Head Of School Search

11/7/21

To the Helios Community: 

It is with great excite­ment that we announce the appoint­ment of Benedict (Ben) Chant as Helios’s next Head of School effec­tive July 1, 2022.

 

At the core of our search was finding a leader who under­stands and embraces the unique mission, culture and values of Helios. We strongly believe that Ben has demon­strated this through his past roles, expe­ri­ences and, most significantly, in our time together during the search process. During his visit, many commented on how eagerly he engaged with the students and immersed himself in the dialogs and learning.  We are thrilled to welcome Ben to our community.

Ben has served schools in many capacities throughout his career. Before taking his first administrative job as a Middle School Head at St. Bernard’s School in New York, Ben taught second, fifth, and sixth grades. He served as Lower School Head at Berkeley Carroll School and The Mandell School and as Assistant Head of School at Friends Seminary of New York. Most recently, he was Head of School at Poughkeepsie Day School. Ben possesses extensive independent school leadership experience and a long-standing commitment to progressive education.

Ben believes in building a strong community by fostering relationships and connection internally as well as enhancing networks and relationships with external parties. At the Poughkeepsie Day School (PDS), he worked in partnership with the board, faculty and staff, parents, and students to revitalize the farm/outdoor education program that enriched the student and faculty experience. He created interest circles to connect families around common interests such as the arts, service, and the environment. He developed connections to the local community to strengthen admissions, and he engaged a network of progressive educators to share professional development and resources. Former colleagues describe Ben’s leadership in glowing terms: “approachable”, “authentic”, “engaging and an excellent strategic thinker”. A former supervisor noted that Ben “hired brilliantly, worked well with faculty, developed excellent relationships with the students, teachers, and parents, and worked collaboratively with the teachers to strengthen the curriculum.”

We are grateful to the Search Committee, composed of Trustees, Faculty Members and Parents, who partnered closely with Karen Whitaker and Jennifer Christensen of Carney Sandoe & Associates. The committee worked thoughtfully and collaboratively and went through an extensive process to screen and assess the candidates using the information and values the Helios community expressed as we launched the search. Additionally, we are grateful to the entire Helios community for contributing your time, energy and thoughts throughout this process as they enabled the candidates to authentically experience how special Helios is. 

We look forward to welcoming Ben and his family to Helios. Ben is enthusiastic about connecting with members of the Helios community both on and off-campus as he moves into his role and we are working together to arrange for him to visit Helios again before he formally assumes his duties in July.
We also want to thank Pam for her unwavering support through the search process and as we move into transition. Over the coming months we will have time to fully celebrate and thank Pam for her leadership and extraordinary contributions as our Interim Head of School.

Please join us in congratulating and welcoming Ben to Helios!
Jing Tian
Chair of the Board of Trustees
 

9/7/21

Dear Helios Community,
 
At the end of August, the Search Committee enjoyed interviewing our semi-finalist candidates for the Head of School position. Across the board, we found them to be an exceptional group of educators, and we have selected three compelling candidates as finalists.

We are planning two-day visits for each finalist: September 23-24, September 30-October 1, and October 7-9. For the privacy of our candidates, we will not share their names right away, but will share their names and a brief profile with the community a few days before each candidate’s visit.

We will share meeting times and locations shortly. We are planning opportunities for all community members to connect with the candidates, to learn about them, and to help them learn about our community. Due to COVID concerns, we will need to hold Parent Meetings virtually, but we hope to have in-person meetings—with all necessary precautions—with students, faculty, administrators, and staff. We hope you will be able to attend these meetings, and we will follow up with you via survey to ask for your thoughts and reflections. This important feedback will help inform our recommendation.

Thank you for your continued support of Helios, and best wishes for a healthy and happy new school year!
 
Sincerely,
 
Jing Tian
Chair of Search Committee

 

8/16/21

Dear Members of the Helios Community,

We hope you have had a wonderful summer and are getting ready for a new and exciting school year! We’re writing to provide an update on the Head of School search. Over the spring and summer, Jennifer Christensen and Karen Whitaker from educational recruitment firm Carney Sandoe and Associates (CS&A) conducted a national search, reaching out to many qualified educational leaders. Based on our search criteria, developed last spring with input from the community and is articulated in the position description, they conducted extensive screening and interviews, eventually providing the search committee with a pool of candidates. The committee received the candidates’ application materials early this month, and upon careful review and deliberation, we have selected six semifinalists.

This week, the Search Committee will begin to learn more about these educational leaders during the interview process. We are very excited to get to know and learn more about them in the next few weeks. At the conclusion of these interviews, we will select a small group of finalists.  

The finalists will be invited to the Helios campus to meet with the broader community. Each candidate will visit for two days, and you will have the opportunity to get to know them, share your Helios experiences with them, and ask them questions. You will also be asked to provide feedback on each candidate. We will host the finalists from mid-September to mid-October, depending on school schedule and candidate availability. Until the finalists are selected, we have promised all candidates confidentiality.

Thank you for your continued support of Helios and the search process. We’ll be in touch in a few weeks with further updates.

Sincerely,
Jing Tian, Chair of the Search Committee
 

 

4/26/21

Dear Members of Helios Community, 

Thank you so much for your participation in the conversations with Jennifer and Karen, our consultants from Carney, Sandoe and Associates (CS&A), and for sharing your perspective of Helios’s needs in the next head of school.  Over the past few weeks, CS&A have met with parents, teachers and administrators, students, and the Board to gather input from all Helios constituencies. Additionally, a school wide survey was also conducted. We greatly appreciate your engagement and thoughtful answers to the questionnaires.  

The CS&A team has reviewed and consolidated the feedback provided from these conversations and the survey and incorporated it into a position statement that will serve as the basis for the Head of School search. The position statement is intended to provide candidates a compelling summary of the Helios culture, our goals, and the key challenges the next Head of School will need to address to accomplish them., The position statement also describes the characteristics we seek in the ideal candidate for the role. 

Karen, Jennifer, and the CS&A team are sharing this document with their broad educational networks and have begun actively recruiting and speaking with potential candidates. We expect this initial outreach process to last a few months. As our consultants engage in recruiting, screening, and selecting suitable candidates for Helios, the search will seem quiet from Helio’s perspective. To respect the confidentiality of the candidates, the search committee will not receive the names of the applicants during this period, although I will check in with Jennifer and Karen regularly to monitor recruiting progress.  

The Search Committee will begin to review the candidate materials in early August, followed by selecting and interviewing an initial slate of  semifinalists.  From this group, the Search Committee will select a group of finalists for deeper vetting. We anticipate finalists will visit campus and meet with the community in September. We will share further details and provide a way for you to provide feedback once we are at that stage in the search. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to us should you have any questions, comments or concerns.

Enjoy the remainder of the school year and the summer. 

Jing Tian

Chair of Head of School Search Committee

 


 

3/17/21

Dear Members of the Helios Community, 

As we launch the search for Helios’ next head of school, we want to recognize and celebrate Pam’s leadership. Under Pam’s strong guidance, Helios continues to deliver the imaginative education that meets our children’s needs, and the school is on track despite some setbacks. With Pam at the helm this coming year, we anticipate a smooth transition to new leadership in July of 2022.

Transitions provide an opportunity to affirm our ideals and shape our future. As we search for our next head, we invite all of you to reflect on how Helios can evolve and mature to meet the unique intellectual, social and emotional needs of gifted students and families. 

We have had a great experience with the top educational search firm, Carney Sandoe, and their consultants, Karen Whitaker and Jennifer Christensen. Karen and Jennifer ran the Interim Head of School search that brought Pam to Helios, and the Board of Trustees has hired the same team to assist Helios with this important leadership transition. In the coming weeks, Karen and Jennifer will be scheduling meetings with all community members. They look forward to your input and your thoughts about Helios’ strengths and challenges and the qualities we need in our next head to continue to nourish excellence in gifted education. The schedule for these sessions will be sent out shortly, and we welcome and encourage your participation, which is invaluable as we determine the critical skills, experience, and mindset needed in our next head of school. Concurrent with the constituent conversations via Zoom, Karen and Jennifer will distribute an online survey to the community. Your participation in these conversations and the survey will provide important perspectives that will inform the search, and you will also have the opportunity to recommend potential candidates. We are eager to hear from you about your priorities, hopes, and aspirations for our next head of school. 

I am excited to lead this work on behalf of the Helios community. In keeping with the practices recommended by Carney Sandoe and in collaboration with Jason Trip, Board Chair, we have established a nine personHelios’ Head of School Search Committee that includes current parents, teachers and staff, and members of the Board of Trustees. As the Head of School is hired by and reports to the Board of Trustees, the majority of the committee is comprised of Board members, all of whom are former or current parents at Helios: Christian Dubiel, Lillie Stephens, Shawn Sears, Marco Mena, and myself.  We asked Pam to recommend two members of the faculty and are excited to include Linda Zadik and Mike Orlando on the committee. Mike and Linda have served the school with passion and dedication for several years and are committed to the long-term success of Helios. Finally, we invited current parents Jolee Crosson and Yang Chu to join the committee. Jolee and Yang’s history of volunteerism on behalf of Helios speaks to their dedication and commitment to the school. Our work together will include articulating the needs of the school, vetting candidates, acting as ambassadors of Helios, inviting you to meet finalists, and ultimately making a recommendation to the full Board of Trustees. We appreciate this team’s dedication to Helios and thank them for taking on this important work on behalf of the entire community.

We anticipate following this timeline:

We will continue to provide updates as the search progresses.

Jing Tian

Chair of Head of School Search Committee