Laura Bond, Andrea Bergman, Hilary Sims, and Tom Pinneo
The Princeton Friends School Committee is delighted to announce Melissa Carroll as our next Head of School. Melissa’s appointment marks the historic transition from a visionary founders’ era into a bright and robust future. We gratefully acknowledge the vital work of Interim Head of School Angela DeGraff, who has steered our ship to this new horizon with great wisdom, expertise, and heart since coming on board in August 2018. After a months-long period of transitional work, Angela will turn the wheel over to Melissa on July 1, 2020.
Our fourth and final candidate for the Head of School role will be on campus in just one week, on Thursday, October 10. Get ready to meet Melissa Carroll! Melissa’s biography, video introduction, and statement of educational philosophy are below.
Our next finalist for the Head of School role will be on campus in just one week, on Wednesday, October 2. Get ready to meet Jed Silverstein! Jed’s biography, video introduction, and statement of educational philosophy are below.
Our next finalist for the Head of School role will be on campus in just one week, on Wednesday, September 25. Get ready to meet Ben Fussiner! Ben’s biography, video introduction, and statement of educational and leadership philosophy are below.
The Head Search Committee is thrilled to announce that we have narrowed our field of nine semifinalists down to four exciting finalists who will be making full-day visits to see the school in action and meet with students, faculty, parents, Princeton Monthly Meeting, and the School Committee.
The PFS Head Search Committee is excited to share with you an update on the work that we’ve done over the spring and early summer, highlights from feedback we’ve received from you all, and a look at what the next several months have in store.
Your feedback, in the form of roundtables and the community-wide survey, has been invaluable. Apart from providing us with critical insight into the attributes you are looking for in the next Head of School, the process of meeting with parents, faculty/staff, and PMM was a reminder of the deeply thoughtful and engaged community in which PFS lives.
We heard from over 200 of you and, not surprisingly, there were some consistent themes. Below are our takeaways from those forums, captured in three categories: the personal attributes you are looking for in the next Head of School, the experience or capabilities you hope they bring to the position, and your overarching priorities for the school as we move into this next chapter.
You'll continue to hear from us at key intervals in the process. Keep an eye out for updates posted to the PFS website as well as the occasional email. For a timeline of key milestones in the search process so far, as well as the plan going forwad, please see below.
We are galvanized by the progress of the search and are grateful for the participation of our terrific community.
Tom Pinneo & Hilary Sims
Clerks of the PFS Head Search Committee
Charismatic: Capable of projecting a leader’s vision as PFS transitions out of the era of the founding Head of School.
Attuned and Sensitive: Able to read our history and, while acknowledging and respecting our traditions, adroitly show us what to leave behind and what to carry forward.
Curious: A learner who listens attentively; not someone who is simply waiting to speak.
Decisive: Engaged in collaborative discussion but able to choose a course of action, commit to it, and find traction.
Progressive: Committed to and experienced in administering whole-child, constructivist education.
Quaker or Quaker-adjacent: Aligned with Quaker values and the PFS mission, can demonstrate a commitment to racial and socioeconomic diversity; “lets their life speak” through their actions and deeds.
Experience and Capabilities
Educator: A teacher with hands-on experience, preferably in a Quaker school, who is qualified to evaluate and shape curriculum and balance the demands of academics along with the need for social and emotional learning.
Manager: A leader with a demonstrated ability to build and oversee an effective team of administrators and teachers; someone capable of delegating tasks while focusing on the top strategic priorities.
Communicator: As comfortable engaging parents and donors as students and faculty; always open and transparent.
Budget Steward: Someone with proven abilities with managing finances, particularly with respect to fundraising, enrollment, or both.
Crystallize what is unique about PFS: Expand on the Mission Statement by differentiating a PFS education from other local offerings that also say they are progressive.
Enrollment: Guide and support the Director of Admissions to achieve full enrollment.
Advancement: Guide and support the Director of Advancement to meet fundraising goals.
Faculty Support: Collaborate with faculty to provide a consistent system of curricular support and ongoing opportunities for professional development.
Hiring: Follow best hiring practices by posting job openings broadly.
Place: Be more systematic and consistent in weaving our rich location into the curriculum.
Quaker Roots: Live our Quaker values more fully.
Princeton Monthly Meeting: Work to deepen our relationship with PMM.
Recap of Key Milestones & The Plan Going Forward
The Head of School position was posted to sites including:
National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS)
Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS)
Friends Council on Education (FCE)
Progressive Education Network (PEN)
Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS)
National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE)
April and May
The Head Search Committee reached out to the heads of about 90 Quaker schools across the U.S. and abroad to spread the word about the position.
March through May
We established the baseline for our candidate evaluation rubric.
May and early June
We solicited feedback from the broad community via Survey Monkey.
The application deadline closed with close to 30 qualified candidates representing a variety of experiences and coming from across the U.S.
We met with representatives of Princeton Monthly Meeting for a round-table conversation about the priorities for the next Head.
June 3, 5, and 19
We met with parents for roundtable conversations about the priorities for the next Head.
We narrowed the pool of candidates to 9 semifinalists.
We met with faculty/staff representatives to review the notes from their “World Café”–format roundtable with the full faculty and staff, and summed up the faculty and staff's priorities for the next Head.
We set up semifinalist interviews for the second half of July through early August.
We fleshed out our candidate evaluation rubric based on feedback from the round-tables and survey.
The Plan Going Forward:
Semifinalist interviews: second half of July through early August.
Finalist selection: end of August.
Finalist visits at school: early to mid-September.
Extend an offer: mid- to late October.
New Head on-boarding process: throughout spring of 2020.
The Head of School search is under way, and we have been heartened and inspired by the quality and diversity of the candidates who have applied thus far. We’ve also been pleased to note the enthusiasm with which news of the search has been met by those in the extended Quaker school community. It’s a good reminder of what an immensely special place PFS is! As one Friends school head observed to us a couple days ago, “It looks like a fascinating opportunity.”
Indeed, we hope to find candidates who are experienced in the Quaker school tradition, or whose approach fits perfectly with our own, even if they aren’t yet practitioners of Quaker education per se. While we have placed our job posting on several high-impact websites, we believe that our greatest resource in finding the right person may well turn out to be you, our network. If you happen to know of someone who you think might be a good fit, by all means send along their name or encourage them to apply (please ask them to note in their cover letter that you referred them). The application deadline is June 1. Here is a link to the job posting: www.princetonfriendsschool.org/about-us/employment
We are excited about rounding up the best possible candidates in the next several weeks before we begin turning our attention to the next phase of the search.
For over 30 years, Princeton Friends School (PFS) has stood as an oasis of peace, kindness, creativity, open-mindedness, and progressive education. Founded in 1987 by seasoned educators committed to creating an experiential, collaborative and socially engaged pedagogy that encourages each student to reach full potential, PFS has at its heart the Quaker notion that there is an “inner light” in each of us, and each child has unique gifts and talents. Students are called upon to discover their own voices and interests within the framework of robust academics, learning to “let their lives speak.”
Six months ago, I joined this community as the Interim Head of School. I made a two-year commitment to the School Committee (board of trustees) to help build a bridge from the rich legacy of the past into a new era in which the school is well-positioned for a promising future. One of the reasons I was drawn to PFS is because of the wisdom within the School Committee that a two-year transitional period following the founding Head of School was essential to the health and sustainability of the institution before the selection of a new leader.
The School Committee understood that in order to launch a new beginning with a clear sense of shared purpose within the full PFS community, it would need to navigate through times of soul-searching, direction-finding, and re-patterning. It recognized that the school community needed time and space to reflect on what used to be, to make meaning of the transition, and to begin to imagine who and what we want to be in order to arrive at a better version of PFS.
In my experience with previous leadership transitions, I have found that most organizations in the midst of such a change need to engage in active work to move through the process successfully. My role as the Interim Head of School is to shepherd us through these times while ensuring that our talented teachers and staff deliver the high quality education that is a hallmark of PFS.
In addition, I have the dual role to prepare the institution for new leadership and to prepare new leadership to thrive at PFS. My goals for this stream of work can be summarized by four key actions – Stabilize, Search, Select and Sustain.
I am delighted to join the Search Committee in identifying the next Head of School, who will take the helm in July 2020. I have every confidence that the leader who is selected will be empowered to lead the school community in re-envisioning our mission, leveraging the richness of our legacy, building on our core strengths, seizing opportunities, and innovating new processes to guide our school into a bright and robust future.
Our work in seeking and selecting the next Head of School begins. My service on the search committee is yet another way that I can let my life speak.
We are excited to announce the search for Princeton Friends School’s next Head of School. It’s a weighty task and a great privilege to reflect on where we are as an institution, as well as to imagine what the near and midterm future could look like in this community for which we care so deeply.
In 16 short months, on July 1, 2020, we will welcome onto campus a new Head of School who will guide us into that future. The task at hand is to select and transition that person into their new role in a way that ensures that Princeton Friends School remains true to its roots as a standard-bearer of progressive Quaker education, while also growing more fully into its rich potential, for years to come.
As we look to the future, we can rest assured that we are in good hands in the present. Building on the vision of Founding Head Jane Fremon and the three-plus decades of stewardship by Jane and PFS's dedicated faculty and staff, Interim Head Angela DeGraff came aboard in fall 2018 and has brought her own deeply engaging leadership style, as well as critical expertise with executive transitions.
We have recently formed the Head of School Search Committee, co-clerked by Hilary Sims, class of 1999, and Tom Pinneo, parent 2021. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be providing you with regular updates on the timeline and on critical milestones while also taking particular care to ensure that all within the PFS community are provided time and space to engage in the process, ask questions, and offer suggestions. This is the first time we’ve done this in the history of the school, and we need your help! Look for email updates, as well as posts on the PFS website, for information on how you can connect with the committee. And if you happen to know of someone who you think might be a good fit, by all means send along their name or encourage them to apply via the PFS website.
As we embark on this important and exciting work, we will be guided by our mission statement and the strategic plan. We are committed to hearing from you, our cherished community, and to remaining mindful, always, of conducting ourselves in accordance with the Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship.
With great hope and anticipation for what lies ahead, Hilary Sims and Tom Pinneo, Clerks of the Head Search Committee