Ms. Nicole McDermott


This is Ms. McDermott’s 18th year at Pinecrest School and 17th leading our school community!


Nicole McDermott grew up in a small town forty minutes south of Boston, Massachusetts, and that’s the area where her parents and most of her family remain.  She is Auntie Nicki to Ruby and Claire (ages 18 and 16) who live in Wisconsin, three godsons (twins Riley and Luke, age 13, and their 7-year-old brother, Murphy) who live nearby in Fairfax County (and usually come to Pinecrest Pavilion at least a week every summer), and a handful of other children whose parents are her closest friends.


Ms. McDermott graduated from George Mason University in May 2015 with her M.Ed – a master’s degree in education leadership.  At graduation, she was the sole student recognized with the College of Education and Human Development Graduate School of Education academic award for the education leadership program.  She earned a certificate in Positive Leadership in 2017 and is currently enrolled in a Leadership Coaching/Organizational Well-being certificate program, both through George Mason University. Her B.S. degree is from Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, where she graduated magna cum laude in 2001 as an elementary education major and an English/journalism minor. Including her college student teaching at The Pennfield School in Rhode Island, all of Ms. McDermott’s professional teaching experience has been in quality independent or private schools.


She taught kindergarten in Massachusetts, and after relocating to Northern Virginia in 2002, worked for two years at the former Fairfax Brewster School in Bailey’s Crossroads, teaching second grade and then serving as Assistant Head of School.  Ms. McDermott came to Pinecrest for the 2004-05 school year as the third grade teacher.  That third grade class (Pinecrest’s Class of 2007) was a dynamic group of children and parents; their warm embrace made her sure that she chose well with Pinecrest.


In June 2005, Ms. McDermott became Pinecrest’s sixth Head of School. She’s very proud of the many ways Pinecrest has grown and changed during her leadership – achieving accreditation for the first time in 2008 (and subsequent very successful re-accreditations in 2013 and 2018), launching a summer camp and later winter and spring camps/care, creating after-school activity options, improving school culture with mindfulness, redesigning enrichment classes to include S.T.E.A.M. and increased PE, Growing Our School and opening our new lower school building in December 2017, and safely and successfully offering in-person learning five days during a global pandemic (since August 25, 2020, the school has experienced only two cases of COVID-19 with no transmission). Pinecrest School has been recognized with many honors over the past sixteen years – including Best STEM Program and Best Private Elementary School by Family Magazine and, for the fifth consecutive year, Best Summer Camp by Northern Virginia Magazine. (Read more of our public recognition and honors here.) During many of her Head years, Ms. McDermott has also taught in some capacity (including library for both preschool and K-6, camp classes, and co-teaching fourth and sixth grade – with our Class of 2009, our first sixth grade class!).  She has advised our K-Kids Club since its inception. (K-Kids is currently on hold during the pandemic.)


In high school, Ms. McDermott began her life-changing affiliation with Kiwanis International – “a global community of clubs, members and partners dedicated to improving the lives of children one community at a time.”  It is the parent organization of many student-led, youth organizations, including Key Club in high schools and Circle K in colleges.  Ms. McDermott was a member of both, serving her communities and leading in various roles throughout high school and college.  After college, she joined Kiwanis and has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Tysons since 2002.  One of the best parts of her Kiwanis experience has been the opportunity to mentor and work with young leaders.  For ten years, Ms. McDermott worked with high school student leaders at the club, district, and international levels of Key Club, both in Capital (Virginia, D.C., Maryland and Delaware) and New England. In July 2019, she rejoined the District Adult Committee for the New England District of Key Clubs, where she works with the young adults serving in leadership positions on the district level and supports planning and execution of the annual district educational conference. In her prior role with Capital District Key Club, she directly oversaw all logistics and programming for five years for the Capital District Key Club leadership conference, an annual event attended by 1000+ students and adults.  Additionally, from 2008-2012, Ms. McDermott managed the Capital District’s values-centered, leadership development weekends for high school students.  During this time, Ms. McDermott was responsible for seven Kiwanis Key Leader weekend events that served 521 high school students from three states and the District of Columbia. It is one of her proudest accomplishments to have helped so many young adults grow, believe in themselves, and connect to their values through this program.  Bringing K-Kids, Kiwanis’ branch for elementary students, to Pinecrest in 2010-11 for second through sixth graders was the icing on the cake of her Kiwanis Family experience and has provided continued opportunities to mentor young leaders.  Over the years, Ms. McDermott has been recognized with many different honors at all levels of the Kiwanis organization (including the prestigious Key Club International President’s Award in 2014), and she was incredibly honored to give the keynote speech to 900+ high school students and their advisors at the 2017 New England District Key Club Educational Conference.  In 2018, the Pinecrest School K-Kids Club was asked by Kiwanis International to pilot a new program and was then featured afterwards in video and print.  Kiwanis Magazine recently highlighted Ms. McDermott and her work at Pinecrest during the pandemic here.


In addition to volunteering through Kiwanis, Ms. McDermott spends her spare time reading, relaxing, writing, baking, traveling (when it’s not a global pandemic), staying connected with people she loves, and supporting causes that are important to her (particularly Camp Sunshine, a retreat on Sebago Lake in Maine for critically-ill children and their families, where she volunteered for a week each summer from 2009 until 2019).  Ms. McDermott loves all things related to New England, Oprah Winfrey, the color pink, kayaking, and leadership, and she’s inspired by Marianne Williamson, Tony Robbins, Anna Quindlen, and most notably Dr. Brené Brown (and was so proud to be a student in her classroom – literally! – in 2019 as part of the inaugural team of Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitators; now, Ms. McDermott shares the  Dare to Lead™ work with other schools and non-profits looking to build courage, increase empathy, and more through her company, Quality Matters).  Ms. McDermott meditates every day (she celebrated her 1500th consecutive day of meditation in July 2021!) and she believes we can all do hard things.  Ms. McDermott considers herself an emergent runner, and she has a blog.  She wants to write a book someday.


At the top of Ms. McDermott’s core values list are quality, community and connection, efficiency, choosing courage over comfort, giving her best at all times, making a difference, caring for our earth, and continuing to grow into a better version of herself.  She has always felt that teaching is much more of a vocation rather than her occupation.