Head of School Search
- Feb. 21 Update
- Head of School Announcement
- Oct. 30 Update
- Oct. 9 Update
- Aug. 26 Update
- Jul. 24 Update
- Jun. 25 Update
- Jun. 17 Update
I wanted to take a minute to introduce the Transition Committee and give you an update on what has been happening behind the scenes as we look forward to welcoming Will Norton as our next Head of School. Our committee is made up of nine individuals from various constituencies in our community, and they have all committed to helping the transition process over the next 12 months. The members are as follows:
Anne Lucas, Transition Committee Chair, Board of Trust Vice-Chair
Michelle Florez, Kindergarten Teacher
Sue Gering, Board of Trust member
Jeanette Leggett, Executive Assistant to the Interim Head of School
Amy Nickels, Lower School Division Head and Interim Upper School Division Head
Brandon Rife, Board of Trust Chair
Erika Shapiro, Junior Kindergarten Teacher
Alli Simpson, Center for Student Success Teacher
Charlotte Ward, St. Paul parent
The role of this committee is to support the outgoing Head, the incoming Head, as well as the faculty, staff, and parent community during this time of transition. Much of the timeline for the work we are doing has been guided by The Education Group, and we are thankful for their continued engagement during this season.
We are excited to announce that Will is visiting St. Paul on March 2 to meet with the full faculty and staff and spend some time on campus. He has received information packets from each grade level as well as from the CSS so that he can get an overview of what the year looks like at each step along a student's journey through St. Paul. He is making progress on the Admissions Director hire as well as the Upper School Division Head position. He will be reviewing applications and interviewing candidates in the weeks to come and will be working alongside the Administrative Team on these hires. Will, Julie Dilworth, and Kay Herring will also be hosting two Admissions Zooms during this coming week for prospective families as well as for families that have come to St. Paul after the start of this school year.
We enter this season of transition being thankful for the incredible year we have had in the midst of truly extraordinary circumstances while also preparing for the excitement of spring and for the future of St. Paul Christian Academy.
Transition Committee Chair
Dear St. Paul community and friends,
On June 25, 2020, St. Paul Christian Academy announced the beginning of a search for the next head of school. Throughout this search process, our prayer as a Board has been for guidance from the Lord and for clear conviction regarding the best person for the job.
Today, I am delighted to announce Will Norton has agreed to become St. Paul Christian Academy’s next Head of School effective July 1, 2021. Will was selected unanimously and with much enthusiasm by our Board of Trustees. Throughout the search process, we were grateful for the input from parents, faculty, and the St. Paul Search Committee, all of which aligned with a clear call for Will to lead St. Paul.
Will is currently the Executive Director for JH Outback in Birmingham, Alabama. Prior to this, he worked at Montgomery Bell Academy from 2008-2019, most recently serving as Dean of the High School.
He and his wife Heather are parents of three boys: Wills (13), Charlie (11), and Kingsley (5). From his undergraduate studies at Wake Forest University, to his time as a Captain in the United States Army, to earning a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Lipscomb University, Will is a true academician, a lifelong learner, and an energetic educator and leader.
Will's acceptance letter to the Board read:
Heather and I are overwhelmed with gratitude for the special opportunity for me to serve St. Paul as Head of School. Our family has always known St. Paul as “home.” When we told our boys this news this past weekend, the tears of joy that flowed illustrated clearly what St. Paul means to our family. St. Paul is a place where our boys have been known and loved well. We look forward to ensuring this legacy—along with the academic and other character legacies—continues, while seeking God, as we look to lead St. Paul into wonderful years ahead. It is a dream come true for us to journey, as Head of School, with students and families through the impressionable and foundation-critical elementary years. We could not be more thrilled to enjoy this season at St. Paul with you!
I would like to say a special thank you to the Search Committee Chairman Kit Ozburn, the Search Committee (Andrew Ward, Anne Lucas, Amy Stone, Jennifer Anderson, and Ben Sensing), and the Board of Trustees for the countless hours dedicated to the search and to St. Paul.
Thank you for your continued prayers for St. Paul, for its future head of school, and for the future of our school.
On behalf of the St. Paul Board of Trustees,
Chair of the Board of Trustees
Dear St. Paul community,
It is with great excitement and clarity that I offer this update to you. Over the past several weeks, the Search Committee has reviewed candidates from all over the country. Out of dozens of submissions, the field was narrowed to 16 very interesting candidates. Then, this past weekend, the Search Committee devoted significant time to questions and conversations with each of the seven semifinalist candidates. You should know that these candidates were of such excellent caliber, the Committee was worried about the difficult task of reducing these to a manageable roster of finalists. It has warmed my heart to witness these candidates’ hearts for Christian education and to marvel at the Lord drawing them to the mission of St. Paul.
It gives me great joy to share with you that we have narrowed this esteemed field to three candidates. We are so excited to introduce them to you during the Finalist Week activities occurring Monday, Nov. 9 to Saturday, Nov. 14. Until then, the Search Committee will be fully engaged in many activities, including reviewing the candidates’ references in great detail, so we are not yet ready to reveal their names. I can share that each candidate has accepted this offer to the finalist round with enthusiasm and excitement!
We want to share the schedule for Finalist Week. Each candidate will spend portions of three days engaged in various activities with every segment of our community. There will be a specific time for you to engage with each candidate. When the Search Committee began this effort, the seven of us committed not to miss a single event so that we could hold our obligation with the utmost sincerity and render our best judgment at the conclusion of the process. In order to continue the integrity of the process, I would ask that each of you commit enough time with each candidate that you are also able to offer your comment on behalf of St. Paul and its mission.
Please see the public forums listed below for Faculty and Parents to attend in the C.S. Lewis Library. Due to COVID-19 guidelines, the Parent Forums will be conducted in a manner similar to the forums in July. In-person attendance will be limited to 25 attendees, which will be managed via a sign-up genius. Temperatures will be taken upon arrival, and everyone in attendance will be required to wear a mask and maintain a physical distance of at least six feet. Zoom options will be offered so that no one is excluded from participating. Both Zoom and Sign-Up Genius links will be emailed next week. Please see this schedule of events so that you are able to begin making arrangements.
Candidate A: Monday, Nov. 9 at 3:45 p.m. (C.S. Lewis Library & Zoom)
Candidate B: Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 3:45 p.m. (C.S. Lewis Library & Zoom)
Candidate C: Monday, Nov. 13 at 3:45 p.m. (C.S. Lewis Library & Zoom)
Candidate A: Monday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. and Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 8:30 a.m.
Candidate B: Wednesday Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 12 at 8:30 a.m.
Candidate C: Friday, Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 14 at 8:30 a.m.
Near the end of each candidate’s visit, a survey will be issued to capture your thoughts, and then The Education Group will present these results to the Search Committee for their consideration. Please be aware of the important qualifier that a survey link will only be issued to those who attend events in person or via Zoom. This condition is very important for us to maintain the integrity of the process. So, please make room in your schedules to attend all of the events.
Finally, and most importantly, would you please pray for St. Paul, its mission, and its next Head of School. We have witnessed the profound interest and deep love that these candidates have for the mission of St. Paul Christian Academy. We have three dear families who have embarked on an uncertain and risky journey. Please pray for their care through this process. We would also ask that you continue to pray for the members of the Search Committee and the Board of Trust, as we join together for the flourishing of St. Paul through this decision.
On to the Finals!
With many thanks,
Search Committee Chair
Dear St. Paul Community,
What a delight it is to send an update of excitement and encouragement today! Please know that The Education Group and the Search Committee have been very hard at work reviewing a wealth of information regarding candidate data.
When we initiated this process, we committed to conducting a process that is thorough, inclusive, and transparent. I am pleased to share with you that our search has received a level of interest exceeding our initial expectations, touched every corner of our nation, and caused a tremendous amount of excitement within our committee on the future leadership of St. Paul Christian Academy!
With the changing seasons, I am reminded that the Lord blesses us in special ways during transitions, causing us to reflect at the passing time and pause in wonder at the coming. Please join me in our growing excitement and deep gratitude for the rich way the Lord has blessed St. Paul Christian Academy already in this period of transition. The Search Committee is thrilled to press forward into the next phase of this process, and we look forward to sharing more information and introducing finalists to the community in November. Please keep this process, the Academy, and our future Head of School in your prayers.
With many thanks,
Search Committee Chair
Dear St. Paul Community,
I hope this message finds you doing well today and enjoying the excitement only the opening weeks of school can provide! On behalf of the Search Committee, we would like to provide a brief update on the search process. During this phase, The Education Group is hard at work. The Profile has been distributed into countless outlets, and they are communicating within their vast network on a daily basis. While we are not privy to any specifics, the Search Committee enjoyed meeting with Katherine and Dave earlier this month, and we all were encouraged with continued positive feedback from the Profile launch. Once this phase of solicitation and pre-screening is complete in late September, the Search Committee is looking forward to receiving all data from Katherine and Dave and then beginning the semifinalist interview phase.
During this unusual time, I will personally admit to periods of anxiety. COVID-19 is definitely to blame for much of this, but also I would like to recognize that seasons of transition also include anxiety. From the Search Committee’s perspective, we would like to relieve some of those worries and share our confidence with you that the process has been moving ahead smoothly and meeting every milestone to date.
Please know how deeply we care about the mission of St. Paul Christian Academy, this important discernment process, and your input. If you have any suggestions for candidates or feedback at all, please feel free to reach out directly to Dave and Katherine. They would love to hear from you!
With many thanks,
Search Committee Chair
Dear St. Paul Community,
On behalf of the Search Committee, we wanted to offer you a brief update of recent activities. A few weeks ago, we hosted two parent forums and two faculty forums. Between these four, hour-long events, we hosted over 120 guests to hear our presentation, field questions, and discuss the upcoming process. We reviewed the results of the surveys for which we received very significant responses, both in quantity and quality. In addition, Katherine and Dave from The Education Group interviewed all members of the Admin team, the Search Committee, and the Board of Trust. Finally, Katherine was able to spend time on campus last week, enjoying a tour and interacting with even more members of the faculty, including our new admissions team members.
All in all, the past few weeks have been incredibly fruitful for developing the Position Profile for our next Head of School. In addition to that direct activity, these past few weeks have afforded members of the community opportunities to work together, gather safely even during a pandemic, and share their dreams for St. Paul Christian Academy. Your input has been invaluable to create a snapshot of the vast qualities and characteristics that contribute to making St. Paul Christian Academy such a special place and to preserving such an important mission.
At this time, we are excited to announce that the Position Profile is complete and is currently posted on multiple outlets. Please see the link below. During this next time period, the outward appearance might seem like little is occurring, but please be assured that this is an extraordinarily busy phase! Dave and Katherine will be recruiting, interviewing, and pre-screening candidates and their portfolios. The Search Committee will be connecting regularly with The Education Group during this phase, and we will continue to offer updates as relevant information becomes available.
More than anything, please continue to pray for the Lord’s hand in every aspect of this process. Thank you for the trust and patience that you are affording the Committee to perform its very best during this process, and please know that we are so grateful to be serving the mission of St. Paul Christian Academy. Please always feel free to reach out to me at any time with your thoughts or ideas.
Dear St. Paul Community,
It brings me great joy to connect with all of you today! I am honored to have been asked by the Board of Trust to serve as Chair of the Search Committee to identify St. Paul Christian Academy’s next Head of School. In addition to six years of service on the Board, I am the proud parent of Carter (15), Anna Brooks (12), and John Benton (7). By the time JB graduates, my wife Natalie and I will have spent 15 consecutive years loving St. Paul!
I am pleased to offer you this update on the progress we have already made in the search for our next Head of School. The Board of Trust has made some important decisions, and we have identified the next steps in the process.
The Board has appointed a Search Committee including the following members:
When assembling this Committee, three guiding principles became clear. First, the Academy deserves a thorough process that casts a broad net for all prospective candidates and applies a high level of screening to qualify the best candidates. Also, the Committee is committed to an inclusive process that captures the input of our broader community and allows for deeper connections with our powerful mission. Finally, the Committee will operate with the highest degree of transparency that is reasonable for such a sensitive process. To this end, the Committee promises to communicate regularly via multiple platforms so that information is shared quickly and accurately.
From a practical standpoint, the Search Committee’s role is to lead a comprehensive, national process to identify appropriate candidates, review applications, select semi-finalists and finalists, and ultimately collaborate with the Board of Trust on the final decision in hiring the best candidate.
I have quickly learned that Head of School searches are highly complex processes. As such, we are thrilled to introduce our partner, The Education Group, a national search consulting firm, who will work side by side with us throughout the process. Katherine Stuart, President of The Education Group, and Dave Davies, consultant, will work with our Search Committee. Katherine is an experienced search consultant who lives in Nashville with a keen knowledge of our market, and Dave has forty-two years of experience in independent school administration and has led multiple searches since joining The Education Group.
To actively engage our community, we have impressed upon Katherine and Dave our desire to include all voices from the St. Paul community in this process. There will be at least three opportunities for parents and faculty to communicate their thoughts, hopes, and dreams around this transition. First, we have offered a survey to the community. The Education Group will receive the responses and will tabulate the answers and draw out of those responses the sense of our community.
Secondly, we will have open conversations during the week of July 6 with various constituencies. I encourage as many of you who are able to participate. Please note the following Open Forums for Parents:
Open Parent Forum #1
Tuesday, July 7
4 p.m. C.S. Lewis Library
Open Parent Forum #2
Wednesday, July 8
9 a.m. C.S. Lewis Library
Due to Phase 3 restrictions in Metro Nashville, we will be limiting the attendees to 25 maximum, and a Sign-Up Genius will be sent for each of these meetings. In addition to meeting in person, we will establish Zoom capabilities for these events. If these two meetings reach capacity, we are happy to schedule additional forums so that every member of our community is able to attend in person if they prefer.
Finally, once the process progresses to the finalist stage, several opportunities will be provided for constituents to meet the candidates and to provide feedback to the Search Committee.
The first significant step in the process is the development of a position profile. The Education Group will draft this based on conversations with the Board, the community survey, and meetings with school constituencies. This profile becomes the primary marketing piece which, along with the school’s website, will ensure an attractive and appropriate slate of candidates.
The Education Group will distribute the profile broadly and will contact its extensive network of consultants and candidates. They will conduct the initial review of individuals who express interest and will then provide a vetted slate of candidates to the Committee.
The Search Committee has committed to a transparent process where we will communicate progress regularly to the community. A landing page has been established on the St. Paul website where all information will be posted regarding the status of the search process.
We are also establishing an email address for the search committee and encourage you to send questions or thoughts about the search. That email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and it should be operational early next week. Please also feel free to reach out to me or any member of the Search Committee directly.
Most importantly, on behalf of the entire Search Committee and Board of Trust, please know how meaningful your trusting engagement is to all of us. In every moment along this path, the Lord has personally reminded me in His mercy that He is doing special and important work in the mission of St. Paul Christian Academy. What a privilege it is to be a part of His work!
Please also join us in prayer during this season. We pray that the Lord moves in a mighty way through our community during this time and also that He stirs an irresistible calling in our next Head of School. We are excited about this next chapter in St. Paul’s history as a school, and I look forward to working alongside the school community throughout this process.
With all gratitude,
Search Committee Chair
A Letter from our Board of Trust
To Our St. Paul Community,
I write to you this evening on behalf of the St. Paul Board of Trust to share some important news about the future of our school.
After heartfelt discussion and considerable prayer, the Board of Trust and Dr. Jason Powell have mutually agreed to end Dr. Powell’s leadership of our school. The Board appreciates Dr. Powell’s contributions to St. Paul, and I know that you join me in wishing him, his wife Amy, and their beautiful family the very best.
St. Paul is enormously blessed that Susan Cobb has graciously agreed to serve as interim head of school, effective immediately. No one is better suited to lead the school at this time. Her professionalism, commitment to excellence, and dedication to St. Paul are unfailing. In meeting with Susan over the last few days, I have been humbled by her passion for our school and impressed with the plans and preparation she has in place for our children’s return to campus in August. We are grateful for her willingness to serve.
The Board is in the process of finalizing the engagement of a national recruiting firm that specializes in placing executives in independent primary schools. Recruitment efforts will begin immediately to ensure we have access to a full and highly qualified pool of potential leaders.
Additionally, the Board is in the process of empaneling two committees to support our efforts to identify our next head of school:
- Kit Ozburn has agreed to chair a Search Committee to oversee a recruitment process that is thorough, inclusive, and transparent. The committee will be comprised of current and past Board members, parents, and at least one active member of the St. Paul faculty.
- Board Vice-Chair Anne Lucas will chair a Transition Committee to support Susan Cobb and ensure direct engagement with St. Paul administration, faculty, staff, and the parent community – through the search process and as our new head of school transitions into our community.
Throughout the summer and until the search is complete, the Board and Search Committee will actively engage and update our full school community in the search process. In addition to email updates, we will establish a page on the website that will provide information about the process and updates on our progress. And as we identify finalists, we plan to host forums in which you can meet, hear from and interact with the candidates themselves.
For today, and as we move forward in the search process, we ask everyone in our St. Paul community to pray.
- Pray for the Powells as they prepare for the transition ahead;
- Pray for Susan Cobb and her leadership team. God has given them unique talents and dedicated hearts, but these are challenging times for educators everywhere, and they need our prayers and support;
- Pray for our faculty and administrative staff as they support the school through this transition and continue to nurture and develop our children;
- Pray for our Board and its committees as they lead the school through this process and prepare St. Paul for the future;
- And pray for our future head of school, that he or she will hear God’s calling and follow His lead to our school.
I hope you and your family are well and enjoying the summer. Thank you for being part of our special community at St. Paul Christian Academy.
Chair of the St. Paul Board of Trust
• Jennifer Anderson
• Anne Lucas
• Brandon Rife
• Ben Sensing
• Amy Stone
• Andrew Ward
• Michelle Florez
• Sue Gehring
• Jeanette Leggett
• Amy Nickels
• Brandon Rife
• Erika Shapiro
• Alli Simpson
• Charlotte Ward