Dear Villa Academy Families and Friends,
The Board of Trustees and I are delighted to announce Villa’s next Head of School, John Milroy. John will become Head of School on July 1, 2011. There will be opportunities for the Villa community to get to know him better before July. Also, we are pleased to share that Jody Elsner, who is serving as Interim Head of School this year, plans to return to her role as Lower School Director next school year.
John’s selection is the product of many months of thoughtful review by our entire community — students, parents, faculty, staff, the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees. We want to thank each and every one of you for the dedication you’ve shown to the school and your passion for its strong future.
Before we share some additional information about John, it is important to reflect on how the Board of Trustees approached the search and the vision established in our Strategic Plan.
We are excited about Villa’s future. It is a future filled with opportunity. The Strategic Plan, completed last spring, affirmed Villa’s academic strengths and welcoming culture. It dedicated us to the education of the whole child, guided by the Catholic, Cabrinian tradition. It challenged us to transition Villa from one of Seattle’s best kept secrets in the realm of preschool to eighth grade education to an institution that is known and admired for academic excellence and whole-child education throughout the city and the region.
As we journeyed through the search process, chief among our goals was to find a leader who would take Villa to a new plateau by building upon the strength and quality of Villa’s academic and instructional programs and celebrating those programs beyond our walls. The Board of Trustees recognized to achieve the goals laid out in the Strategic Plan, Villa would need a core set of qualities in a new Head of School including: inspirational and visionary leadership, commitment to academic excellence, financial sophistication and development experience.
We are pleased to have found these qualities in John Milroy. John brings a wealth of experience to Villa. During his tenure as headmaster of Marmion Academy, John has enriched the school’s academic program and expanded Marmion Academy’s regional profile and alumni support. Marmion is a leading Catholic boys preparatory school, in the Chicago area.
John brings a vision and style of leadership that will complement Villa’s existing staff and faculty, while building strong awareness of Villa within the Seattle area. He has dedicated his career to academic achievement and greatly respects the stellar academic excellence and values-based education Villa and its faculty and staff offer. Further, John possesses the financial and institutional development experience needed to ensure that Villa continues to deliver an exceptional educational and whole-child experience while navigating the changing education and economic environment.
The selection process was extensive and involved all groups within the Villa community. The Board of Trustees established a Search Committee in May, 2010. The eight-person committee was chaired by Matt McIlwain, seven-year board member and 11-year parent; and included Liz Swift, past Villa Trustee and parent, Holy Names Head of School; Matt Barmore, outgoing Villa Trustee, Seattle Prep Principal; Robert Downey, Villa 2nd grade teacher; Kristen Piedra, Villa Trustee and parent; Mary Petersen, incoming Villa Trustee, parent, and Seattle University education administrator; Lendy Vail, Vice President, Villa Parent Association and parent; and Mike Metzger, former Villa Trustee, former Villa capital campaign chair, and alumni parent. The committee was advised by Terry Macaluso, PhD, search consultant, Eastside Prep Head of School, and experienced non-profit trustee.
In spring 2010, the Search Committee, in collaboration with the broader community and the Board, specified the criteria to be used to identify qualified candidates, and articulated the challenges and opportunities Villa will encounter.
The Search Committee received 38 applications for the head of school position. That group was narrowed to 15 and then eight who were invited to participate in a semi-finalist process in October. Three candidates emerged as finalists and completed two-day visits to interact with all Villa constituencies on campus. Survey information was gathered from all groups and combined with the notes and observations of the Search Committee and the Board.
Each of our three finalists was highly qualified and each would serve Villa well. To each we owe a debt of gratitude for engaging in the interview process and allowing us to understand his or her vision for guiding Villa.
I wish to express particular gratitude to Jody Elsner. Serving as Interim Head of School is highly demanding. She is performing with her unswervingly high level of professionalism and commitment to Villa. On top of this, she was a candidate for the Head of School position – a candidacy that was thoroughly competitive and made the decision all the more difficult.
It is important to note that Jody’s work as Interim Head of School will continue until June 30th, 2011. She will maintain the momentum she has built and keep Villa focused on a strong and successful school year.
Our community is nothing if not engaged. We wanted to share this exciting information as soon as possible; hence this letter, but we’d also like to have a discussion and answer your questions. We have scheduled two opportunities for you to meet with members of the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees. These meetings will take place:
· Friday, December 10, 8:45 a.m., in the Parlor
· Monday, December 13, 7:00 p.m., in the Parlor
If these times do not work for you, please feel free to contact me so we can arrange a time to talk by phone.
Thank you for your support of Villa
Change is as exhilarating as it is challenging. Villa is successful because you, our parents, faculty, staff, students and extended family, make it so. Our future is very bright. We are ready to take Villa to a higher plateau. Let’s go!
Sr. Ann Cornelia Sullivan , SNJM
Board of Trustees