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Experiences with Transition of Headmasters


Replies to: Experiences with Transition of Headmasters

  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 5,342 Senior Member
    Part of this thread is about St. Paul's upcoming / current search for a new Rector. The current Rector, Mike Hirschfeld was Director of Admissions & Bill Matthews was Director of development during the Anderson years. The current Rector is leaving at the end of his term/contract. Both of his kids have finished SPS and are now in college or graduated.

    It is fascinating to have first-hand knowledge & to have watched the circus that ensued.

    Do you really think that the Bishop was removed for "excessive grooming" or that the Board didn't approve of & know of the country club expenditures by the Bishop & Vice Rector ?

    If you know Board members & were somehow involved with SPS during this time, then you certainly should be aware of the student outcry in support of Bishop Anderson.

    Regardless, if you want to check historical fact, then just look at the number of "Vice-Rectors" during the beginning & end of the Bishop's tenure.
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 5,342 Senior Member
    Hint: At the end of Bishop Anderson's tenure there was just one Vice-Rector Dr. Sharon Hennessy.

    At the beginning, I believe that there were four.

    If you know Board members then check with them as they should have very long-standing relationships with SPS.

  • sunnyschoolsunnyschool Registered User Posts: 1,126 Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    What does "excessive grooming" mean? Too many haircuts and manicures, or grooming of minors (students), or teachers, or what?
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 19,485 Senior Member
    @sunnyschool I used the word "groomed" to reflect that people under the head of the school are in positions where they are getting the experience to be potential replacements in running the school. I'm not sure what the other poster had in mind exactly with repeated use of the phrase "excessive grooming".
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 39,404 Super Moderator
    edited February 2018
    Hmmm... Is this worth a new thread?
    Yes it is. :)

    Discussion split off.

    Additionally, I am going to assume that the back-and-forth above me has come to an end. As I have said before, which is also listed in ToS, College Confidential is not a debate society.
    Post edited by skieurope on
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,730 Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    At the schools I am familiar with, there is little that changes immediately when a HOS changes. Schools are communities and the people in them stay constant, so the day to day keeps running. And changing a school often means changing how people do things, and that takes time. But over a tenure, a HOS can definitely change a school's direction because they have responsibility for the strategic planning, aligning donors with support for that vision, etc. And they can definitely influence the culture. This is in the context of a retirement, not a crisis, when the transition is anticipated and planned.

    I would guess that if the change was made in response to a serious problem, the expectation would be that change would be swifter and there would be support for that.
  • vwlizardvwlizard Registered User Posts: 254 Junior Member
    I'd actually love to hear more about the original topic. (No offense, but maybe you two can move this to PM). We're looking at a few schools in transition and it concerns me. I tend to think first year not much happens as new HM feels things out, 2nd year band-aid gets ripped off, changes are made, some people are unhappy, 3rd year, those that are unhappy leave and the rest roll up their sleeves and get to work. None of this bothers me unless the new head ends up leaving in year 3 or 4 and then the whole cycle repeats. Seems some schools just haven't found their match yet and keep repeating the cycle.
    As a school committee member, I've gone through a talent search many times and wonder how it differs in the boarding schools world. Right now in the public sector, it's slim pickings.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,730 Senior Member
    @vwlizard , my comment was to the original question and is based on BS. I think your assessment of the cycle can be correct. One question I would ask is about the process used to determine the new HOS. Ime, where things aren't broken and the key constituents have meaningful input, the need to do it again in 3 years isn't an issue. But if the trustees think a new head can change a truly flawed culture or single-handedly avert a train wreck, that's less likely to leave everyone satisfied.
  • twinsmamatwinsmama Registered User Posts: 1,538 Senior Member
    Mercersburg is in its second year with a new head. I think she is terrific. I understand that there is a group of parents who object to the way she has modified the rowdiest senior class traditions, but I am decidedly not among them.
  • vwlizardvwlizard Registered User Posts: 254 Junior Member
    @gardenstategal - There seem to be a few schools that have gone through three heads in 5 years. That includes an interim, which is understandable, but I can't imagine that does much to move the school in a positive direction. I am really attracted to a few school specifically because they have a strong HOS. My fear is 6 months after my kid enrolls, they'll leave.
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 19,485 Senior Member
    I think it is important to look beyond any one person. How about the rest of the administrative team, the teachers? Is there a lot of turnover everywhere? Those are some things to think about. Ask about the 5 year plan for the school and what changes are planned.
  • CaliMexCaliMex Registered User Posts: 1,216 Senior Member
    What’s the skinny with Emma Willard’s new head? She sounds amazing and visiting parents have praised her... But what do the faculty and students think, I wonder...

    Also: What do current SPS families think of the upcoming transition? Is this a positive or negative sign in terms of potential cultural change?

    Finally: Is Tad Roach at SAS thinking of retiring soon now that his kids are older? @seekers?

  • seekersseekers Registered User Posts: 129 Junior Member
    I agree with doschicos, that it's important to look at the broader culture (and the stability or instability found there; as well as the presence or lack of clear shared values and executing on mission)...

    as for Tad at SAS, I have no information. He's done the job with incredible passion for 20 years, and doesn't show any hint of slowing down. Yes, his last kid is graduating from SAS this year, but that means 4 more years of college tuition. Seven years ago, the subject of his plans to continue came up at visit back, and he emphasized how much faith he had in the institution to carry on in the absence of any individual, but did reassure the crowd he had no immediate plans... I hope you get the chance to ask again at visit back this year!
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 19,485 Senior Member
    @GoatMama I agree with the sentiments in your last paragraph as that is what made/makes SPS unique and it was an attraction and a deciding factor in choosing the school. I hope you will express those thoughts to the administration so they know that they are valued by many members of the SPS community. They need to hear the opinions of people besides their lawyers. :)
This discussion has been closed.