December 14, 2017 – Independent schools continue to be a wellspring of assignments for recruitment firms that specialize in the non-profit sector. Brigham Hill Consultancy has been particularly busy in recent months, taking on and filling leadership roles for a cross-section of private schools from across the country.
The Dallas-based recruiter recently filled the head of school role for Seattle Country Day School (SCDS) in Washington State, and took on searches for a head of the lower school at St. John’s School in Houston and the head of school for Beauvoir, an elementary school on the grounds of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
With the pending retirement of Michael G. Murphy, Kimberly A. Zaidberg was named head of school for Seattle Country Day, effective July 1 of next year. “The board unanimously confirmed Ms. Zaidberg’s appointment following the enthusiastic recommendation of the head of school search committee,” said Ramona Emerson, the president of the school’s board of trustees. “Ms. Zaidberg’s warmth, passion, vision, and outstanding record make it clear she possesses the key attributes and qualities necessary to guide SCDS successfully in the next exciting phase of its evolution.”
Among its criteria for the role, Seattle Country Day wanted to ensure that the school continued to excel in its mission to “inspire gifted children to reach their potential through inquiry, curiosity, and wonder,” said SCDS. It also specified that the individual who won the job “promote and embody the school’s values, safeguard its operational and financial health, and guide the natural evolution of its culture and programs.”
During its nearly year-long search, Brigham Hill Consultancy found an impressive array of candidates from across the country, said the school.
An Impressive Finalist
Ms. Zaidberg, said SCDS, is in her seventh year as head of school at Rockland Country Day School, a pre-K through 12 school in Congers, NY. Previously, she served as the founding middle school principal of Girls Prep Charter School and as middle school principal of Connelly Middle School of the Holy Child, both in New York City.
“During her finalist visit in September, Ms. Zaidberg impressed faculty, staff, parents, and trustees with her intellect, creativity, interpersonal skills, empathy, warmth, and experience in all facets of school leadership and management,” said Ms. Emerson. “She demonstrated a respect for SCDS’s history, mission, and leadership in the field of gifted and inquiry-based education, as well as the forward-thinking mindset and creativity necessary to inspire teachers, students, parents, and alumni while ensuring our school’s continued growth.”
Ms. Zaidberg said Seattle Country Day embodied what she was looking for in a new challenge. She was looking for a school that revolved around the intellectual, social, and emotional needs of its students. “I sought a school whose pedagogical underpinnings prioritized deep learning through the pursuit of questions and the application and creation of ideas,” she said. “I endeavored to find a community of educators who, like me, believed in the beauty and necessity of being a diverse community, committed to equity and inclusion. I was captivated by the level of inquiry and discourse in classrooms; I was inspired by the intentionality of the community to be student-centered and socially conscious; I was moved by the warmth and commitment I felt from every single person I encountered.”
Brigham Hill Consultancy, meanwhile, continues to search for a head for the lower school at St. John’s School. The successful candidate, said the search firm, will be someone who can provide guidance and direction to what has been a well-functioning division.
A Time of Growth
This is a time of growth for the Houston independent school, said Brigham Hill. The school recently completed its “Opportunity of a Lifetime Campaign,” which contributed both to its endowment and facilities improvements, including construction and renovation of a number of buildings on campus. A new 6,300-square-foot multipurpose hall is expected to be completed next spring. The facility, which will serve as a gathering and fine arts space, will be a particular benefit to the lower school, said the search firm. Also forthcoming is construction of a new lower school building that will enable the division to increase enrollment while maintaining small class sizes.
The new head of the lower school, who will report to the associate headmaster, will oversee all aspects of the lower school, including curriculum and program development; faculty recruitment, support, and evaluation; scheduling; budgeting; and admissions, said Brigham Hill Consultancy. The individual is also expected to foster a warm, welcoming, and positive culture in which both students and teachers are supported in their growth.
St John’s is looking for a collaborative manager who values the expertise and input of others but also has the confidence to establish a clear direction, hold others accountable, and make difficult decisions, said the search firm. The individual should also be “a warm, open and genuine person who leads by virtue of being an active presence in the lower school and whose intelligence and expertise engender the trust and support of faculty, staff, and parents,” said Brigham Hill.
St. John’s wants a strategic thinker. The new head of the lower school should be someone who moves seamlessly between “big picture” issues and day-to-day operations, who delegates appropriately while retaining responsibility for the success of the lower school, and who balances the needs of the division with the priorities of the entire school, said the search firm.
Candidates should have at least 15 years of experience in teaching and administrative roles in elementary education, the recruiters said. Also required is a history of working effectively and collaboratively with multiple constituencies, a background that includes developing innovative curriculum and programs, supporting faculty members in refining instructional practices, and delivering effective professional growth and evaluation programs. Ideally, prospects will have exposure to administrative areas such as scheduling and budget management.
Recruiting Private School Leaders Growing Sector for Search
Linc Eldredge, Brigham Hill’s president, has a long history recruiting in the non-profit sector. He served as an executive search consultant for 18 years with Heidrick & Struggles, Ward Howell, and LAI Worldwide. Here are some excerpts from a recent discussion with Mr. Eldredge on the nuances of recruiting private school leadership.
Brigham Hill Consultancy, meanwhile, is also searching for a permanent head of school for Beauvoir, who is expected to start in July. Michael Eanes, a veteran independent school administrator, is currently serving as interim head, his 10th such role.
The head of school, who reports to Beauvoir’s board of governors, is charged with responsibility for the continued success and programmatic, operational, cultural, and financial health of the school. The individual is expected to see that the school meets its mission of “encouraging creative, courageous learners and building an enduring foundation for a lifelong spirit of inquiry and joy in learning within a diverse community that values every child and adult,” said the search firm.
Among his or her responsibilities, Beauvoir’s new head of school is expected to provide strategic leadership in the continued implementation of the school’s strategic plan and in developing future plans, as well as generally leading the Beauvoir community in affirming a shared vision for the school, said Brigham Hill.
The individual should also foster a warm, welcoming and inclusive community in which each individual is respected and safe and in which both similarities and differences are celebrated, said the search firm. The school wants a leader who is visible, approachable and accessible, as well as engaged in the daily life of Beauvoir.
Among the role’s responsibilities, the head of school is also charged with building and sustaining authentic and constructive relationships with students, parents, faculty, administrators, board members and leaders from the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, said the search firm. It is also important that the head of school see that Beauvoir remains at the forefront of early childhood and elementary education by guiding academic and other program development and supporting the incorporation of new research and developments in education consistent with the school’s mission and educational philosophy.
Candidates should have at least seven years of experience as a head of school, assistant head of school, division head or comparable leader in an independent school, ideally with a focus on early childhood and elementary education and a prior background in teaching, said Brigham Hill. Prospects should also have built a career that includes the continual review and revision of curricula and programs to ensure that a school maintains the highest level of academic quality.
A Thriving Area
Prospects should have experience recruiting, retaining, and managing faculty and staff; delivering relevant and effective professional development and evaluation programs; encouraging teacher leadership; and fostering a positive and growth-oriented faculty and staff culture, said the recruiters.
Brigham Hill Consultancy, led by founder Linc Eldredge, specializes in recruiting leaders for not-for-profit organizations, including cultural institutions, foundations and human service organizations. But it is the firm’s concentration on finding leaders for independent schools that is thriving.
The search firm has worked with an impressive roster of independent schools, including Epiphany School, Fort Worth Academy, the American School in London, St. Paul Academy and Summit School, Charles Wright Academy, Tower Hill School, the Bolles School, Montgomery Bell Academy, the Bush School, the Holton-Arms School, the Hockaday School, Providence Day School, National Presbyterian School, Columbus School for Girls, Lake Forest Country Day School, and Sonoma Academy.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media