Head of School Search Updates

Jul 11, 2017

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May 17, 2017
 
Dear Oakwood Community,
 
Last night I informed the Board of Trustees that I will complete my Oakwood career at the end of my contract period, June 30, 2018. This was certainly a difficult decision to make. I love The Oakwood School: its faculty, staff, students, alumni, and parents. I realize, however, that I will soon be 67 years old, and the time is right for me to step down at the completion of my contract period. While Gini and I will enjoy more time doing some of the things we love, we will also enjoy keeping in touch with all of you. Our hearts will always be with each one of you and with The Oakwood School.
 
I thank Oakwood's Board of Trustees, the faculty and staff, and the students and their parents for making this part of my work's journey so fulfilling and rewarding. In the summer of 2007, I remember reading Oakwood's mission, philosophy, and belief statements and feeling drawn to them and then coming to The Oakwood School for the first time that August and witnessing Oakwood's spirit on full display. It was late afternoon and students, parents, and teachers were meeting one another at the PSA sponsored Meet and Greet. I saw firsthand how caring and nurturing Oakwood's teachers are and how excited the students and their families were to be back on campus after summer vacation. The Oakwood campus looked glorious on this special afternoon before the first day of school. In addition to meeting so many individuals that afternoon, I was struck once again by Oakwood's mission statement: "The Oakwood School seeks to instill in its students the strength of character, the creativity, and the wisdom to make a difference in the world". These words spoke volumes to me and because of them as well as the wonderful people I met and the challenge of growing an Upper School, I was determined to become part of this young and vibrant school that clearly knew where it was headed.
 
The nine years that I have been at the school have been incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. As a community, we have accomplished much during these years. The school has grown in stature and in enrollment numbers. The five founding families had a clear vision for the school and worked tirelessly to start and develop the school, which we all love and are grateful for. The Oakwood School is Greenville's only non-sectarian independent school, and our challenging 21st century programs offer outstanding preparation for students in the ever-changing world in which they live. I know that the five founding families are extremely proud of the way Oakwood has developed over its 21-year history. It is a school that truly showcases their dreams and aspirations.
 
I look forward to leading Oakwood through the 2017-2018 school year and ensure a seamless transition in leadership at The Oakwood School. I promise each of you that I will work diligently with the Board of Trustees and its Search Committee to find the most capable individual from a nationwide search. The Oakwood School is in a great position to attract a leader from a pool of the finest educators to become the fifth head of school.
 
Sincerely,
 
Robert R. Peterson
Head of School
 
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May 17, 2017

Dear Oakwood Community,

Rob Peterson will be completing his 10th year as our Head of School at the end of his contract term on June 30, 2018. As a result of his excellent leadership and dedication to Oakwood, the Board of Trustees offered Rob the opportunity to extend his career at Oakwood for three more years, until June of 2021. Tuesday evening, Rob Peterson informed the Board of Trustees that he would not be accepting our offer of an extension. While we are disappointed with this decision, we respect that Rob and Gini are entering the next phase of their lives beginning next July, 2018 and wish them the very best.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we say thank you to Rob for guiding The Oakwood School with extraordinary leadership and an unfailing commitment to the mission of the school. Nine years ago, Rob delivered the steady hand that Oakwood needed and has continued to grow our faculty, academics, fundraising, structure and standing. We can easily say that Oakwood would not be where it is today if not for Rob's vision and guidance.

We as a school were also fortunate to inherit a tremendous teacher in Gini Peterson when we made the decision to hire Rob. We celebrate the great contributions Gini has made in the Middle School and say thank you to her for kindness, generosity and dedication. We look forward to working with Rob and Gini this next year and also celebrating their contributions.

Tuesday evening, the Board of Trustees authorized a search for the next head of The Oakwood School. Our promise to you is we will find a head that will embody the mission and values of our proud school. They will know who we are, what we value and type of student we produce. Our goal is to have this person hired before the end of the calendar year, with a beginning date of July 1st, 2018.

The first charge is to create a search committee consisting of trustees, a member of the faculty and administration and other community members. We will soon hire a consultant to lead us through the process. This will include soliciting input from faculty, parents and students. You may be called on to be included in this process.

The most important responsibility of a Board of Trustees is hiring the head, who is the Board's sole employee. We take this charge with the utmost seriousness and urgency. The search committee and Board appreciate your support as we undertake this most important process.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dave Hunt
President, Board of Trustees
 
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June 8, 2017
 
Dear Members of the Oakwood Community,
 
I am 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 Oakwood, one that the Board of Trustees is undertaking with both eager anticipation and great care.
 
Ten members of the school community have been appointed to serve as the Head of School Search Committee. They are:
  • Dave Hunt, Search Committee Chair - parent, trustee, and Board President
  • Randy Fry, Search Committee Vice Chair - parent, trustee
  • Ira Adler - parent, trustee
  • William Monk - community member, past parent, supporter
  • Ogi Obi - parent, trustee
  • Jennifer Smith - parent, faculty, administration (US Division Coordinator)
  • Sangita Tewari - parent, alumni parent, past trustee
  • Jennifer Youngs - parent
  • Alicia Hawk, Search Committee Secretary - alumni parent, administration (Director of Advancement), past trustee, past Board President
  • Eileen Van Houten, Search Committee Advisor - alumni parent, past trustee, past Board President, past Search Committee Chair
We are pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees has retained the highly respected educational consulting firm of Wickenden Associates in Princeton, New Jersey, to assist us in the search. Wickenden Associates has conducted more than 375 Head of School searches for a wide variety of schools across the nation. Senior Search Consultants Sue Walters and Linda Knights visited the school on June 26 and 27 to meet with the Search Committee and conduct a series of interviews with representatives of each of the school's constituencies. The information they collected will help them to 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.
 
Thank you in advance for your support as we undertake this important and exciting work on behalf of The Oakwood School. Rest assured that we will keep you informed as the process proceeds.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dave Hunt
Chair of the Search Committee
President, Board of Trustees
 

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Head of School Search Schedule

 
The Board of Trustee's Search Committee is committed to run an inclusive process that appropriately engages members of the school family while protecting necessary confidentiality of candidates. Search consultant, Wickenden and Associates, is helping our school to facilitate this process with the following schedule, so stay tuned for updates!
  • May 2017 - Announcement of current Head's departure and search. COMPLETED
  • May, June - Launch search. Establish a Head of School Search Committee. Interview and hire a search consultant. Learn about school and current needs, challenges, and opportunities by visiting campus and interviewing members of the school family, as well as conducting an online survey and soliciting nominations to apply for this position. COMPLETED
  • July - Create an Opportunity Statement based on feedback from our school family that will be used to advertise the position on a local, regional, and national level. Based on this survey and interview feedback, the Board of Trustees will create a charge for the new Head of School, as well as work with our current Head of School on a similar charge to solidify his 10-year legacy and ensure the next Head of School is set for success.
  • June, July, August, September - Advertise Head of School position, create a short-list of semi-finalists, and conduct reference checks.
  • October - Conduct semi-finalists interviews and short-list finalists.
  • October, November - Conduct finalist interviews engaging various school constituencies. Provide a follow-up online evaluation form to be used by those who meet finalists. Make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees for approval. Hopefully secure a finalist if this person accepts the offer! 
  • December - Finalize a Head of School contract and announce new Head of School's appointment.
  • January to June 2018 - Establish a Head of School Transition Committee. Ensure our current Head of School is actively engaged in this process. Celebrate and honor our current Head of School's 10-year legacy and retirement.
  • July - New Head of School starts for the 2018-2019 school year.

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Head of School Search Feedback


Thank you to over 146 members of the Oakwood family who contributed to the online survey and over 50 members who participated in the face-to-face interviews with Wickenden on June 24-26. Their visit was very productive and the next steps are underway to prepare an Opportunity Statement and advertise this opening. Some of the areas suggested for our next Head of School's desired qualities and qualifications include: 
  • An advanced degree 
  • Business savvy 
  • Charisma and diplomacy 
  • Clear and innovative vision for Oakwood's future 
  • Curricular development experience 
  • Enthusiasm for Oakwood's identity and mission 
  • Excellent communication skills 
  • Experience working in independent schools 
  • Fundraising and marketing experience 
  • Genuine, approachable leadership style 
  • Insight into current educational practices 
  • Transparency 
  • Turnaround specialist 
  • Understanding of Greenville's culture 
  • Willingness to make difficult decisions for the good of the school 


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