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View from Quevedo

By Craig Gemmell, Head of School

Quevedo: (n) a station of Line 2 of the Madrid Metro.It is named after Francisco de Quevedo, a  writer from the Spanish Golden Age.

A year ago I spent my days moving about at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, US. Snow covered the campus landscape, and students and adults alike participated in the same act of living and learning together that has happened for more than two centuries at this wonderful school on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. Yet even though I am typically enchanted by the New England winters, last year I found myself dreaming of Madrid.

Flash forward a year and I’m now in our temporary office , just steps from our beautiful historic campus in the heart of Chamberi. The physical energy that surrounds me here echoes the energy in my heart as we work to bring the best of American education to Madrid. There are trains running around the clock underground, cars and cycles circumnavigating the grand roundabout, and people flowing endlessly from place to place along its circumference. 

The juxtaposition of the now and the eternal– the intense presence of movement by people and machines through this area, yet Quevedo, the poet himself, literally–in statute form–stands ageless in limestone at the center of all of the movement. I am struck by the relevance of his words: 

​​¡Fue sueño ayer; mañana será tierra!

¡Poco antes, nada; y poco después, humo!

¡Y destino ambiciones, y presumo

apenas punto al cerco que me cierra!


Yesterday a dream; tomorrow dust!  

Nothing, just before; just after, smoke!  

I plot out ambitions, and can see

the singular point of that circling looms!  


We are BUSY in Quevedo. We circle and progress because we know the singular point of our work and are fueled by urgency; we circle and progress. The founding team of Brewster Madrid had a dream what seemed like just yesterday and today we are grounded by a few clear ambitions: to launch a remarkable school that changes lives, one that leverages Brewster’s 200 years of success across the Atlantic; to embed ourselves with humility and gratitude in the culture and climate of Quevedo, Chamberi, and Madrid more broadly; to become a part of this community we’ve come to love. 

And so we work. Meeting relentlessly with prospective students and families about our offering and what makes it both special and powerful in transforming students. We are also listening to them deeply to tailor our program to Madrid and learning more about what is important to them. In order to realize our vision of offering a humanistic and meaningful education, we are transforming our spaces to support student-centered pedagogy, and also investigating and building critical partners to leverage the manifold opportunities and resources in Madrid as an integral component of our program.

Momentum builds. We’ve hired our first teachers, admitted our first students; our program is both nuanced and sharply distinctive. Our campus is morphing from what it was to what it will become, yet there remains and will remain a timeless, grounding beauty to it. I discern a smile from Quevedo, standing on his platform above it all, smiling and watching through his nez-pince glasses. 

More coming. I will use this channel to provide specific updates and some broader thoughts about Brewster Madrid and our work in launching it correctly as we progress together.

"No restriction shall be placed upon any person desiring to attend and receive instruction from said school or academy on account of his or her age, sex, or color, provided only he or she is of good moral character."

John Brewster.