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: email@example.com.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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.
Updates regarding the search will be shared via email with the immediate school community and through updates to this webpage.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents also can meet with candidates during their site visits as part of the interview process.
You can contact the Search Committee Co-chairs via e-mail: Todd West and Sandra P. Buteau at: email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Search Committee Co-Chairs
Interim Head of School
Director of Innovation and Learning
- 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.
- 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.
Former Head of School