Dear RCDS Community Members,
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am delighted to announce that Randall Dunn has accepted our invitation to serve as the next Head of Rye Country Day School. Mr. Dunn was recommended by the Head of School Search Committee to the Board, who unanimously approved his appointment. Mr. Dunn will begin his tenure on July 1, 2022, following Scott Nelson’s planned retirement.
Mr. Dunn has enjoyed an outstanding career as a classroom teacher, coach, dormitory advisor, and senior administrator. He currently serves as Head of School at Latin School of Chicago, a nationally regarded independent day school, and he has held this position since 2011. Mr. Dunn’s exemplary record of leadership, his deep commitment to students and academic excellence, and his extensive experience in top independent and public schools make him the ideal candidate to lead RCDS.
The characteristics that stand out most about Mr. Dunn, from his career experiences and colleague references, are his visionary leadership, his warm personality, his calm demeanor, his dedication to building and fostering a strong sense of community, and his belief in a rigorous and innovative program that emphasizes service, character, intellectual growth, inclusion, and the pursuit of educational excellence. Since the beginning of the search process, he has shown a deep and genuine appreciation of RCDS’s notable track record of academic distinction, its unwavering support of students, and its longstanding commitment to service. During his time on campus, Mr. Dunn demonstrated a firm grasp of the RCDS mission along with a desire and ability to further it in a spirit of collaboration and with a balanced approach that is grounded in the best practices in independent education. Mr. Dunn has impressed all of us on the Search Committee as a dynamic and experienced educator who will respect and build upon the solid foundation and traditions of our school while leading us into the future.
The Search Process
Mr. Dunn’s selection follows a nine-month process that included engagement from the entire RCDS community. The Search Committee was chaired by Patty Perez and included twelve trustees from across the RCDS community, two of whom are alumni. The Search Committee worked with search consultants Deirdre Ling and John Mackenzie of Educators’ Collaborative and reviewed the credentials of candidates from all over the country. After soliciting input from the RCDS community to identify key characteristics of the next Head of School, the Search Committee selected ten individuals for a confidential round of in-person semi-finalist interviews. Subsequently, four finalists visited the campus for comprehensive two-day interviews, meeting with the Advisory Committee, as well as administrators, employees, students, Parents Association leadership, trustees, parents and guardians, and alumni. In addition to carefully reviewing and considering community feedback, the Search Committee conducted extensive due diligence on each of the finalists before making its recommendation.
On behalf of the entire Board, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Search Committee Chair Patty Perez for her tireless efforts on behalf of Rye Country Day School to ensure a thorough, inclusive, and transparent search. I would also like to thank my fellow Search Committee members: Andy Adams, Tom Davidson, Sarah Dodds-Brown ’91, Amy Chen Fisch, Alison Hinds-Pearl, Fernando Rivas, Rosa Hyun Perkins, Cindy Ganis Roskind ’90, Elizabeth Shah-Hosseini, and Andrew Wallach, who devoted countless hours and great care to ensure an outstanding result. They, along with the Advisory Committee, and indeed every stakeholder who took the time to participate in the process, deserve our heartfelt gratitude. This search process stands as a testament to the collaborative nature of the Rye Country Day community and our dedication to upholding the highest standards.
About Rye Country Day's Next Head of School
Mr. Dunn has spent the past 34 years in education. After graduating from Milton Academy, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Brown University in 1987. He then began his first teaching job at the Potomac School, before going on to complete a Master of Education degree in human development and psychology from Harvard University in 1992. Earlier in his career, Mr. Dunn was a coach, dorm parent, and advisor at Milton Academy, and he taught in the Brookline, Massachusetts, public school system; at Concord Academy; and at Derby Academy where he was also the Upper School Director. Prior to his current position as the Head of Latin School, an independent Pre-K–12 school with 1,200 students, Mr. Dunn served as Head of School at The Roeper School in suburban Detroit for seven years. He also served as Head of the Middle School at the Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland, for seven years.
Under Mr. Dunn’s distinguished leadership, Latin School of Chicago has improved its college admissions significantly, quadrupled its endowment, and substantially improved its facilities through the acquisition of neighboring properties and major renovations across the school. During his tenure, Latin School has also become a leader in utilizing educational technologies, and it launched Uptown Partnership, a community service program that partners with charitable and educational organizations throughout Chicago.
A well-respected leader in education both nationwide and in his immediate communities, Mr. Dunn was recently named Chair of the Board of Trustees of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), of which RCDS is one of over 1,615 member schools. He has also served as a member of the boards of Milton Academy, the Norwood School in Bethesda, the Association of Independent Maryland Schools, and the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington, as well as co-chair of the National Advisory Board of the Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Mr. Dunn will be joined in Rye by his wife, Elizabeth (Liz) Hopkins Dunn (pictured below). He and Mrs. Dunn have two adult daughters, Hunter and Chasey.
The Path Forward
The selection of the Head of School is a critical milestone in the life of a school and one of the greatest responsibilities of trusteeship. All of us at Rye Country Day School can be proud that Mr. Dunn has accepted the appointment and that our community engaged so actively throughout the search process. Your participation was vital, and it enabled us to select an outstanding leader to succeed Scott Nelson. The Board and I are very pleased with the outcome, and we look forward to welcoming Mr. Dunn and his family to the RCDS community. We are also confident that each of you also will extend a warm RCDS welcome to our new Head of School. A full transition plan will be created to include several opportunities for the community and Mr. Dunn to become better acquainted during the 2021-22 academic year.
As we look ahead to a new chapter in Rye Country Day School’s history with Mr. Dunn, we want to reiterate our heartfelt appreciation of and gratitude for Scott Nelson and the excellence and innovation he has brought to the School. Mr. Nelson has been instrumental in enhancing RCDS’s position of national prominence among independent schools, strengthening our financial position, developing our faculty, and improving our physical facilities, among many other accomplishments. His transformative leadership and his tireless dedication to inspiring and ensuring excellence have shaped the School in an enduring manner. We look forward to celebrating Mr. Nelson’s tremendous legacy throughout this academic year.
With the prospect of exciting new leadership after the completion of Scott Nelson’s distinguished tenure, and the continuing dedication of our employees, the Board of Trustees looks forward to a bright future for Rye Country Day School.
Leigh Dyson Geller P'20, P'22, P'25
Chair, Board of Trustees
Dear Members of the RCDS Community,
I am so pleased and honored to be selected as Rye Country Day School’s next Head of School. I look forward to earning your trust, respect, and friendship as we move forward together into this next vital chapter of the School’s history.
Many thanks to the Board of Trustees and all who participated in this thoughtful search process and shared with me their time, knowledge, and inexorable enthusiasm for RCDS.
My wife, Liz, and I were immediately drawn to the warmth and engagement of this remarkable community. From my initial laughter-filled conversations with members of the Search Committee to our two-day campus visit during which we were able to get to know the RCDS philosophy and programs and spend time with some truly exceptional people, Liz and I were all in. We saw all that the local area has to offer, met some very cool students, and learned about all of the incredible work that Mr. Nelson and his team of administrators, faculty, and staff have accomplished over the last several decades. When a lovely parent in one of the open sessions lowered her mask for a moment so she could share a genuine and visible smile with me, “all in” became an understatement.
Needless to say, I was also attracted to the strength of the programs at RCDS, which have earned the School national recognition for academic excellence. In my life, the pursuit of personal and academic excellence has had a constant presence and a profound influence on me, my students, and my colleagues. My varied personal and professional experiences, which I look forward to sharing with all of you, have given me the confidence, knowledge, and perspective to know that I can have a positive impact on RCDS in the years to come. RCDS will undoubtedly have a tremendous positive impact on me, as well.
I am excited for all of the conversations we have ahead of us as we build on RCDS’s legacy of success and work together to make the School the very best it can be. During my recent visit, I met with department chairs, division directors, initiative leaders, counselors, trustees, alumni, parents and guardians, faculty, staff, and students. What wonderful and impressive creativity and innovation are happening in RCDS’s learning spaces! The students are appreciative of the academic and extra-curricular choices they have, and, from Pre-K through Grade 12, they know that their voices are heard and respected. Skilled teachers are modeling leading practices in cross-disciplinary and inquiry-based pedagogy, and engaging students with intentional programming that reflects real world problems and solutions. Throughout the School, state-of-the-art facilities and resources provide an excellent setting for teaching and learning. Indeed, great things are happening at RCDS, and there are more great things to come.
The School’s motto—Not for Self, but for Service—perfectly expresses why I have made my life’s work in education. I look forward to listening, learning, working hard, and being of service to all RCDS constituents. Liz and I are excited and ready to embrace the RCDS community wholeheartedly and to actively participate in the vibrant daily life of the School. A transition plan is being created, and it will include numerous opportunities for me and Liz to connect with and get to know the RCDS community—and for you to get to know us. We can’t wait to get started!