HEAD OF SCHOOL SEARCH

This webpage has been created as a resource for the Congressional School community during our Head of School search process. Our change of leadership marks an important opportunity in the life of Congressional School, one that the Board of Trustees is undertaking.

We hope this page will be a helpful tool for gleaning information about our search committee, communications, and answers to frequently asked questions.

If you have additional questions about the search for a new Head of School, please contact search Co-Chairs: Todd West and Sandra P. Buteau at: congressionalboard@gmail.com.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who will lead Congressional School on an interim basis during the search for a permanent Head of School?

The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Andrea Weiss, Congressional School’s Director of Innovation and Learning, to serve as the Interim Head of School. The combination of Ms. Weiss’ experience in industry and education strongly positions her to successfully lead both the business and academic sides of the school during the interim period.

How will the Congressional School community be kept informed about the search?

Updates regarding the search will be shared via email with the immediate school community and through updates to this webpage. 

How is the search process being managed?

The Board of Trustees is responsible for appointing the next Head of School. To aid in that process, the Board has established a Search Committee with broad representation from the Congressional School community that is chaired by two members of the Board of Trustees: Todd West and Sandra P. Buteau. Please see the right column for a list of the Search Committee members.

Recognizing that selecting our next Head of School is a critical milestone for the school, the Board has retained the highly respected educational consulting firm of Wickenden Associates to assist in the search. With more than 30 years of experience serving independent schools, Wickenden Associates has conducted nearly 400 Head of School searches for a wide variety of schools across the nation.

Our consultants, Jim Wickenden and Amy Shen, are highly qualified to help find the best candidate to become Congressional School’s next Head of School.

What is the role of the Search Committee?

The Board of Trustees appointed the Search Committee to work with Wickenden Associates to identify and select appropriate and qualified applicants for interviews by the Search Committee.  The Committee will also select finalists to meet with a wider group of administration, faculty, staff, parents, and students, and ultimately will advise the Board of Trustees on selection.

The role of the Search Committee is to define and guide the search process, keep the search on task and on schedule, and move the process to closure. During the entire process, the Search Committee will keep the Congressional School’s community informed and engaged while respecting the confidentiality of the recruitment process.

The Search Committee will make recommendations to the Board of Trustees, but the final decision rests of who will serve as the Head of School with the entire Board.

What is the role of the Search Firm?

Wickenden Associates provides advice to the Search Committee concerning format, logistics, procedure, and best practices in the search process.

 

To kick off the search process, Wickenden Associates Search Consultant Amy Shen and President Jim Wickenden visited the school on October 18 and 19, 2018 for an intensive series of conversations with representatives across all the school's constituencies. The information they learned will help them develop a thorough understanding of our leadership requirements and will also be used in the development of an Opportunity Statement that provides information about the school; an assessment of the school’s strengths and challenges; and a list of the qualities, skills, and kinds of experience the new Head should bring to the position.

Wickenden Associates will ensure that the Opportunity Statement includes the personal characteristics and style required for the new Head to “fit” effectively with the Congressional School culture and values.

Wickenden Associates’ consultants interview and check references of all candidates before referring their credentials to the Search Committee for review. Wickenden Associates also facilitate the flow of feedback between the candidates and the Search Committee.

How did the Board of Trustees choose the search firm?

After learning of the Head of School’s departure, the Board of Trustees solicited proposals from seven leading search firms. After reviewing all of them, the Board selected Wickenden Associates to serve as consultants in this search.

Wickenden Associates is a highly respected educational consulting firm with more than 30 years of experience serving independent schools and has conducted nearly 400 Head of School searches for a wide variety of schools across the nation.

What is the Board’s role?

The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) states that selecting a Head of School is “the single most important act of a board.” This responsibility is also included in their Principles of Good Practice for the Board of Trustees for members schools, which can be reviewed using this link.

Working closely with the Search Co-Chairs, the Board ensures a high level of consensus between the school’s mission, core values, challenges and opportunities for Congressional School, and the desired candidate’s profile.

The Search Committee will make recommendations to the Board of Trustees that will meet with the final candidates. Only after a satisfying search the Board will approve the appointment and hire Congressional School’s new Head of School.

What is Congressional School’s faculty, staff and administration’s role during the search?

Community involvement in the search process is welcomed and very important. An online survey (due October 26, 2018) has been distributed to faculty, staff, current parents, alumni and their parents, as well as to the 7th and 8th graders. The survey invited respondents to share their thoughts about Congressional School’s culture and provide feedback on the qualities they feel the new Head of School should possess.

Representatives of Wickenden Associates have visited Congressional School and met with representatives across all the school’s constituencies to develop a thorough understanding of our school and leadership needs.

Four current faculty members are serving on the Search Committee:

Michelle Fry - Teacher, First Grade

Tavis Laws - Director of Athletics & Physical Education

Maithili Mankar - Academic Team Lead and Middle School Science Teacher

Maura Rice - Teacher, Junior Kindergarten

Congressional School’s faculty and administrators also participated in one-on-one or small group meetings with Jim Wickenden and Amy Shen during their campus visit on October 18 and 19, 2018. They also attended an Open Forum for Teachers.

Faculty and members of the administration are also encouraged to fill out the online survey prepared by Wickenden Associates by October 26, 2018.

The faculty is also encouraged to participate either individually, or as part of a group, in finalist interviews of candidates visiting the school and share their opinions afterward by completing another electronic survey provide by Wickenden Associates.

What is the role of current parents?

During the launch of the search process, parents received a letter from the Co-Chairs of the Search Committee on October 15, 2018, inviting them to meet with Jim Wickenden and Amy Shen from Wickenden Associates during their school visit on October 18.

In addition, parents are encouraged to complete the online survey (by October 26, 2018) which will inform the Opportunity Statement. Throughout the search process, parents are encouraged to share their thoughts with the Search Co-chairs via e-mail: Todd West and Sandra P. Buteau at congressionalboard@gmail.com.

Parents also can meet with candidates during their site visits as part of the interview process.

Who do I contact if I have any questions, concerns, or thoughts around the search?

You can contact the Search Committee Co-chairs via e-mail: Todd West and Sandra P. Buteau at: congressionalboard@gmail.com.

What is the timeline for the search?

A timeline for the search process is currently being determined. This timeline will be shared in a direct communication to our community and will be posted to this webpage.

What skills and qualities are you looking for in a permanent Head of School?

Wickenden Associates will use the information gathered from interviews with the school community and the survey feedback due on October 26, 2018 to create a detailed and customized Opportunity Statement. This Opportunity Statement will include the desired qualities of a Head of School and will be shared with our school community.

Are there any internal candidates?

The Search Committee will consider all candidates who meet the qualifications identified during the launching of the search process and listed in the Opportunity Statement. Any internal candidate would be required to follow the same application and interview process as external candidates.

What impact would the search for a new Head of School have in the quality of education of the children enrolled at Congressional School?

The Board of Trustees and the Search Committee are committed to ensuring that each child has a rewarding academic and student experience while they are enrolled at Congressional School.

The search for a new Head of School will not impact the delivery of top-rated education by teachers who are passionate about igniting the spark in young learners to become great thinkers and leaders who will positively impact our world.

In keeping with Congressional School’s mission of providing children an opportunity to collaborate, 7th and 8th grade students were invited to complete the online survey that will inform Wickenden Associates about the qualities they view as most important in a new Head of School. Middle School students are going to also actively participate in the interview process for the finalist visiting the school.

Our Board of Trustees has retained the highly respected educational consulting firm of Wickenden Associates to assist us in our Head of School search.

Wickenden Associates, with more than 30 years of experience serving independent schools, has conducted nearly 400 Head of School searches for a wide variety of schools across the nation.

SEARCH COMMITTEE

The Search Committee consists of 13 members that represent various cultures of the school community: Board of Trustees, non-Trustees and faculty representing the lower and upper school:

Mena Burke - Parent & Board Member of the Parents Council of Washington

Sandra P. Buteau - Trustee, Parent & Co-Chair of the Search Committee

Tom Coolidge - Trustee & Parent

Michelle Fry - Teacher, First Grade

Michael Gilbert - Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees & Parent

Kristen Griest - Trustee & Parent

Nicole Guagenti - Past CSPO Middle School Division Coordinator & Parent

Bud Harrell - Trustee & Alumni Parent

Tavis Laws - Director of Athletics & Physical Education

Maithili Mankar - Academic Team Lead, Middle School Science Teacher & Alumni Parent

Maura Rice - Teacher, Junior Kindergarten

Dan Timm - Chair of the Board of Trustees & Parent

Todd West - Trustee, Parent and Co-Chair of the Search Committee

COMMUNICATIONS

10/24/18: Search Committee Update

Dear Members of the Congressional School Family:
 
We are writing to you today with a second update regarding the Head of School search. We will provide updates throughout the search, but you can always ask questions or provide comments to us or any member of the Search Committee. That said, please respect that certain aspects of our work will be highly confidential.
 
Our search consultants, Jim Wickenden and Amy Shen, of Wickenden Associates spent two days with the Congressional School community last week on October 18 and 19, meeting with teachers, member of CSPO leadership, administrators and the Search Committee. Jim and Amy's goal was to learn from us what characteristics we need and desire in our new Head of School.
 
This process continues as Jim and Amy review the results of the online survey discussed in our letter to the community on October 15, 2018. If you have not already done so, please complete and return the confidential survey prepared by Wickenden Associates by this Friday, October 26th. The voice of our whole community, including alumni and alumni parents, is important and we value your input.
 
The Search Committee is working with Wickenden Associates on our Head of School Opportunity Statement. This document will reflect what Jim and Amy learned while meeting with the school community, as well as the information from the confidential survey.
 
Once the Opportunity Statement is posted, we will formally begin accepting applications for the position. The Search Committee will first review applicants on paper, with the active assistance of Jim and Amy, and then will meet with a number of interested semi-finalists before narrowing the field to two to four finalists. The identity of all applicants will be confidential at least through the semi-final stage of our search. Finalists will visit campus and meet with our community. We will give you more details as to the timing of these later stages in a future update.
 
If you have any questions about the search process, do not hesitate to contact us at: congressionalboard@gmail.com.
 
Thank you again for your support.
 
Sincerely,
 
Todd D. West and Sandra P. Buteau
Search Committee Co-Chairs

10/15/18: Head of School Search Update

Dear members of the Congressional School family:
 
We are writing today to provide you with an update regarding our Head of School search and the process we intend to follow. This change of leadership marks an important opportunity in the life of Congressional School, one that the Board of Trustees is undertaking with both eager anticipation and great care.
 
Thirteen members of the school community have been appointed to serve as the Head of School Search Committee. They are:
  • Mena Burke - Board Member-at-Large for Parents Council of Washington & Parent
  • Sandra P. Buteau - Trustee & Parent
  • Tom Coolidge - Trustee & Parent
  • Michelle Fry - Teacher, First Grade
  • Michael Gilbert - Vice Chair, Board of Trustees & Parent
  • Kristen Griest - Trustee & Parent
  • Nicole Guagenti - Past CSPO Middle School Division Coordinator & Parent
  • Bud Harrell - Trustee & Past Parent
  • Tavis Laws - Director of Athletics & Physical Education
  • Maithili Mankar - Academic Team Lead and Middle School Science Teacher
  • Maura Rice - Teacher, Junior Kindergarten
  • Dan Timm - Chair, Board of Trustees & Parent
  • Todd West - Trustee & Parent
We are pleased to announce that the Board has retained the highly respected educational consulting firm of Wickenden Associates to assist us in the search. Wickenden Associates has conducted nearly 400 Head of School searches for a wide variety of schools across the nation.
 
Search Consultant Amy Shen and President Jim Wickenden will be visiting the school on October 18-19 to meet with the Search Committee and to conduct a series of conversations with representatives across all of the school's constituencies. The information they learn will help them develop a thorough understanding of our leadership requirements and will also be used in the development of an opportunity statement that will inform potential candidates about this unique career opportunity.
 
As part of this visit, Amy and Jim will be conducting an open meeting for parents interested in learning more about the search process at 7:00 PM on Thursday, October 18 in the Big School Cafeteria.
 
Please know that your participation in the search process is welcomed and very important. We are eager to hear your thoughts about our school's strengths and challenges as well as the qualities we should be seeking in our next Head of School. We encourage you to complete this brief online survey that will include the same discussion topics as the meetings.
 
The online form may also be used to confidentially suggest potential candidates. We ask that you complete the survey by Friday, October 26.
 
Thank you in advance for your support as we undertake this important and exciting work on behalf of Congressional School. Rest assured that we will keep you informed as the process proceeds.
 
Sincerely,
 
Todd D. West and Sandra P. Buteau
Search Committee Co-Chairs

10/11/18: Introduction from Interim Head of School

Dear Congressional Families,
 
Since joining the Congressional community in 2015, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a wonderful group of talented faculty and staff in both my roles, as Director of Innovation and Learning and Middle School Math Teacher. I am honored to now partner with this dynamic team to move the school forward in my new role as Interim Head of School for 2018-2019.
 
The top priority for Congressional School has always been to do what is best for our students and to make sure that our teachers have the support and resources they need. As Interim Head of School, I am committed to continuing to provide the best possible academic program to our students and to ensure that our faculty is well supported. 
 
I also recognize that a strong parent partnership is important and I look forward to building a meaningful relationship with you throughout the year.  Please join me for Coffee and Conversation to learn more about me and our plans for the year ahead. I will be joined by Board Chair, Dan Timm. There are two opportunities to attend this event:
  • Tuesday, October 16 at 8:15 a.m. (RSVP)
  • Tuesday, October 23 at 6:00 p.m. (RSVP)
Both meetings will take place in the Big School Library and your RSVP is kindly requested to help us plan for seating and refreshments. Please note that, due to the interactive nature of these meetings, dial-in will not be offered.
 
I look forward to continuing our school’s long tradition of providing an outstanding, student-centered educational experience and I know we will accomplish a great deal together this year. I plan to communicate with you regularly throughout the year to keep you apprised of all that is happening.
 
In the meantime, I hope to see many of you at one of the Coffee and Conversation events, or at one of our many upcoming community events. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Andrea Weiss
Interim Head of School
Director of Innovation and Learning

10/10/18: Letter from Former Head of School

Dear Members of the Congressional School Community,
 
Serving as Head of School at Congressional has been a tremendously rewarding experience and I am filled with pride as I reminisce over the many significant accomplishments we have achieved over the years.  I am also keenly aware that these accomplishments would not have been possible without the dedication, passion, and skills of the entire faculty and staff.  My colleagues and friends inspire me in many ways and I am grateful for their unwavering dedication to the school and to each and every student.  Therefore, it is with mixed emotions I share with you that I feel it is the right time for me to transition into the next stage of my professional journey.
 
When I arrived at Congressional in 2012, I was inspired by the opportunity and energized by the challenge of leading a school with a 72-year history to a higher level of excellence and awareness within the highly competitive D.C. metropolitan area.  The term 'hidden gem' was one that was regularly used by members of our community when describing Congressional and my appointments to the boards of the Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS), the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington (AISGW), and Emerging Scholars, and as Vice Chair for the latter two, speaks volumes to the reputation and increased level of awareness Congressional School has earned within our area.
 
Early in my tenure, a school-wide Vision Statement and Core Values were created, the Mission Statement was updated, and the school's former name was readopted. In addition to these important changes, I am also proud of our increased focus on diversity and inclusion. This objective was achieved through the creation of the school's first faculty, staff, parent and Board member committee to ensure the recognition, understanding, and celebration of our unique differences.  Since then, we have achieved many other significant outcomes. and, together, let's celebrate some of them: 
 
Academic Program
  • In 2016, the school's 77th year of operations, the school achieved accreditation by VAIS, firmly securing its place as a premier independent school in the state of Virginia. VAIS accreditation was a multi-year process and we were pleased to learn that the VAIS accreditation team highlighted Congressional's strong academic program and innovative technological infrastructure as areas in which the school excels.
  • The school's overall academic program has evolved into one that is student-centered, grounded in a differentiated and a deeper learning instructional model, and now includes:
    • a multi-track math program based on individual student needs with the early adoption of the Singapore Math and Connected Math programs. 
    • a literacy program with strategies from the nationally renowned literacy thought leaders including Lucy Caulkins, Readers and Writers Workshop, and Nancie Atwell, Center for Teaching and Learning.
    • a rotating flexible six-day schedule in Middle School that increased core academic time and best meets the needs of students.  This enhancement permitted the launch of a Middle School electives program with courses in, among others, the arts, robotics, and coding.  All Middle School students are now also required to take a Financial Literacy course every year. 
    • significant investments and intentional focus in STEM programs and initiatives that included the hiring of the school's first dedicated STEM Educator and upcoming remodeling of two traditional science classrooms into highly engaging Design Labs.
    • an intentional one-to-one technology device program for students in 3rd through 8th grades and a complete rebuild of the school's technological infrastructure.
  • The implementation of the Responsive Classroom and Developmental Designs programs to intentionally focus on the social-emotional needs of children by best equipping teachers.
  • The creation of a faculty professional development program that includes a summer fellowship program where teachers continue their lifelong journey for learning by participating in programs with highly regarded institutions such as Stanford, Harvard, MIT, UVA, and Columbia Universities.
  • An increase in participation in the Middle School athletic program by more than 100% and teams are bringing home banners and awards from within our conference for the first time while employing a no-cut policy.
Business & Operations
  • The school's governance model was restructured to provide, among other things, a pathway to VAIS accreditation.  
  • The school's debt was restructured and allowed for the take-down of an additional $1.2 million to address years of deferred maintenance and school enhancements. 
  • The school's financial position has never been stronger with excellent fiscal management and planning that enabled a restructuring of salaries making the school more competitive in seeking to attract and retain high caliber faculty and staff.
  • Continuing to build on the success of the Summer Camp program and to develop additional revenue streams that help the school maintain highly competitive tuition levels.
  • Campus improvements over the past six years have been many. The sport court was the largest construction project since the gym was built in 1997, and many other improvements have taken place including a new wood gym floor, horse fence, landscaping improvements, Big School library refurbishment, upgrades to the lobbies, lighting, new lockers, carpet, and signage upgrades, to name just a few.
  • The school's culture of philanthropy has been significantly strengthened with impressive growth each year in the school's annual fund, gala, endowment, and restricted gift giving. 
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many gifted and extraordinary people throughout my tenure and words cannot adequately express my heartfelt thanks to all members of the school community for your trust, support, and partnership.  It has been my honor to serve as Congressional's Head of School and I will forever cherish the many relationships established with students, parents, friends, and relatives who have entrusted the education and care of their children to Congressional School.  
 
As we say, once a Colt, always a Colt!  I will continue to cheer for Congressional and I look forward to a terrific 2018 - 2019 school year where the focus remains on igniting the spark in young learners to become great thinkers and leaders.
 
Most sincerely,
 
Janet F. Marsh
Former Head of School

10/10/18: Head of School Departure Announcement

Dear Members of the Congressional Community,
 
I am writing to let you know that after thoughtful discussions with the Board of Trustees and after much consideration, Janet Marsh has decided to step down from her position as Head of School at Congressional, effective October 9, 2018, and pursue other career opportunities. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to thank Janet for her passion and commitment to building a stronger Congressional School and community. To ensure that Congressional School continues to operate without any interruption, we are pleased to announce that Andrea Weiss, Director of Innovation and Learning, will serve as Interim Head of School. The Board of Trustees is confident that nothing will change during this period, and we will work to ensure a smooth transition.
 
Under Janet's leadership, the school has grown in many important ways with perhaps the most significant being that the school received accreditation by the state's premier independent school accreditation agency, the Virginia Association of Independent Schools. The legacy of her work will continue, and I am grateful for the leadership and service she has given to the school during her tenure.
 
The Board of Trustees has already begun a thorough and thoughtful search for a new Head of School who will lead Congressional into its next chapter and secure its place as a premier independent infant-8th grade school in the greater Washington, DC area. As additional information about the search process becomes available, we will share it with the Congressional School community. In the meantime, the Board of Trustees welcomes your thoughts and we look forward to discussing ways in which we can further strengthen this great school.
 
Sincerely,
 
Daniel Timm
Chair, Congressional School Board of Trustees

QUESTIONS?

Please Feel Free to Email the Board of Trustees:

congressionalboard@gmail.com