that set her on the path to R-MA. First, she moved back to the Winchester area. Her children enrolled in Powhatan School, and Ms. Dame became an active parent, then a board member, eventually being named Chairperson of the Board of Trustees at Powhatan. During this time, she obtained her master’s degree in education from James Madison University.
At the time of her graduation from JMU in 1999, Powhatan School had made the decision to almost double their student body. They remained a K-8 school, but added a class at each grade level. Ms. Dame was selected to become the Director of Admission to see the school through this growth period, and she was also a part-time school counselor. By 2005, the school was finished with its expansion, and in need of a full-time counselor.
“I was excited. It was what I wanted,” she said. “I was able to develop the curriculum, advance the program. I love the idea of being able to work with children and help them put into place the emotional and social aspects of their life so they could concentrate on academics.”
In 2010, Ms. Dame left Powhatan to work as a community-based counselor in the Winchester/Frederick County/Clarke County area, but she quickly discovered she missed being in an educational setting. That led her to R-MA.
“I’m happy to be back to admissions,” she said. “I love admissions because I love giving children an opportunity to discover their fullest potential. You match a child to the right school so they can find themselves and discover opportunities, especially in a place like R-MA where we have mentors, teachers, and dorm staff who mentor the students and work with them. We develop future leaders here.”
As a parent who saw two girls off to boarding school, Ms. Dame has heard the same comments most other boarding school parents have heard. “People would say to me, ‘How can you let her go away to school? I love my child too much to do that.’ But it’s because I love them that I helped them find the right school, and both girls who went to boarding school had the high school experience they wanted,” she explained.
Ms. Dame’s sensitivity to families’ feelings puts both parents and students at ease. “I’ve been a boarder myself, so I understand what the children go through,” she said. “I can assuage the parents’ anxieties. The friends I made at boarding school became somewhat of an extended family. And the academics at boarding school allowed me to get into a college I otherwise might not have gotten into.”
Ms. Dame has four daughters and three grandsons.
- M.Ed. James Madison University
- B.A. College of William & Mary