Ayla Gavins

Ayla Gavins is the principal of the Mission Hill K-8 School in Boston’s Mission Hill district. Originally from a small town near the Pittsburgh area, Ayla began her education career in the Wayland (MA) Public Schools system, moving on to teach in Newton and then in Boston.

Ayla cites her senior year of high school apprenticeship to an elementary teacher and a captivating biology teacher as critical influences in setting the path for her life’s work as an educator. After high school she moved to Boston to attend the School of Education at Boston University, followed by a Master’s Degree from Northeastern.

She was one of the staff members selected for the newly-founded Mission Hill School, one of the early Boston Pilot Schools, created as part of a unique agreement among the school department, community groups and the union, spawning similar efforts in Los Angeles and other cities. Mission Hill chose to use its Pilot status to explore a portfolio-based, constructivist approach to teaching and learning, staff-based decision-making and governance and active participation in the Coalition of Essential Schools.

Under the guidance of Deborah Meier, Ayla graduated from the Greater Boston Principal Residency Network, co-sponsored by Northeastern University and the Center for Collaborative Education. She succeeded Ms. Meier as principal of Mission Hill in 2006. Ms. Gavins also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Farm School, and is an active member of the Pilot School Leadership Network and Mass Audubon.

Ayla, her husband, and her daughter live in Dorchester, Mass, where they are active in making and viewing art, care deeply about environmental issues, and see physical fitness as a priority.