Head of School Transition 2024

Head of School Transition 2024- Update from the Search Committee

Dear THS Community,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, it is our pleasure to announce that Tracie Mastronicola will be The Healdsburg School’s next Head of School!

Tracie comes to us from the San Francisco Friends School in San Francisco, where she is currently the Associate Head of School. Prior to that, she was the Academic Dean. She brings over 20 years of experience in education, and more than seven years of senior leadership experience to the role. This depth of experience threads through every aspect of leading a school, from admissions to fundraising, parent relationships to student experience, communications to culture.

The Search Committee was extremely impressed with Tracie’s purpose-driven and reflective nature, and we are confident that her spirit, energy and enthusiasm will resonate throughout our community. While we were fortunate to have an excellent slate of applicants, as we continued our work into the final round and beyond, it became clear that Tracie was our person and both the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees were unanimous in our decision.

We also wish to extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone in our community who participated in this process, with a special mention to the faculty and administrative staff for their time and energy. We are tremendously grateful to our Head of School Search Committee, Trustees, and RG175 for their devotion and commitment. This process also involved thoughtful participation from the parent community, and we truly appreciated all the different ways people showed up. It took a village…our village.

Finally, the Board is grateful to Andy Davies for all that she has done for THS during her tenure. THS is a thriving community in an excellent financial position, and we look forward to working with her over the next six months as she continues to lead the school and ensures that we are well equipped for the leadership transition.

Between now and when she officially joins on July 1, 2024, Tracie will be working with us to pave the way for a smooth start to this next chapter. Please join us in welcoming Tracie to the THS community! Sincerely, Ian Marquis Chair, Board of Trustees The Healdsburg School Laura Kirk-Lee Co-Chair, Head of School Search Committee Jason Cunningham Co-Chair, Head of School Search Committee

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Dear THS Community,

It is with immense gratitude that I reach out to all of you for making my visit in November a time filled with authentic connection and learning. In every corner of the school and within each introduction and conversation, I felt the heartbeat of a community that is committed in both mind and heart to doing something so crucial for the next generation. I am profoundly honored – and very excited – to join the THS community in this work.

Beyond the gratitude and excitement that developed during my time at THS, there was a more elusive emotion that came into focus for me as I got to know the THS campus and community.

In June of 2023, a friend of mine gave me the book Awe by Dacher Keltner. It was an end of year (school year, of course) gift and I had every intention of reading it over the summer. I packed it in my bag on our family vacation – and didn’t read it. I brought it with me on some shorter overnight summer adventures – I didn’t even open it. I left it on the top of the stack of books on my nightstand – I didn’t crack it open until October. The night that I submitted my application to THS, I was nervous, a bit excited, a bit of everything really, and I couldn’t sleep – so I opened the book and began reading a little.

I am a slow reader. I mark up pages, fold down the corners on parts that I do not want to forget, and take notes on my phone. As a result, I was reading Awe for almost the entire journey of the search process with THS.

For me, ever since I was a kid, “awe” was almost always felt when I was in nature. I felt awe when I looked up at the night sky. My dad told me that the light from the stars that I was seeing was actually light that took about seven years to travel to earth. Light from seven years ago?! Being in the presence of something vast and challenging my understanding of the world – that certainly made me feel a sense of deep awe.

As an adult, I still feel awe when I look up into the night sky or out at the vast ocean, but more than ever, for me, people bring out a sense of awe. The ways in which we inspire each other to be better because we recognize that we are part of a greater whole – a community in support of one another, accomplishing more together than we can alone.

Reading Awe during my search process, I was certainly primed to think about when I feel awe in my day to day. I didn’t even fully get out of my car before I felt awe for the THS community. I was greeted by an extremely enthusiastic THS community member at 7:00 am. “Good morning!” they exclaimed. Their greeting did much more than make me feel welcome, it shifted me out of a nervous state and made me feel a sense of connection. This sense of connection and community existed throughout every moment of my time at THS. Beyond the parking lot, into the quad, the classrooms, the garden and play spaces, in my conversation with parents, even the carpool line – I experienced a connected community dedicated to educating students to be active and engaged citizens in the work of their generation – whether that was through critical thinking questions and discourse, the creation of artwork or the indomitable spirit of play.

Communities such as THS don’t ignite awe in me because they make everything look easy or because they have everything figured out – they inspire awe because of the human bonds that connect the community through the good times and the challenging times. They are places that can hold multiple truths at once and are able to embrace tension because of the trust and good will that are tended to each and every day. With all of that, such communities are able to accomplish far more together than any one individual can alone. THS, this is you, and I am so honored and privileged to join a community so resilient but also vulnerable, ambitious but sincere, sophisticated but authentic.

A team like THS has the capacity to affect change, be changed, and in the process, if we are lucky, touch the future.

I’m so excited to join you all. Let’s go do something awesome — together.

With gratitude and excitement,

Tracie Mastronicola

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About the Search

Update: September 1, 2023

We are excited about progress in our search for the next THS Head of School and happy to share that the school is generating remarkable interest from a robust candidate pool of experienced administrators. We are also grateful for the leadership of our search consultants Debbie Reed and Tony Featherston, of RG 175, who have created a thoughtful process for the initial candidate recruitment and evaluation. Many of you have expressed interest in the recruitment process and we would like to provide an update on our work, announce committee members, and communicate next steps.

Discovery and Recruitment

Tony and Debbie (RG175), Laura Kirk Lee and Jason Cunningham (Search Committee Co-Chairs), and Ian Marquis (THS Board Chair) met regularly during the spring and summer, working together to create a position statement with an authentic overview of the role and opportunity at THS, and connecting with interested candidates from around the world. This process has now concluded with over 35 applications.

Board Search Committee:

Jason Cunningham, James Driscoll, Gabriel Froymovich, Laura Kirk Lee, Catalina Marin, Ian Marquis, Sandi Passalacqua

 THS Faculty/Staff Panel:

Karla Becerra, Tanya Bruno, Kiley Clark, Justin Herrguth, Myra Leslie, Connie Schlotthauer, Jami Trinidad, Jessie Weinman

Next steps:

Initial Candidate Review, mid-August – early October:

  • Board Search Committee receives coaching and bias mitigation training.
  • Completed candidate files are sent to the Search Committee for review individually.
  • Board Search Committee meets with Tony and Debbie to select six to eight semifinal candidates.
  • Semifinal candidates interviewed by Search Committee in person (or via zoom if required)
  • Three or four candidates are chosen as finalists.

Finalist Evaluation, late October – mid-November:

  • Three or four finalist candidates will each visit THS for a day and a half. Finalist visits are tentatively scheduled for October 26-28, November 1-3, November 6-8, and November 13-15.
  • Through a series of individual conferences, small group meetings, and larger group settings, parents, faculty, staff, and students will all have an opportunity to engage with each finalist. 
  • Additionally, the finalists will meet with our THS Faculty/Staff Panel who will develop a set of questions with Tony and Debbie to be asked of all the candidates. The panel will write a consensus document summarizing each candidate’s strengths and challenges.
  • After each finalist visit, surveys will be sent to all stakeholders for community feedback.

Decision, late November – early December

  • Once all the finalists have been on campus, the Search Committee comes to a decision based on all information, including multiple interviews, consultant interview reports, background and reference checks, faculty input, and community input.
  • The Search Committee makes a recommendation for the next Head to the Board for its vote.
  • Offer extended to final candidates and announcement to the community.

We appreciate your trust and patience with this important process and are thrilled to move forward together to a bright future at THS!

Sincerely,

Laura Kirk Lee – Search Committee Co-Chair

Jason Cunningham – Search Committee Co-Chair

Ian Marquis – THS Board President

Search Consultants

The search for the next Head of The Healdsburg School will be conducted in partnership with RG175, an industry-leading consulting firm that specializes in searches for independent school leadership. They are committed to highly personalized leadership and governance consulting to schools, based on the values of integrity, inclusivity, knowledge, and flexibility. THS will be assisted by two experienced educators and consultants, Tony Featherston and Deborah Reed.