Kent School is proud to host Kudner Leyon Visiting Writer Jessica Lahey for a Town Hall meeting to discuss her New York Times bestselling book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. She will also share her thoughts on the gift of failure in this time of COVID. The session will be held virtually on Wednesday, January 27, at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom. The event is free and the public is invited to join. To reserve a space and receive a link to join, email no later than 4:00 p.m. on January 27.

According to her website, “Over her twenty years as a middle and high school teacher, Lahey began to suspect that the way we parent children has a direct impact on their motivation, learning, resilience, and the development of obsessive perfectionism and performance anxiety. A deep dive into the research bore this hypothesis out, and resulted in the New York Times bestselling book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed and over five years of helping students, teachers, and parents understand that directive parenting and teaching undermines kids’ motivation, makes them more likely to give up when tasks get difficult, and ultimately, renders them less able to learn and become more intelligent.

Lahey offers practical advice for fostering deep, meaningful learning by offering kids more autonomy at home and in school, helping them feel more competent, and strengthening parent-child and teacher-student relationships. Providing a path toward solutions, Lahey lays out a blueprint with targeted advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, and sports. Most importantly, she sets forth a plan to help parents learn to step back and embrace their children’s failures. Hard-hitting, yet warm and wise, The Gift of Failure is essential reading for parents, educators, and psychologists nationwide who want to help children succeed.”

Nancy Mugele, Head of Kent School said, “I am so pleased to bring Jess Lahey to our community. When I read her practical and insightful book, I was struck by her premise that parents have the power to grant students the freedom to fail, and teachers have the ability to transform that failure into an education. Together, parents and educators can nurture our children to become more confident and competent adults.”

In addition to her evening session, Lahey will also conduct an assembly with students in Grades 4 through 8 during the academic day on January 27, and a meeting specifically for Kent School faculty later that afternoon.

Jess Lahey is a teacher, writer, and mom. She writes about education, parenting, and child welfare for The Atlantic, Vermont Public Radio, The Washington Post and the New York Times, and is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. She is a member of the Amazon Studios Thought Leader Board and wrote the educational curriculum for Amazon Kids’ The Stinky and Dirty Show. Jessica earned a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts and a J.D. with a concentration in juvenile and education law from the University of North Carolina School of Law. She lives in Vermont with her husband and two sons. Her second book, The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence, will be released in April 2021.

Lahey’s talk is made possible by the Kudner Leyon Memorial Endowment at Kent School. This fund allows Kent School to bring authors, illustrators and experts in child development to campus each year to work with students, teachers, and parents. The Kudner Leyon Visiting Writers Program is named for Ariana Kudner and Amanda Leyon, members of Kent School’s Class of 1991, who shared a love of reading, books and creative writing. Sadly, Ariana and Amanda lost their lives in a tragic car accident in 1994. This program is a wonderful and lasting tribute to their legacy and touches every student at Kent School each academic year.

Kent School serves children from Preschool through Grade Eight on its scenic campus on the bank of the Chester River in historic Chestertown. For more information call 410-778-4100 ext. 110 or visit

January 11, 2021
Contact: Tricia Cammerzell
Assistant Head of School for Advancement
410-778-4100 ext. 110