Head of School Search
St. Andrew's Episcopal School
As this school year closes, I am reflecting on how great of a year it has been for our students. What they get to experience at St. Andrew’s is truly a blessing. Over this past couple of weeks, not only did we celebrate the graduation of our 8th grade class, we also welcomed our high school graduates to campus, enjoyed the Kindergarten Red Carpet, PreK Transportation Parade, 2nd Grade Celebrate Me, Intermediate Trip to Wonderland, and so much more. To see the tangible impact of a St. Andrew’s education, what the totality of the experience does for our graduates and alumni, elicits a great deal of pride in our community.
Throughout my own education and professional life in schools, I have been blessed with being surrounded by the gravitas of legendary schools and the educators that built them. From the Catholic schools of my youth and university days, to the Episcopal schools of my teaching, coaching, and leadership days, Christ-centric learning environments have shaped all aspects of my life and discipline of thought.
Through those 39 years, I’ve learned the value of discernment, of being reflective in action, of striving to be available for God’s Grace. This past couple of years have provided opportunity for all of this and more. And, as a result of that prayer, I write today to share the news of my decision to transition to a new leadership opportunity for the start of the 2023-2024 school year.
The decision indeed comes after much prayer and in partnership with the Board of Trustees. This coming school year will be my last at St. Andrew’s. Making this decision now provides the Board of Trustees and the entire school community with an opportunity to engage in an open and thorough process to identify the School’s next leader.
The past two years have been extraordinary years for all of us in education – students, parents, faculty and trustees. It has taken heroic ambition from all of us to navigate the roughest of the pandemic days. We have not been deterred by the noise of external pressures. And, in doing so, we’ve safeguarded our uniquely Christian world-view and brand of education. It is one marked by a steadfast commitment to academic and overall programmatic excellence, a sense of belonging, worship, religious formation, and service to others.
Much has been accomplished during our time together. Your Board of Trustees, Leadership Team, and Faculty/Staff have partnered to achieve significant gains. Kudos to each of you…because it took all of us to get it done. Of particular note, though, we can be exceedingly proud of the excellence our faculty have demonstrated daily. I continue to be honored to walk alongside these uniquely talented, and dare I say, legendary individuals. More importantly, all of us are graced by their goodness.
We have important work to do together over the next year. Beyond programming, curriculum, and the day to day matters that go into a school year, I pray we speak truth in a compassionate manner with each other and all who enter St. Andrew’s. Our children deserve to be surrounded by the beauty found in God’s message and His presence in all of those around us. At St. Andrew’s, they are.
It’s not a time for good-byes. It’s a time of preparation. Before then, though, let’s dive into the many summer adventures ahead of us.
Blessings to each of you, always,
Head of School
From the Board of Trustees
A few days ago, Joel Bicknell shared with the me his decision to leave St. Andrew’s at the end of the 2022-2023 School Year. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Joel for his many contributions to the School over the last five years. We have been blessed by Joel’s leadership during unusual and challenging times. Joel’s dedication to, and enthusiasm for, the mission of our School has been greatly appreciated and valued. We look forward to his continued leadership through June 2023, ensuring a smooth transition to our next Head of School. Please know that the Board of Trustees intends to continue the forward momentum that Joel has created at the School.
We are excited for the upcoming school year, and with Joel’s continuing leadership and vision, we believe that 2022-2023 will be the school’s best year yet. We have many exciting things planned:
- the reintroduction of a stand-alone music program for K-8th grade students
- a partnership with Snapology to provide Engineering and Robotics programing for K-5th
- the addition of 2 experienced world language teachers
- the introduction of an F1 in Schools program
- a new Fabrication and Digital Design Lab
We are confident that Joel, his faculty and staff have positioned the St. Andrew’s well for this next chapter in the life of our school.
After Joel shared his decision, we began the process of interviewing and selecting a search firm to identify potential Head of School candidates. The Board of Directors who have the responsibility of hiring and supporting the head of school have contracted with The Education Group to help in the process of identifying and hiring a new Head. These consultants have extensive experience working with independent schools, as well as many years of consulting experience and broad familiarity with the independent school culture in Texas.
I greatly appreciate your support of the St. Andrews Episcopal School and your patience and understanding through this process.
In the coming weeks I will be reaching out to let you know how the process is going and give you more information on our plan for the search. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions regarding this transition.
Board of Trustees President
- Michele Agostini (Chair, Search Committee)
Current Member Board of Trustees-Vice President, Past President of the Parents’ Auxiliary/PTA, Parent of Alumni
- Andrew Bivins (Member, ex officio)
Current Board of Trustees-President, Current Parent, Alumnus
- Edie Carter (member)
Current Grandparent, Past Board Member-Secretary, Parent of Alumni
- Ralph Ellis (member)
Past Member Board of Trustees-President, Past Member Legacy Capital Campaign Steering Committee, Parent of Alumni
- Rev. Jared Houze (Member, ex officio)
Current Member Board of Trustees; Rector-St Andrew’s Episcopal Church
- Sharla Valdez (member)
Past Member Board of Trustees-President, Past President of the Parents’ Auxiliary/PTA, Parent of Alumni
- Jentry Wiliams (Member)
Current Member Board of Trustees, Current Parent
Interested candidates should provide a résumé, cover letter highlighting their interest in and fit for the position, a statement of educational philosophy, and a list of five (5) professional references with contact information, as a single PDF attachment. After an initial review of applicants, the Search Committee will interview semifinalist candidates. Shortly thereafter, finalists will visit St. Andrew’s Episcopal School for a more comprehensive series of interviews with representatives of the School’s constituencies. The School and Position Profile will be shared soon.
To express interest in this position, please contact the consultants listed below.
As a former college dean and professor, a think tank president, and an independent school headmaster, Dr. Cooper combines broad academic knowledge with practical leadership experience in faith-based and secular institutions.
Dr. Cooper served for 23 years as Headmaster and teacher in three premier independent schools (including K-12 and 6-12 schools): TMI (Texas Military Institute)—The Episcopal School of Texas in San Antonio, Elgin Academy in greater Chicago, and Wichita Collegiate School in Kansas. For the past five years he has been an active consultant for independent schools.
After earning a B.A. and M.A. in Religion from Florida State University, he earned his Ph.D. in Religion from Syracuse University. His academic career included extensive teaching, research and writing in universities, think tanks, and college-preparatory high schools. Highlights:
- author, editor, or publisher of five books; author of numerous scholarly essays
- research assistant to Catholic theologian and U.S. Ambassador (U.N Commission on Human Rights) Michael Novak at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (DC)
- professor of philosophy and religion and academic dean at Bridgewater College (VA)
- president of the James Madison Institute for Public Policy Studies (FL)
- adjunct professor, James Madison University (VA) and Wichita State University (KS)
- teaching specialties include theology, world religions, ethics, political philosophy
Dr. Cooper lives with his wife, Joan, in Fort Worth, Texas. He is actively involved in teaching and dialogue about theology, inter-faith understanding, and public affairs in a variety of groups (Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, secular, and others).
He enjoys camping, biking, playing guitar, attending bluegrass festivals, and, most of all, playing with his grandchildren.
Vicki Raney brings over 45 years of experience in the field of education to her work as a search consultant with The Education Group. With experience in both public and independent schools, a B.S. in elementary education, a M.A. in counseling, and national certification in school leadership, Vicki brings a deep understanding of the educational arena in today’s world, along with a dedication to independent school education.
Vicki retired in 2020 after serving for 16 years as the Assistant Head at The Lamplighter School in Dallas. She was known for a leadership style where respect and collaboration are woven into the fabric of each relationship. Vicki has recruited, hired, and mentored hundreds of teachers for independent schools, and enjoys coaching educators who aspire to join the world of school administration. “Her powerful mentorship and guidance have had a profound impact on the careers and professional development of educators.”
Her resume includes classroom teaching at Columbus Academy in Ohio, and division leadership at Saint Mary’s Hall and The John Cooper School in Texas. Prior to her roles with independent schools, Vicki was a classroom teacher in the Groveport Madison school district in Columbus, where she was awarded Ohio Counselor of the Year for her work as a school counselor. Additionally, Vicki has served an educational consultant for New Horizons in Ohio and EMG Networks in Arizona.
Through the years, Vicki has represented her schools on the national stage, sharing a variety of projects, collaborations, and partnerships. She delivered presentations for the National Association of Independent Schools, Educational Records Bureau, National Elementary School Principals Association, American Association of Counseling and Development, and Independent School Association of the Southwest.
Vicki is a former Board member of Head Start of Greater Dallas and served as a school volunteer with the United 2 Learn partnership between public and independent schools in Dallas before moving to San Antonio. Vicki has two sons who are graduates of independent schools and her granddaughter currently attends an independent school.
The formal process of our Head of School search begins with the publication of letters from both Head of School and Board Chair, announcing the current head’s upcoming departure, recapping his accomplishments, noting the current strength of the school, and providing a short statement about the search process already underway. These letters are sent to the St. Andrew’s Episcopal School (SAES) community, sister schools, and accrediting organizations. They are posted on the SAES website. Additional communications contain information about the Search Committee and the search process. Finally, all communications are emailed to the community and placed on the school’s website within a special tab for the Head of School search.
As our current head moves on, we wish him all the best and we anticipate a high-level of interest in this search within the school community and in the broader independent school community. The marketing department will work with local newspapers and other media outlets to provide timely news about the transition, the Head of School search, and eventually, a new Head of School, with accompanying feature articles.
Communications will flow both ways, providing members of the school community with opportunities to share their views with the consultants and the Search Committee. Faculty, staff, parents, alumni, former trustees, donors, and school friends will receive regular updates throughout the process. In addition, early in the process, our consultants will interview the Board of Trustees, school leadership, faculty, parents, and students, and provide an online survey for their input. Towards the end of the search, the Board, school leadership, faculty, parents, and students will have opportunities to interview each finalist and share their thoughts on each candidate through an online finalist evaluation survey containing areas for comments.
Our consultants will first post a brief ad and, later, a thorough position profile on various job-posting and career websites, and in professional publications (NAIS, ISAS, Cognia, SAIS, ISACS, regional school associations, universities, the EDI Blue Sheet, etc.). In addition, our consultants will utilize their extensive list of contacts to personally share the opening with professional connections and known or targeted candidates.
The Search Committee is committed to a thorough, transparent, and inclusive process for the SAES community. An initial survey will be conducted (in August) for faculty, parents, students, etc. The survey provides essential information that will allow the Board to set goals and priorities for the next Head of School
In addition to the survey and conversations with our consultants, the Search Committee will be actively engaged throughout the search. When finalists are identified and visit the campus, members of the school community will be invited to meet the candidates and provide feedback on their impressions of each finalist.
No. SAES, our faculty, staff, and administrative team are committed to our mission: “To love and understand children; to be a Christian community dedicated to the Episcopal traditions of education.” Our commitments remain and we are dedicated to further realizing our ideals.
The SAES Board discussed utilizing a search firm to assist us in this process and chose The Education Group (TEG), a consultancy with 38 years of experience in Head of School searches. The Board is excited to be working with such a highly regarded firm and with our search consultants, Dr. John Cooper and Ms. Vicki Raney. John and Vicki will guide the Search Committee through the search process, focusing on the specific needs of our community and offering guidance based on best practices. TEG will also help develop a position profile with a description of the qualities sought in the candidate. The consultants will recruit and assess candidates, assist the Search Committee throughout the process, and continue to work with the school throughout the next Head of School’s first year of leadership.
The Search Committee and our consultants are tasked with directing the Head of School search process from start to finish and throughout the leadership transition. The members of the Committee were chosen as individuals who will have the long-term, best interests of the entire school in mind as they prayerfully discern God’s plan for our school’s next leader. The Committee will coordinate input from our school’s various constituencies, work with our consultants to develop the position profile, and review the first round of candidates. The committee will then conduct interviews with the semifinalist and finalist candidates. At the end of the process, the Committee will present the individual whom they believe is the best candidate for the position. The Board will then be charged with the final decision. Another primary function of the Search Committee is to keep our community informed and engaged throughout the process, while balancing the importance of confidentiality.
Questions about the search process can be directed to the Search Committee Chair, Michele Agostini at: firstname.lastname@example.orgThe search consultants at The Education Group welcome such suggestions for potential candidates.