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Middle School Head Search

This page was created on Feb. 7 to keep the larger community informed about our Middle School Head Search process as we move forward with our recommendation of a new MS Head. We anticipate an update once a week to ensure the community is aware of our progress. (Updates below will be posted in reverse chronological order.) The members of our committee are as follows.

  • Clerk: Patti Lemere (MS Learning Specialist)
  • Alice Chmil (MS Science, LS Parent)
  • Aimee Farley (MS Humanities, Diversity Coordinator)
  • Francis Zell (MS Dean of Students, Physical Education, Alumni)
  • Josh Moffatt (US History, Alumni)
  • David Hickson (Asst. Head of School, Former Division Head)
  • Tony McCudden (Director of Enrollment, Former MS and US Math Teacher)
  • Carolyn Miller (HR Director)
  • Sandra Grier (MS and LS Parent)
  • Nicole Carey (LS Parent)

Our ultimate charge is to recommend to Tom who should be hired for the position of MS Head. As such, Tom closely follows progress with the committee.

April 20, 2017 - Final Update!
An email was sent to all SSFS families on April 20 with the following announcement:

With current Middle School Head Jonathan Oglesbee accepting his new position as SSFS Upper School Head starting this summer, a Middle School Search Committee was formed in early February 2017 to spearhead the search for a new Middle School Head at SSFS. After meeting with many strong candidates throughout the winter, the committee is delighted to announce the recommendation of David K. Blake to be the next Middle School Head. David has accepted the position, which will begin in July 2017. The committee wishes to thank all those who participated in and provided valuable feedback throughout the search process.

David Blake is an accomplished education leader with over 15 years of experience in the education of students in grades 5–12. David's most recent role has been as the Middle School Assistant Director at Greensboro Day School in Greensboro, NC. While at Greensboro Day, David has served on many different committees, including School Operations Team, Middle School Student Support Team, and the GDS Enrollment Committee. In addition, David brings experience with international students as a host family and as a Homestay Coordinator for New Oasis International Education. On a more personal note, David has a wife and two sons, and we look forward to welcoming David's wife René and their two children Seamus (rising 7th grader) and Finnegan (rising 5th grader) to the SSFS community.

The MS Search Committee will be in touch soon with follow-up information about an upcoming Meet and Greet with David that we hope to schedule later this spring or early summer, and opportunities for families to set up one-on-one meetings with David after he officially begins the first week of July.

April 4, 2017 Update

The MS Head Search committee continues our work to make a recommendation to Tom on the next Head of Middle School. We’ve had to adjust our timeline, but we are now hoping to wrap up our process by the end of this week. We have two candidates coming in the next few days. Below are parent meeting dates and times:

  • Wednesday, April 5, 3:45-4:30
  • Thursday, April 6, 3:45-4:30

Please feel free to contact anyone on the committee with questions.

March 15: Update on Thursday visit: Cancelled

Our candidate visit for Thursday, March 16, has been cancelled. We are in the process of rescheduling our remaining candidates and anticipate sending out a more detailed update by the end of this week.

March 13: Important update from the MS Head Search Committee

Due to the impending winter storm, all of the candidates for this week are being rescheduled for early April, with the exception of Thursday’s candidate. If school is open on time Thursday, we will be hosting parent time with the candidate at 8:15 a.m. in the MS Conference Room. If school is delayed or closed, this candidate will also be rescheduled for April.

March 9, 2017 Update

The committee is working hard and is well into the interview process. With two interviews conducted already and more in the coming week, we are working hard to make sure travel arrangements, meeting times, and meals are executed successfully so that we can make a recommendation to Tom for the next Head of MS. Here is the list of upcoming candidate dates and parent meeting times:

  • Mon, March 13th, 3:45-4:30 pm
  • Tues, March 14th, 3:45-4:30 pm
  • Wed, March 15th, 3:30-4:15 pm
  • Thurs., March 16th, 8:15-9:00 am

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any member of the committee.


March 1, 2017 Update

We have scheduled most of our Middle School Head candidate visits; below are the dates and times that they are scheduled to meet with parents. We would particularly love for parents of students in grades 5-8 to attend these meet-and greets. Please note that we tried to keep the timing as consistent as possible for parents, but some individual schedule conflicts necessitated our times to be adjusted slightly for different candidates. The dates and times are as follows:

  • Mon, March 6th, 3:45-4:10 pm
  • Tues, March 7th, 3:45-4:30 pm
  • Mon, March 13th, 3:45-4:30 pm
  • Tues, March 14th, 3:45-4:30 pm
  • Wed, March 15th, 3:30-4:15 pm

Because some candidates are in different stages of letting their administration know where they are in our process, we will be releasing names and resumes 1-2 days in advance of each visit.

We would very much like a core group of parents to attend each candidate visit during the designated parent time. If your child is currently in the Middle School, please contact Sandra Grier at sgrier@mosaicsgroup.com as she is coordinating MS parents. If your child is currently in 5th grade, please contact Nicole Carey at dgandnc@gmail.com as she is coordinating LS parents. They will provide more details about each individual visit.

Feb. 24, 2017 Update

After a very intense week of phone interviews, the committee met Thursday to narrow down our candidate pool into individuals that we would like to bring on campus for a one-day, in-person interview . During this time, candidates will meet many constituents of the school, including faculty members, senior administrators, students, and parents. Due to the incredible number of qualified resumes we received, this was (not surprisingly) a rather lively conversation. In the end, we did not narrow the list down to as many as we originally had hoped; we decided instead that it would be better to bring more candidates onto campus. We simply had so many qualified and talented candidates that we didn’t want to discount anyone simply because of our desire to simplify or expedite the process. Over the next two weeks, we will be conducting these in-person interviews. We have already begun coordinating visits and will continue to do so throughout the weekend.

We will announce the schedule of our candidate visits as soon as they become available. Parents can expect to meet our candidates at the end of, or immediately after, the school day. We are looking for a core group of parents with flexibility in their schedules that could attend many of these visits. Ideally, we would have a group of parents attend each visit, and imagine our 5th-8th grade parents would be the most invested in this process. Those parents should look for a letter with more detailed information if they desire to be a part of this process.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact any member of the committee.

Feb. 17, 2017 Update

The committee met Thursday afternoon to review feedback received from faculty, parents, and students about the next head of MS, and to narrow down our 43-candidate pool to determine which candidates we wanted to pursue for phone interviews.

After reviewing all the feedback from e-mails, surveys, and conversations, we were able to draw upon common themes. These themes will serve as a criteria to judge our candidates by as we speak to them during phone interviews and in person. The general themes we were able to draw were:

  • Energy to participate with, and a knowledge and passion about, MS students and their development
  • Adds to our school’s work with diversity in some way
  • Will focus on social emotional learning, athletics, and arts, as well as academics
  • Takes into account student feedback
  • Puts an emphasis on the community and Quaker Values
  • Has relevant classroom teaching experience
  • Someone who will contribute to a kind community
  • A strategic thinker who understands the MS is a part of the larger SSFS community

The committee has identified about 15 candidates who we are pursuing in the form of phone interviews this week. We have divided up into teams of three, where we will ask each “phone finalist” a series of set questions. We meet again at the end of next week with the goal of narrowing these phone finalist down to finalists we want to visit in person. As of now, we are still on schedule to make a recommendation to Tom before Spring Break.

We were universally blown away by the pool of candidates who applied for the job. It is clear our committee will have to make a lot of tough decisions going forward. While it is not easy work, we are reminded that the number and caliber of our candidates which me must choose from is a “good” problem to have.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact anyone on the committee.

Feb. 10, 2017 Update

Although our committee was only formed a few days ago, we have hit the ground running looking for a next Head of Middle School at SSFS. We held our first committee meeting, where we outlined our timeline and talked about ways to gather feedback from the community regarding the direction of the Middle School program and desirable qualities in the next Head of Middle School. On Feb. 9, we held one of two sessions with Middle School faculty where we asked a four-part query (see bullet points, below). The query was designed to focus on the positive parts of our program that we want to continue, on what we can do to strengthen existing parts of our program, and on the qualities that we want to look for in our candidates.

  • With respect to the Middle School program (academics, student supports, extra- and co-curricular programs), what are priority areas for strengthening the Middle School over the next few years?
  • With respect to culture and community, what are priorities for strengthening the Middle School over the next few years?
  • What essential elements or characteristics of the Middle School must be preserved going forward? What forms our enduring core?
  • When thinking about a Head of Middle School, what traits would help further the life and mission of the Middle School for the next few years?

Along with this information, we are also sending out a survey to our students on Monday, Feb. 13, which will essentially ask the same questions (though tailored to a middle-school student focus). While feedback from students and faculty members is vitally important, we also want to gain information from our parents and other community members. We have a created a survey here which asks similar queries and will record responses for the purpose of creating a set of common criteria for our candidates. We will share our general findings and any themes before we start bringing in candidates. Feedback given will remain anonymous.

On that note, parent feedback will become an important part of our process when it comes to individual candidate visits. Tentatively, we have identified Thursday, Feb 23 to Thursday, March 2 as days that we will try to schedule finalist visits to campus. There will be an afternoon time period (most likely right after school) for parents to be able to meet with each candidate. We would love a core group of parents to attend these meet-and-greets, and imagine 5th-8th grade parents would have the largest role in this process. We will provide more detailed information later, but we wanted to provide likely times and dates for opportunities to give feedback now, so that parents who want to contribute to this process can put it on their calendar. If we do foresee any changes, we will notify the community immediately. Please understand that this is somewhat of a fluid process, although we are making every effort to move as quickly as possible and adhere to our timeline.

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