May 13, 2014
Dear Mount Vernon Family,
A thorough and thoughtful national search for a new Head of Upper School has been conducted within six weeks of being notified by Tyler Thigpen of his departure to attend Harvard University. I want to take this opportunity to review with you the search process, offer an update on the status, and announce the direction of leadership in both the short-term and the long-term.
In an effort to provide feedback to the Head of Upper School Search Committee, parents, students and faculty members responded to a series of survey questions related to the Mount Vernon mission, vision and leadership. Through the Schoolâ€™s strong professional network and the engagement of a national search firm, we reviewed 40 resumes from candidates compelled by the MVPS story. Extensive pre-interview sessions were coordinated with 20 candidates throughout the world. A set of four candidates were invited to the School to engage approximately 100 representatives of the Mount Vernon community (students, parents, teachers, administrators, and Trustees). Their insight into each candidate was invaluable to the process.
After evaluating the depth of candidates, community feedback, and process, I concluded through prayerful consideration and consultation that the School needs to extend the search into the summer and the fall. This is a decision not to be rushed or compromised as it has a profound impact on meeting the spiritual, academic, social, and physical needs of our students. Time will allow the School to broaden its search of high performing candidates during a more optimal time of the school year and to engage with stakeholders in a deeper way about the direction of the Upper School.
In the interim, I have asked Bo Adams, Chief Learning and Innovation Officer to increase his time (60-70%) dedicated to oversee, supervise, and more directly lead the Upper School during the 2014-2015 school year. As a reminder, Bo joined Mount Vernon in June 2013 after serving the Westminster Schools and Unboundary, a design consultancy firm. In a short period, he is regarded as a trusted colleague with the faculty and has served as a strong mentor for students across all divisions. Moving to the Glenn Campus, Bo will devote his talent and expertise to the Upper School, supporting the needs of students, teachers, and parents as well as advancing the mission and vision of inquiry, innovation, and impact.
Joining Bo to lead and amplify the progress of the Upper School community are Krista Parker and Emily Breite. Their roles during the interim period have been elevated and expanded. Kristaâ€™s primary responsibilities as Upper School Head of Student Life and Operations will focus on maintaining strong relationships with parents, students, and teachers while coordinating the day-to-day operations of the Upper School. In addition, she will oversee a student-advisory program launching in August, manage student discipline, and supervise student organizations. In her expanded role, she will continue to teach AP Biology. Completing her 8th year at Mount Vernon, she has cultivated strong ties within our community, earning enormous respect from everyone.
Emily Breite, Upper School Head of Learning and Innovation, will focus on the academic, curricular, and instructional leadership with the Upper School faculty. She will continue to serve as academic dean guiding students to develop their four year academic plans, assisting the Academic Resource team, and collaborating with the College Counseling department--incoming Director of College Counseling, Erin McCubbin along with Pam Ambler, Associate Director of College Counseling (a new hire from Woodward Academy). Emily joined Mount Vernon two years ago from the Lovett School and quickly moved into a leadership role in the Upper School.
Tyler will remain Head of Upper School through the end of June. During this transition, Tyler, Bo, Krista, and Emily will work as a team in preparation for the 2014-2015 school year--working together on new faculty hires, student schedules, enhanced programming, and events. I am extremely grateful the School has a deep bench of leadership. The Upper School community is in great hands with this team. As the Head of Upper School search expands throughout the summer and the fall, I will keep you apprised of any updates.
Blessings to you and your family as the 2013-2014 school year comes to a close.
Dr. Brett Jacobsen
Head of School