What is the role of the board in the search for the permanent head of school? What is the role of the search committee? What roles will parents, teachers, and staff have in the process?
The primary role of the Beauvoir Governing Board is to ensure the long-term success and sustainability of the school; the board’s most important responsibility is hiring the head of school, who 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 headship and making a final recommendation to the Governing Board. The Governing Board 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 parents, teachers, staff, and other members of the Beauvoir and Close community are critical to the process. As discussed below, there have already been and will be more opportunities for various stakeholders to provide input about the school and the qualities sought in the next head of school.
How was the search committee selected?
According to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Head of School Search Handbook, the search committee should reflect the school’s different stakeholder groups, be able to think about what is best for the school as a whole (both in the short and long term), and have a collective understanding of the school’s needs. Also necessary is the willingness and ability to devote the substantial time needed to complete the committee’s work. While it is important that the search committee broadly represents the various viewpoints of the school’s stakeholders, it is also important that the committee be small enough to be nimble.
The outgoing Governing Board chair and the incoming Governing Board chair worked together with members of the incoming and outgoing executive committee of the board to select the search committee members. The executive committee approved the final slate. The Governing Board executive committee is composed of the officers of the Governing Board and the chairs of the standing committees of the board, which include the finance committee, the governance committee, the personnel and compensation committee, the advancement committee, and the building and grounds committee, as well as any other members appointed by the chair. Please see the Governing Board page on the Beauvoir website
for list of the current executive members. For purposes of assembling a list of potential non-board member parent representatives, the outgoing chair and the incoming chair reached out to the entire board (both outgoing and incoming members), the Parents Association executive committee (both outgoing and incoming members), the Grandparents Council, and alumni parents for recommendations. In addition, the outgoing chair and the incoming chair have received recommendations from many individual members of the parent community. In total, they estimate that they have reached out to or received input from approximately 125 members of the community. Furthermore, faculty and staff were invited to express their interest in serving in any capacity during the permanent head search.
Taking into account the advice and recommendations from the various stakeholders, the search committee consists of: parents who do not serve on the Governing Board, faculty members, and members of the Governing Board. Committee members were selected based on the distinct set of skills, diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and integrity they each bring to the search process. These individuals know Beauvoir well and appreciate our early childhood focus, our Life Rules, our connection to the Cathedral Close, and our tradition and culture, including our commitment to a diverse and inclusive learning environment. We are confident that they represent the community’s broad and strategic needs and will ensure a successful head of school search process.
What is the timeline for the search for the new permanent head of school?
The search began in mid-June with on-campus search consultant meetings with Beauvoir constituents, including faculty, staff, parents, grandparents, alumni, board members, and Close leaders. In addition, an online survey was launched to the school community. The information gleaned from these meetings and the survey will be used to draft the search profile, which describes the school and the ideal candidate for the position. The search profile will be refined in consultation with the search committee and the board later this summer. The search firm will spend the summer identifying and evaluating prospective candidates and will report back to the search committee sometime around late September. We also anticipate that our search firm will visit campus again around that time to solicit additional input from various stakeholder groups. Input gathered will be used to further refine the search firm and the search committee’s understanding of the school’s needs. In the fall, the search committee will begin the process of interviewing semifinalist candidates, with the hope that those interviews will yield highly-qualified candidate finalists who will be invited to visit Beauvoir as early as late fall or early winter. The number one goal, however, is to find the best head of school to lead Beauvoir forward, and we will pursue that goal even if it takes a bit longer to find the right person.
When will the new head of school start?
Based on the current timeline, it is our hope that the new permanent head of school will take office in July 2018. The search committee and search firm will make every effort to complete the search on the anticipated timeline, but the most important goal is to find the right match in our next head of school. There is always a chance that the search could extend into the following school year, in which case the new head of school would take office 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 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 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 is not at liberty to disclose the names of people under consideration or when they will be in Washington 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 requested by the candidate.
Who is the search firm?
Brigham Hill Consultancy is a retained executive search firm that serves only not-for-profit organizations, but 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. In particular, the firm has worked a great deal in our region, including placing the current heads of school at National Presbyterian School, Holton-Arms School, Green Acres School, and McLean School of Maryland. Our consultants have also conducted senior administrative searches at National Cathedral School, Sidwell Friends School, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School, Lab School of Washington, Landon School, and Holton-Arms School.
How can I express my opinions about the search?
In addition to the face-to-face meetings with the search firm, we have created a Head of School Search page on the Beauvoir website, where you will find a link to a brief questionnaire. The questionnaire asks you to identify yourself broadly in terms of your relationship with the school and then gives you an opportunity to answer a handful of open-ended questions. Once you click to submit the information, the responses go directly to our search firm, Brigham Hill Consultancy. The firm will review them and provide the search committee with suggestions, opinions, and insights gleaned from the questionnaires.
If you have questions or concerns about the search, please reach out to the search committee members co-chairs or members of the committee directly. They welcome your input. You can also send an email to the search committee directly at BVRheadsearch@cathedral.org
to provide input or request an opportunity to meet with or speak with a member of the search committee.
Will the successful candidate now be a head 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 Beauvoir, and whose leadership manner and style are compelling, would also be of great interest. The search is structured to invite a variety of prospective candidates, both sitting heads and others, and the search committee will look at each case on its own merits to determine whether or not to continue discussions with a given individual.
Is this a national search?
Yes. As noted above, there is intense competition across the country for accomplished educational leaders. Thus, we will invite candidates from all geographic areas.