April 10, 2017
Dear Friends’ School Community,
Please take a moment to read this first update on the search for Friends’ next Head of School. I warmly invite you to participate as the search formally gets underway.
The Community Board, which is responsible for hiring and supporting the Head of School, has moved quickly to take steps to ensure that we will have an inclusive, thorough, and professional search for our next Head.
The Board has formed a Search Committee of trustees and staff to conduct the head search and to recommend a candidate to the Board. The Search Committee includes trustees Maureen Espinoza, Elizabeth Henna, Diane Hullet, Anne Hunter, Mindy Mullins, Howard Rubin, and Chris Wirth; teachers Liz Richards and Jessie Vanden Hogen; and administrative staff member Meg Hansen. Friends’ three Founder Trustees, Bev Cole, Larry Gold, and Hope Morrissett, are also members of the Search Committee.
The Board has retained consultant Jacob Dresden of Carney, Sandoe & Associates to assist Friends’ in our search. Carney, Sandoe is the biggest and most well-known head and educator search firm, and we are pleased that our search will benefit from Carney’s extensive resources in attracting excellent applicants. What made our decision, though, was not the big search firm, but the personal and professional qualities of Jake himself.
Jake is warm, engaging, and extremely knowledgeable about and experienced with head searches. He served as a long-time head and assistant head himself over several decades in independent schools. He conducted a successful search for another Colorado independent school and has a son who is a long-time teacher and now an administrator at Graland in Denver, so he is familiar with the landscape of independent schools in our state. A veteran of several progressive schools, Jake has a deep understanding of schools with open and collaborative cultures such as Friends’, and he has a strong affinity for working with those schools. He eagerly seeks to learn as much as he can about a school, from as many people as he can, and I know he will do his best to understand our leadership needs and desires for our next Head of School.
Jake will be visiting Friends’ School next Tuesday and Wednesday, April 18 & 19. During his visit, he will attend community events, tour both campuses, and meet our wonderful teachers and staff. There will also be two opportunities for parents and other community members, including alumni students, alumni parents, and former trustees, to meet Jake, provide input into our search process, and ask questions. I highly encourage you to attend if you are able. Please note these two events:
6:30-7:30 PM, Tuesday, April 18: Open House for alumni, alumni parents, former trustees, and current parents not able to attend Parent Council forum
8:45-9:45 AM, Wednesday, April 19: Parent Council forum for all current parents
Both of these events will take place in the Great Room in the elementary building on the South Campus.
As the search progresses, the Search Committee will continue to keep the community informed, and there will be opportunities for everyone to meet and provide feedback on finalists in September. The search process will also include use of a Search Support Committee to interview finalists during their visit to campus and to provide direct feedback to the Search Committee. This group will not rank finalists or make the final decision on a candidate but will provide critical feedback to the Search Committee and will also play an important role in hosting the finalists during their 2-day visits to campus. The group will comprise representatives of many school constituencies including parents, teachers and staff. We anticipate that the Community Board will announce the appointment of the new Head of School in October and will then begin planning for a smooth transition of school leadership in the summer of 2018.
I am grateful to Steve for his commitment to making the transition to a new Head of School as smooth as possible. He has given the community ample notice for us to be able to do a comprehensive search for the next Head. Equally importantly, after the appointment of a new Head, the entire school will have time to plan and conduct a thoughtful and inclusive transition process. Steve’s support of the search and transition process has already proven invaluable, and his dedication to Friends’ will continue at full strength for the next 15 months at the school. He has also promised to remain available into the tenure of the new Head of School. While change is rarely easy, I am confident that his involvement will contribute to a successful start for our next Head.
My fellow trustees and I know the selection of the next Head of Friends’ School is perhaps the most important decision we will make during our time on the Community Board, and we take that responsibility very seriously. I hope and trust that the search process we are beginning, with help from each of you and all members of our community, will lead Friends’ to an exciting new chapter in the school’s history. I look forward to sharing that journey with you.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Chair, Friends’ School Community Board