Dear Members of the RCDS Community,
As the academic year comes to a close, I am writing to provide an update on our Head of School search and to detail some of the work that will take place during the summer and early fall as we seek to identify Scott Nelson’s successor.
Educators’ Collaborative (EC) consultants Deirdre Ling and John Mackenzie engaged in 32 virtual “listening sessions” in March with RCDS parents, employees, administrators, trustees, alums, and students. In addition, a broad representation of our community completed the online survey, providing invaluable feedback regarding the state of the School and the direction of the search. This community input proved essential in helping EC and RCDS put together a position prospectus (Information for Candidates report) to encourage candidates to apply for the Head of School position. The Future Leadership section, which sets out the qualities we seek in our next Head of School, can be viewed here.
Since late spring, EC has been actively engaged in building a strong candidate pool and then vetting the candidates through preliminary interviews and reference checks. While the candidates’ full application materials are not due until July 15, here are some initial reactions that Dr. Ling and Mr. Mackenzie have culled:
- RCDS’s reputation is well known, and the School is highly regarded nationally and even internationally in the independent school world.
- The candidate pool is building well, reflecting an impressive range of experience. Applicants include experienced heads of school and senior administrators at other independent schools, as well as educational leaders in public and parochial schools, and, notably, college/university administrators.
- The effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the national political climate are being felt in the search environment, leading some potential candidates to be more interested in alternate opportunities, while others feel a greater need to continue the work at their current schools.
- RCDS is one of many similar independent schools nationally that are conducting searches on a comparable timeline. It is not unusual for strong candidates to be engaged in multiple searches simultaneously; our Search Committee will need to be alert to the considerations of that competitive landscape.
In early August, the Search Committee will review candidate information presented by our consultants and select eight to ten candidates for preliminary, confidential interviews to take place later that month. During the course of this semi-finalist stage, the Search Committee will have the opportunity to conduct thorough in-person interviews, to deliberate extensively, and to develop deep insights about each candidate before bringing forward a select group of finalists who will visit campus in September. As explained in my earlier communications, out of respect for candidate privacy, all communications with candidates and all interviews prior to the finalist stage will be handled in a confidential manner by EC and the Search Committee. We are currently targeting mid/late September for those finalist visits, with a goal for the full Board of Trustees to select the next Head of School in the early fall. As a reminder, the Head-Elect will not officially assume responsibilities at RCDS until July 1, 2022, upon the conclusion of Scott Nelson’s tenure. However, the transition process will commence as soon as the Head-Elect is named. When possible, the Head-Elect will consult with Mr. Nelson on significant hiring decisions and visit campus for key events throughout the remainder of the school year to acclimate to the culture of the School.
Another task to be completed this summer is finalizing the composition of the search Advisory Committee, a group of approximately fifteen representatives from various school constituencies that will conduct formal interviews with each of the finalists when they visit campus. I received nominations and referrals for more than 100 potential members for the Advisory Committee, reflecting tremendous engagement by our community in the search process. While it will not be possible to include all those nominees as committee members, I am working closely with our consultants, the School, and trustee leaders to assemble a committee of individuals who will serve as excellent ambassadors for RCDS in meeting with candidates.
Looking ahead, all stakeholders who wish to meet the finalist candidates will have an opportunity to do so. The School will hold a number of forums for different stakeholders to meet with finalists as part of the finalists’ visit schedules. Closer to the finalists’ school visits, we will send out a schedule for when each constituent group will have an opportunity to meet with the candidates. Those who meet with finalists will then be invited to complete a confidential survey offering their impressions, which will be collected and collated by our consultants. These will be shared with the Search Committee without individual attribution.
I will continue to provide updates as the search progresses and look forward to working together to identify Rye Country Day’s next Head of School. As a reminder, all search communications and other information relevant to the Head of School search are posted on the Head of School search web page, so please refer to it periodically to stay apprised of developments and important dates.
Patty Perez (Stronski) P’20, P’23, P’25, P’27
Head of School Search Committee Chair