Meet Our Head of School Meera Viswanathan

Meera Viswanathan

Dr. Meera Viswanathan joins Walker's from Brown University, where she was an Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies. A lifelong educator and scholar, Meera holds her undergraduate degree, her M.A. and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. Meera was born in Madras, India and emigrated at age five to Los Angeles.

Meera joined Brown University as a Japan Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies departments. Subsequently, she became an assistant professor and was promoted with tenure. Meera, who is fluent in seven languages including French, German, Latin, Classical Greek, Old English and Old Norse, received several National Endowment for the Humanities grants and awards while at Brown.

Meera and her husband, Dr. Eric Widmer, former head of school at Deerfield Academy, were asked by King Abdullah II of Jordan to establish the Middle East's first co-educational college preparatory boarding school with financial aid. The school opened in 2007. Meera served as the school's principal architect of the curriculum and dean of faculty. King Abdullah II personally awarded Meera the King Hussein Medal, Jordan's highest honor, for her endeavors.

Meera, or "Ms. Vis" as she's known to students, began her tenure as head of The Ethel Walker School on July 1, 2016.

Meera on Walker's

Meera Viswanathan with students

"Walker's beckoned me in a way that few schools have ever done. I found its ethos, energy, and devotion to learning irresistible. I was born in Madras, South India, near the island of Sri Lanka, known in medieval times as Serendip, from which we derive our word 'serendipity.' Discovering Walker's was unexpected and fortuitous, pure serendipity for me.

If destiny is the rendezvous between readiness and opportunity, Walker's indeed has much to look forward to. But that future lies, first and foremost, in being true to the past. Founded as a standard-bearer of girls' education in 1911, may it continue, amid the numerous challenges evident in the world around us - from socio-economic upheaval and environmental changes to advents in technology - to be a flagship of teaching and learning for young women. May every one of our future hours be golden."

Meera on Girls' Education

Meera Viswanathan on girls' education

"During my decades of teaching at the university level, I encountered many students who had attended a girls' school. I marveled at their confidence and poise, which seemed a trademark of those graduates. Sure enough, at Walker's, whether in class, the dorms, or on the fields, I saw wonderfully strong and capable young women with little time for self-doubt. Every girl is celebrated and cherished, and everyone cheers for one another. This is my kind of community!

John Dewey's comment that 'Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself' has always struck me as exactly right. The idea that education is merely instrumental misses the point entirely. Education brings knowing and being into alignment. And what we come to know at Walker's ultimately is ourselves, both the being and the becoming."

Meera on Leadership

Meera Viswanathan on leadership

"Leadership entails the ability to forge a path, to clear the way, both for oneself and for others; it is fundamentally relational. Consider the classic V-formation of geese in the autumn sky: the birds take turns assuming the lead position in order to provide an upwash for their fellow travelers. In this way, leadership is not a fixed or rigid role. It recognizes that the needs of the group require each individual to assume responsibility for the welfare of the whole at the appropriate time, leading them out and beyond."

Investiture Highlights

On October 14, 2016, Dr. Meera Viswanathan was honored at an investiture ceremony marking the beginning of her service as the head of The Ethel Walker School. Meera, most recently an associate professor of comparative literature and East Asian Studies at Brown University, was appointed after a national search. Read More

Meera in the Media


CPTV - Sharing Connecticut's "Women's Work: Stories Behind the Movement"
Meera is featured in the first episode of “Women’s Work: Stories Behind the Movement,” a six-part multimedia series from Connecticut Public, featuring the stories of local women who share a common desire to be part of a collective effort – serving as leaders, trailblazers, artists, educators, advocates and entrepreneurs. Watch Video

Hartford Magazine
Read a January 2019 article in Hartford Magazine about Meera's vision for educating, emboldening and inspiring girls at Walker's: Read More


Simsbury Public TV
During the summer of 2018, Meera was a guest on Simsbury Community Television's "The Simsbury Woman" with Sheila Guilloton. She spoke about her background, the School's founding, the value of girls' education, women's leadership, and the equestrian program at Walker's. Listen

KZSU Stanford FM
Meera did an extended interview with the Stanford University radio station KZSU Stanford in January 2018 for their Modern Tek News program about education in the 21st Century. She also commented on how she, faculty and staff mentor girls at Walker's to foster an environment of leadership. She shared her thoughts on the role that parents play in their daughters' education and how joy and happiness are critical factors in learning. Listen


WNPR's "Where We Live" with Lucy Nalpathanchil
Meera Viswanathan spoke with Lucy Nalpathanchil of WNPR's "Where We Live" about the value of girls' education and her vision for Walker's students. Listen



Publications by Meera


The Journey"Education by Design" (Moffly Media Education Guide)


Unity & Character"Fire. Earth. Water. Air. Elemental Memories of School Life" (Moffly Media Independent School Guide)


Beyond Bread and Cheese"Beyond Bread and Cheese: An Artisinal Approach to Teaching and Learning" (Moffly Media Independent School Guide)

Meera's Travel Notes

Jordan Trip - October 2017

Tuesday, October 10

Jordan is all about education. Apart from King's Academy where we are staying, we have visited two other schools here, Ahliyyah School for Girls and met with their remarkable Heads of School, both leaders in the field of education.

Read more about Tuesday, October 10