What is the timeline for the search? The search will begin in March with on-campus meetings with our search firm, Brigham Hill. The consultants will meet with a wide variety of Shipley constituents, and the product of these conversations and an online survey will be the search profile, which describes the school, the position, and the qualities we seek in the next Head of School. The search firm will use that information to identify prospective candidates and will report back to the Search Committee sometime in late May or early June. During the summer break, the consultants will personally interview a number of prospective candidates and will provide detailed written reports to the Search Committee in advance of meeting with the committee to determine semifinalist candidates. During the latter part of the summer, the Search Committee will interview semifinalists, with the hope that finalists will be invited for meetings with a broader range of constituents in the fall. If all goes well, the school will come to an agreement with one of the candidates and an announcement will be made during the fall. The new Head of School will take office officially in July 2019.
Why does the search take so long? Head of school searches are unique. A number of factors have combined over the years to make the above timetable typical for any head of school search. These factors include contracts between schools and their heads, the custom of a head of school providing substantial notice to his or her school, the desire for the entire school community to be involved in the search, the need for candidates and Search Committees to have time for deliberation and reflection, and scheduling issues.
What is the role of the Board of Trustees in the search for the permanent Head of School? What is the role of the Search Committee? What roles will colleagues, parents, students, alumni, and other constituents have in the process? The Board of Trustees is responsible for ensuring long-term success and sustainability of the school; one of the Board’s most important responsibility is hiring the Head of School, who in turn is responsible for the day-to-day management and leadership of the school.
The Search Committee is tasked with identifying and evaluating candidates for the Head of School position and making a final recommendation to the Board of Trustees. The Board as a whole then votes on the appointment of the candidate as Head of School.
While the Board is responsible for the ultimate decision-making in the search process, the opinions and insights of colleagues, students, parents, alumni, and others are critical to the process. Opportunities for various stakeholders to provide input about the school and the qualities sought in the next Head of School are discussed below.
How was the Search Committee appointed? In considering how best to comprise our Search Committee, the Board of Trustees consulted a variety of sources. The Search Committee is comprised of a majority of current and past Board members, who are current and former parents and in some cases also alumni. To ensure that the search benefits from the perspectives of colleagues who are engaged in the daily life of the school, two colleagues have also been appointed to the committee. Specific qualities sought in Search Committee members include the ability to think about the school from a strategic perspective, to balance long- and short-term goals, to devote the substantial time necessary at various stages of the process, and to maintain confidentiality in order to ensure candidates’ willingness to enter into conversations about the opportunity.
Who is the search firm?
Brigham Hill Consultancy is a retained executive search firm that serves only not-for-profit organizations, and specializes in independent school head of school and senior administrative searches. The firm’s founder and president, Linc Eldredge, will lead our search in partnership with his colleague, Jessica McCann. Brigham Hill is a national firm with clients across the country. More about the firm can be found online at www.brighamhill.com
How can I express my opinions about the search?
The first opportunity to provide input is during Brigham Hill’s on-campus visit on March 1-3. For those who cannot attend the in-person meetings or who have additional input to share, we will also provide an online questionnaire. Responses go directly to Brigham Hill Consultancy. The firm will review all responses and provide the Search Committee with suggestions, opinions, and insights gleaned from the questionnaires. We have also established an email address: HoSSearch@shipleyschool.org
and you are also encouraged to share your thoughts and questions directly to this email.
Will the Search Committee consider a diverse group of candidates? How will diversity be important in the process? The Search Committee and the Board of Trustees are committed to attracting and meeting candidates of diverse backgrounds with regards to race, gender, ethnicity, and other personal qualities and with regards to professional experience. We have expressed this as a priority to the search firm and they are committed to presenting us with well-qualified candidates who meet these criteria. We have been working closely with the search firm to understand the myriad influences on a school’s ability to generate a diverse candidate pool and to ensure they and we are employing strategies not only to attract diverse candidates but also to ensure that they are given full consideration. Because men of color and women of all races are still underrepresented at the head of school level, particularly in PK-12 schools, one important strategy will be remaining open to the possibility of a first-time head of school or leaders from outside of the independent school field who may bring the skills, knowledge, and personal qualities we are seeking.
The Board seeks to hire a Head of School who genuinely values diversity, consistent with the values of the Shipley community, and who will support the School’s continued growth in these areas. One of our current Trustees has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the specific areas of diversity and inclusion and we are pleased that Karlene McRae has agreed to serve as a special advisor to the Search Committee. Karlene is currently Dean of the College at Colby with direct responsibility for campus-wide diversity and civic engagement efforts. She is a former associate dean of students and executive director of the Center for Identity and Inclusion at the University of Chicago and, just prior, was Director of Student Affairs at Swarthmore College.
We look forward to continued conversations with and input from the Shipley community as the search progresses and encourage all members of the community to participate in the forthcoming online survey.
What information will the Search Committee share with the school community regarding the progress and the candidates being considered? The Search Committee will provide periodic updates and communicate the general progress of the search throughout the process, and is committed to being as transparent as possible. In order to protect the current positions of candidates, however, the committee cannot disclose the names of people under consideration or when they will be in town for the first round of interviews. Finalist interviews may include members of the school community beyond the Search Committee, depending on the degree of confidentiality required by the candidates.
How will members of the Shipley community be involved in the search process? The search firm will visit campus on March 1-3 for meetings with a wide variety of constituents, including colleagues, parents, alumni, students, board members, and other friends of Shipley. While the consultants will share details about the search process, their primary goal will be to learn about our school, to gather input about the short- and long-term priorities for Shipley, and to hear what qualities community members believe the next Head of School should possess. These conversations will inform the search profile, which will be used to promote the position. In addition, there will be an online survey through which community members can offer similar input about our school’s future and our next leader.
It is the Search Committee’s hope that the finalist stage of the search will also include similar involvement from a broad range of Shipley constituents. However, our consultants have advised us that candidates are increasingly concerned about confidentiality even at the finalist stage of a search process. It is important to keep in mind that, while the finalists may have disclosed their candidacies to their direct supervisors, it can be very disruptive to a school community if teachers, staff members, parents, and students were also to learn that their head or another key administrator is involved in a search. The Search Committee may be faced with a choice between having a more “closed” process or losing exceptional candidates. The committee is committed to having as much involvement as possible from stakeholders beyond the Search Committee at the finalist stage, but we will have to make a determination about the structure of the finalist visits later in the search process.
Should the candidates be current heads of school? Very possibly, but not necessarily. There are obvious benefits to recruiting someone who has already been a head because he or she would have learned quite a bit about the role, would undoubtedly have made some mistakes and learned from them, and presumably would bring maturity and perspective to the school. On the other hand, someone who has been an assistant head of school or division head with notable authority and autonomy, who has been well mentored, who has experiences that are sought by Shipley, and whose leadership manner and style are compelling, would also be of great interest. And there is also the possibility of a non-traditional candidate. The search is structured to invite a variety of prospective candidates, both sitting heads and others, and the Search Committee will evaluate each candidate on his or her own merits to determine whether or not to continue discussions with a given individual.
Is this a national search? Yes, and a global search as well. There is intense competition across the country for accomplished educational leaders. Thus we will invite candidates from any and all geographic areas. We recognize that our region and city are unique and, accordingly, we will seek people whose temperaments, values, and personal styles are compatible with our culture.
Will there be an interim Head of School?
The Search Committee’s goal is to hire a permanent Head of School to be in place by June 2019. That said, the Board’s process does allow for the appointment of an interim head if in the course of the search it is determined that such an appointment is advisable.
Will the future direction of Shipley change with a new Head of School?
The Board is fully committed to the future direction laid out in the Strategic Plan, including the adoption of Positive Education. During the Strategic Planning process, the Board reaffirmed the School’s commitment to its mission: educational excellence, compassionate participation in the world, and developing in each student a love of learning. As a school, we have always been committed to educational excellence and character development – development of the whole person, and that will not change. That said, of course new leadership will bring a new perspective on how best to attain our goals and we are looking forward to welcoming Shipley’s 10th Head of School.