The Search for Sequoyah's

New Head of School

Interim Head of School
Announcement

Mike McGill

Interim Head of School
Letter from the Search Committee

Dear Sequoyah Community,

We are pleased to announce to you today that, on the unanimous recommendation of our Search Committee, the Board of Trustees has selected Mike McGill as our Interim Head of School for the period January 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023.

Mike brings over 35 years of experience as an educator and administrator in independent progressive schools. Before serving as Head of School for almost a decade at The Northwest School in Seattle, Mike held roles including teacher, coach, Dean of Students, and Upper School Principal at The Park School of Baltimore and The Cambridge School of Weston.

Mike has overseen all aspects of independent school operations, including strategic planning, the development of academic and co-curricular programs, admissions, finance, facilities, and hiring and evaluating staff.

Those who have worked with Mike describe him as collaborative, an excellent listener, student-centric, an environmentalist, thoughtful, witty, communicative, and visible. His former colleagues emphasized that he leads by example – and keeps an open door with a well-stocked cookie jar. The Search Committee was impressed by his deep experience in progressive education, his emotional intelligence and positive energy, and his embrace of Sequoyah’s culture.

We extend our deep gratitude to our entire community for your thoughtful input throughout this process. Survey responses highlighted community priorities and created the job description for our interim and permanent Head of School positions.

We are also grateful to our fellow Search Committee members who dedicated countless hours to accomplishing this appointment in a condensed time period.

As you know, the Search Committee’s work is ongoing, and now we turn our full attention to the permanent Head of School search. We are currently in a “quiet period” as applicants submit information through the mid-October deadline, followed by confidential reviewing and interviewing of the applicants. After that, all constituencies in our community – faculty, staff, administrators, students, and parents – will have the opportunity to meet and engage with the final candidates. We will endeavor to adhere to our Search Timeline throughout, and you may always refer to our FAQs or email us with any questions.

In accepting his new position, Mike asked us to share a letter, included below. We are fully confident that he will be able to rely on our entire community to facilitate a smooth transition and to help Sequoyah successfully continue to challenge minds, nurture hearts, and celebrate human dignity.

Please join us in welcoming Mike to Sequoyah!

Sincerely,


Michael Barak
Co-Chair, Search Committee


Renee Dake Wilson
Co-Chair, Search Committee


Laura Gowen
President, Board of Trustees

Letter from Mike McGill

Dear Sequoyah School Community,

I am thrilled and honored to be joining you this coming January. Having spent my entire career in progressive independent schools, Sequoyah’s values, philosophy, programs, and decades-long commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion resonate deeply with me.

Indeed, as I’ve gotten to know the school over the past few months – albeit at a distance – it seems very much like the kind of place that my wife and I sought for our own children back in the day: one that shared our belief that kids are innately curious and eager to learn, and that recognized that a diverse student body was essential to ensure they would be ready to thrive in the heterogeneous world that awaited them upon graduation. Sequoyah’s mission, which celebrates human dignity and learning that is both active and joyful; its pedagogical intentionality, featuring mixed-age classrooms, the modular schedule, place- and project-based learning; and its special programs, including SIP, Talking Leaves, and Field Studies, all ensure that children’s learning, growth, and development are at the heart of everything the school does.

I am excited to immerse myself in all things Sequoyah. I love schools for the vibrant life that comes spilling out of classrooms, hallways, lunchrooms, and playgrounds; I look forward to theatrical and musical performances and to cheering wildly at soccer games. That is why, in whatever administrative position I’ve occupied, I have always found ways to stay formally engaged with students – as an advisor, for example, or, more recently, as an “Environment Team” member at the Northwest School here in Seattle. I don’t know yet what this engagement will look like at Sequoyah, but look forward to being an active, visible presence on both campuses.

In fact, as I reflect on Sequoyah’s Habits of Mind, it seems to me that stewardship may be the most crucial of the eight for an Interim Head of School to possess and model; specifically, during a time of significant change and transition, and despite the myriad projects that demand a head’s attention in any school, “[Taking] care of people, [taking] care of things, [taking] care of the environment, and [seeking] to make the community a better place for all” ought to come first. I’ll strive to embody that habit every day and work alongside all of you to help shepherd the school through the transition from Josh Brody’s long, successful headship to his permanent successor’s.

I look forward to meeting many of you in early December when I visit Sequoyah and try to absorb as much as I possibly can from Josh before his departure for Australia. In the meantime, I will do my best from Seattle to stay current with developments on campus in order to be able to hit the ground running in January.

Best wishes,
Mike McGill

Announcement Letters

To learn more about Sequoyah’s Head of School change, read the letters from Josh and from Board President Michael Barak and Incoming Board President Laura Gowen.
Thanks to all faculty and staff, alumni, parents, students, and trustees who participated in the Head of School (HoS) Search survey, forums, and meetings. Your thoughts and input have been instrumental in crafting our HoS Profile which emphasizes the qualities specific to Sequoyah’s mission, values, and objectives that we are looking for in our next leader.
 
The HoS Profile (or Position Statement) will promote and communicate this leadership opportunity worldwide. We are optimistic that there will be many highly qualified and diverse candidates interested in this position.
Scroll down to learn more. Find answers to FAQs.

After a long-time Head of School leaves, it is good practice to hire an Interim Head. The Interim HoS will serve as a bridge between Josh and the next Head of School.

In addition, since Josh is leaving mid-year, it would not be easy to find a permanent HoS so soon. This plan will allow time for the Search Committee to search thoughtfully and meaningfully for the best HoS candidate from within the greatest potential pool of candidates.

Learn more in the FAQs below.
Search & Hiring Process & Timeline
  • The field of candidates for Interim Head has been narrowed to three.
  • These three candidates have interviewed with the Search Committee and with representative faculty, staff, and Josh.
  • The candidates’ experience, writings, and references were evaluated for the best fit for Sequoyah’s culture, mission, and values.
  • The Committee has now recommended that candidate to the full Board of Trustees for approval.
  • The chosen Interim Head will be announced to the Sequoyah Community and featured on this page.

Why is Josh leaving?

After more than 18 years of service to Sequoyah School, Josh has accepted a position to lead a PK-12 International Baccalaureate World School in Melbourne, Australia. Prior to leading Sequoyah as our head of school, Josh’s professional experience was steeped in international education. The opportunity to work and live abroad again has opened the door to a new chapter and he is eager to contribute to the growth of another progressive school community. Josh’s contributions to the development of Sequoyah School in the past two decades are innumerable and he will be deeply missed.

FAQs

The Head of School search process will be managed jointly by Sequoyah School’s Board of Trustees and a consultant group that specializes in searches specific to independent school leadership.

The School has engaged the services of Resource Group 175, an internationally recognized search firm specializing in independent schools, to guide us through this process. The RG175 team will be led by Coreen Hester, a former head of school, who brings extensive experience in searches at independent schools, a deep background in school headship, a vibrant professional network, and broad access to competitive, compelling, and diverse candidates.

Also, the Board of Trustees has appointed a Search Committee to guide and oversee a process that is collaborative and comprehensive. The Committee members are:

  • Michael Barak, Committee Co-Chair, and Former Board President (past parent)
  • Renee Dake Wilson, Committee Co-Chair (parent)
  • Laura Gowen, Board President (parent)
  • Ann Liashkov, Trustee (staff)
  • Carolina Valle, Trustee (alumna)
  • DuVon Davis, Trustee (parent)
  • Joyce Ybarra, Trustee (parent)
  • Luis Livingston-Gomez, Trustee (parent)
  • Rachel Countryman, Trustee (community member)

The Board’s highest priority is to find the right person to lead Sequoyah School, regardless of timeline. That said, a Head of School search typically takes 9 to 12 months. We launched Sequoyah’s HoS search in June 2021. We have two stages – hiring an interim head since Josh is departing mid-year and appointing a permanent head of school to begin in the 2023-2024 school year.

Mike McGill has been hired as the Interim Head of School and will assume the role on January 1, 2022. He will visit Sequoyah in early December to begin his immersion in the community and culture while transitioning with Josh before he leaves for Australia.

Below is the estimated timeline for hiring the permanent head of school, but it is a process that must be flexible and may change as we move forward.

July: HoS Profile is posted.

August – October: Candidates apply

October 15: Application deadline

November – December: Quiet phase while the Search Committee reviews applications and interviews the top candidates in several rounds to select three finalists

Winter Break: Transition from Head of School Josh Brody to Interim Head of School Mike McGill

January 11-13, 18-20, and 25-27: Three final candidates for the permanent Head of School position visit campus over successive weeks to meet and be interviewed by the entire community in a variety of events.

February: Search Committee deliberates selection of the next Head of School based on feedback from all constituencies; makes a recommendation to the Board of Trustees

February – March: The next Head of School will be announced once all logistical hurdles are cleared.

The Board’s highest priority is to find the right person to lead Sequoyah School, regardless of timeline. That said, a Head of School search typically takes 9 to 12 months. We launched Sequoyah’s HoS search in June 2021. We have two stages – hiring an interim head since Josh is departing mid-year and appointing a permanent head of school to begin in the 2023-2024 school year.

Mike McGill has been hired as the Interim Head of School and will assume the role on January 1, 2022. He will visit Sequoyah in early December to begin his immersion in the community and culture while transitioning with Josh before he leaves for Australia.

The responsibility for hiring a new HoS lies with Sequoyah School’s Board of Trustees. The process of identifying a new HoS began in the early summer when the board assembled the Head of School Search Committee and hired RG175, who has developed an HoS Profile that will inform the candidate recruiting and assessment process.

The HoS Profile was developed by the Search Committee and RG175, with input from teachers, staff, parents, alumni, students, and trustees. It is a position statement that emphasizes the most important qualities specific to Sequoyah that we are looking for in our next leader which aligns with our mission, values, and objectives. This Profile will promote and communicate this leadership opportunity worldwide with the goal of attracting highly qualified and diverse candidates.

The search for a head of school is a confidential process until we get to the finalist stage. By having a confidential search process at the outset, we will be able to better attract strong candidates who wouldn’t apply if news of their interest might leak to their current school. The Search Committee is also committed to having a transparent process and having both can be challenging at times. After the Profile is posted, there will be a quiet period when recruitment is active, resumes are vetted, and candidates are interviewed. The Search Committee will narrow down the long list of candidates to three finalists and then the confidential process will open to the full community. As this open phase nears, the Search Committee will provide specifics about how and when everyone will be involved. Even though we will now be entering this quiet phase, we will keep you abreast on the overall search process throughout.

The primary responsibility of the head of an independent school is to carry out the school’s stated mission in alignment with its values. The head is responsible for creating a strategy to achieve the school’s goals and manage the day-to-day operations and staff. Key aspects of the job include:

  1. Works in partnership with the board of trustees to establish and refine the school’s mission; articulates the mission to all constituencies — students, faculty and staff, parents, alumni/ae, and the community; and supports the mission in working with all constituencies.
  2. Oversees the shaping of the school’s program and the quality of life in the school community.
  3. Manages the school in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
  4. Establishes an effective manner of leadership and appropriately involves members of the administration and faculty in decision making.
  5. Responsible for attracting, retaining, developing, and evaluating qualified faculty and staff.
  6. Accessible, within reason, and communicates effectively with all constituencies.
  7. Responsible for financial management, maintenance of the physical plant, strategic planning, and fundraising.
  8. Ensures that every element of school life reflects the principles of equity, justice, and the dignity of each individual.
  9. Alert to his or her role within the broader networks of schools, school leaders, and the community.

Works to ensure that the principles of good practice of all school operations, especially those of admission, marketing, faculty recruitment, and fundraising, demonstrate integrity at all levels of the school.

In May and June, members of the Sequoyah community were invited to participate in Zoom and in-person meetings to provide confidential input and feedback to Coreen Hester of RG175. These conversations focused on the strengths and challenges of the school, and the critical skills, qualities, and experience needed for our next leader.

Additionally, to ensure every voice in the Sequoyah Community could be heard, a confidential online survey was sent to employees, parents, high school students, alumni, trustees, and past parents to collect their perspectives about school priorities and candidate qualities.

For the permanent head of school, once the three finalists are chosen and the confidential process ends, the full community will participate in vetting the finalists. As this open phase nears, the Search Committee will provide specifics about how and when everyone will be involved.

The work of the Head search will be conducted by the Search Committee and our consultants, RG175. Sequoyah’s faculty, staff, and administration will remain focused on providing students with the interactive, hands-on/minds-on academic experience that is the hallmark of a Sequoyah School education.

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