Chris DeMarino on MacDuffie’s Sale

MMI Holdings CEO Chris DeMarino discusses his company's plans for MacDuffie's future

MMI Holdings Chris DeMarino and Head of School Steve Griffin pose in front of the school steps. The two are collaborating on future plans for MacDuffie. Photo taken by Alana Ford.

MMI Holdings Chris DeMarino and Head of School Steve Griffin pose in front of the school steps. The two are collaborating on future plans for MacDuffie. Photo taken by Alana Ford.

Cassidy Polga, Editor-in-Chief

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“We’ve been sold!”

For the second time in five years, MacDuffie community members were blindsided by the news that we were being sold to a for-profit corporation. When we became for-profit five years ago under International EC., LLC, the sale included the move to our current Granby campus and introduced a lot of changes. This time, our new owner, Chris DeMarino, wants to stress that he and his company, MMI Holdings, have “purchased the school because we really like what we see here,” and that “any profits made will be re-invested in the school.”

DeMarino, who has an MBA in Business from Columbia and was the Director of Business Management at Dulwich College London for nine years, has a solid five year plan for the school, with student satisfaction being the primary motivator. At the top of the list is the construction of an Arts Center, something that has been a goal since we moved to Granby.

The holdup on breaking ground, says DeMarino, is due to a necessary project: the sewage treatment plant. There is a delay in the Department of Education offices, and DeMarino expressed frustration that he was not in control of the development timeline, but promised that he is “committed” to the project, and hopes to begin it in 2018.

MMI is also going to be taking the reins on overseas sister schools and “MacDuffie China,” an idea which had already been explored in Head of School Steve Griffin’s time. In five years, MMI hopes to establish 2-3 schools in Asia that incorporate elements of the MacDuffie curriculum and community. The Granby campus will be “the school on the hill for campuses that we grow overseas,” says DeMarino. He says that in his years working across Asia, he noticed that many schools “want an American education, but they don’t know what that is.” He hopes to remedy that by adapting the MacDuffie experience to make it transportable.

By next year, both DeMarino and Griffin aim to have “semi-AP classes” (unaffiliated with the College Board) that teach leadership and management, and are possibly tied to a nearby college.

DeMarino understands the uncertainty surrounding the sale, but wants to let community members know that he sees “no radical need for change,” and views MacDuffie as a great school that should keep its greatness intact. He welcomes feedback, and he plans to make use of the annual student surveys.

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Chris DeMarino on MacDuffie’s Sale