‘Like a dream come true,’ Seabury’s new head of school settles into life on campus and on Maui

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Courtesy of Sarah Bakhiet

Seabury Hall's new head of school interacts with middle school students.

Renae Lallo, Staff Writer

Two oceans, two continents, and 10,132 miles separate Khartoum, Sudan and Maui, our island paradise. Seabury Hall’s new head of school, Sarah Bakhiet, was born in Sudan and her life has been filled with many adventures that have carried her from Africa to the hallways of Seabury Hall.

Bakhiet comes to Seabury Hall after teaching and working at La Jolla Country Day School in La Jolla, California. Although transitioning to a new place and school can be difficult, Bakhiet is settling into the Seabury Hall community nicely. She loves every moment she spends on campus and looks forward each day to seeing the students smiling faces.

Bakhiet’s joyful character and fresh perspective are enjoyed by all, and her bright smile can always make you feel good. “I think that she’s very optimistic and has a real energy and and a positivity. I think when you spend time with her you usually feel good about yourself. I think that is a unique characteristic,” said Scott Winham, head of Seabury Hall’s upper school.

As the new head of school, Bakhiet is already encouraging others and bringing a new perspective to change things up a little. “Seeing her willingness to think about things from a very positive perspective and coupled with that a very fresh perspective since she is new has helped me try to look at things through her type of lens,” Winham explained.

Bakhiet has already contributed greatly to the school, and we students look forward to what she will do next. On the first day of school, Bakhiet announced that students would now be able to wear open-toed shoes to school. Although this was a seemingly small adjustment to the rule book, it has impacted the Seabury Hall community greatly as it began the legacy Bakhiet is to leave behind.

Bakhiet wants to add onto what Seabury Hall already has to offer as she encourages teachers to further develop the curriculum and expand the fields of study. Bakhiet plans on moving Seabury into the future and preparing the students for the life they have to come. “Preparing them [the Seabury Hall students] for jobs that we don’t even know exist now,” Bakhiet said.

Bakhiet was born in Khartoum, Sudan, which is in eastern Africa. After living in Africa for the first fifteen years of life, Bakhiet traveled to the United States. Bakhiet’s experience in the fifth grade at an American school in Libya helped ensure that she transitioned smoothly into life in the United States.

Although Bakhiet was not completely thrown into a new way of life because she moved from one American school to another, it definitely took some adjusting for her to become accustomed to American ways of life.

While living in Libya, Bakhiet was surrounded by a restrictive government, where a neighbor could be condemned to death for speaking his/her mind. Bakhiet described the fear that resided in people who lived in Libya: “It was terrible living in a place where you knew people could be condemned to death for treason or put in prison without any length or without sentence,” Bakhiet says as she describes her experiences in Libya.

Bakhiet’s transition to the United States was difficult because she had to train herself to be open about what she thought. She had to learn not to be afraid of speaking out. She described this experience as “a great and freeing feeling.”

“It was very different how free people were in criticizing the government and saying what they wanted to say and that was a beautiful thing,” Bakhiet explained in comparing her life in Libya to that in the States.

Bakhiet graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a bachelor of the arts degree. She went on to get her juris doctorate at the University of Iowa, College of Law.

After graduating, Bakhiet was fairly certain she did not want to practice “traditional law.” Bakhiet began the search for something she was passionate about. One of her old teacher’s gave Bakhiet the opportunity to teach a couple classes, one being a constitutional law class. “I literally walked in the room and started to teach, and I fell in love with it. I knew before that period was over, before I walked out that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Bakhiet said as she remembered the moment she fell in love with teaching.

After many years of teaching, Bakhiet eventually moved to Maui, Hawai’i to accept her job as head of school at Seabury Hall.

For Bakhiet, moving to Hawai’i was always a dream. Bakhiet’s dream began when her father brought back a small treasure from Europe where he had gone on business. This newly found treasure looked like binoculars and you would place different slides in it to look into a new world found on those slides. “It had slides of all the states in the United States. It was kind of an educational toy. And the slide of Hawaii was the most beautiful one. I was kind of fixated on that slide when I was a child, and it stayed in my mind I think,” Bakhiet said.

“It was like a dream come true,” Bakhiet said of her move to Maui. She is adjusting nicely to the island style, and although she doesn’t get to go down and wade in the beautiful ocean water every day, she finds herself happier and relaxed.

“I’m happier. I think I’m a little more relaxed, actually, even though I’m much busier. It’s kind of an interesting paradox,” Bakhiet said, “I really feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. It’s very fulfilling.”

She is just beginning to join in on teaching at Seabury Hall as she will be helping in the classroom. Bakhiet is looking forward to the connections she will make in the classroom and hopes to further expand her connection with the students by attending social events and just wandering around campus.

Bakhiet’s journey started in Eastern Africa and she has found herself roaming the vast expanse of the earth traveling to places all across the world. Bakhiet has traveled all over North Africa, Europe, and the United States. She has also traveled to the far east, and now finds herself living in Hawaii. Bakhiet says, “I love to travel, I love to see the world, and I hope I’ll see more of it.”

Bakhiet’s curiosity drives her desire to travel and learn more about the world and cultures around her. Bakhiet’s travels have exposed her to numerous cultures. “I feel that I’ve adopted pieces of you know hundreds of different cultures. Every friend I’ve had, they gave me something, and I hope I gave them something. Every teacher, I had, everyone I interacted with, gave me something,” Bakhiet said.

From letting students’ feet run free to her plans for the future, Bakhiet is a wonderful new member of our Seabury Hall family, and the community looks forward to what she has to offer.