The Hartsbrook School

Blog Archives — August 2017

Governance Changes ~ New Roles ~ Pedagogical Chair and Administrative Chair

Dear Parents and Members of the Hartsbrook Community,

We are writing to let you know about important changes in the school’s leadership effective this September.

Over the past two years, the school has been engaged in a process of strategic renewal, which resulted in the formation of the Governance Task Force mandated to examine the school’s existing structure and organizational practices and to propose changes that would best serve the next stage of our school’s growth. Since the school’s inception in 1981, Hartsbrook has evolved from a fledgling institution with one teacher and a handful of kindergarteners to a fully accredited Waldorf school serving students from infancy through 12th grade.  It became evident that it was time to advance the school’s governing practices in order to best meet the needs of our students and families in this dynamic 21st century while maintaining the principles and community values of Hartsbrook’s founding.

After a year’s research, the Task Force proposed transitioning to a dual leadership structure in which a Pedagogical Chair and an Administrative Chair provide oversight for the whole school. In June 2017, the Board of Directors and the Faculty Conference jointly approved this recommendation. The Task Force’s work this summer focused on how to best implement this new plan, and it was determined that working with existing personnel would be critical to its success, in order to capitalize on the knowledge and experience of key individuals. Therefore, we are pleased to announce that starting in September, the following leadership changes will take place:

  • Virginia McWilliam will serve as school-wide Pedagogical Chair providing leadership and guidance for our programs, teaching faculty, and pedagogical work.  Up to this point, Ms. McWilliam has served as High School Faculty Chair and has played a key role in the school’s strategic renewal efforts.
  • Frances Cameron will serve as Administrative Chair providing leadership for all non-teaching administrative functions of the school.  She has served as the school’s Operations Manager and has held a large role in the day-to-day operations of the school, finances, and planning.
  • Louise Spear, our current Faculty Chair, will take up new tasks in elementary school administration while supporting both Ms. McWilliam and Ms. Cameron as they transition into their new roles.  Her long tenure and insight will continue to inform the next stages of the school’s development.

This plan will be phased in over the course of two years, with the full implementation of our new governance structure in place by the start of the 2019-2020 school year.  This phased implementation means that the roles of Ms. McWilliam, Ms. Cameron, and their departmental support staff must be carefully defined with respect to current and new responsibilities.  We believe the following changes are the most important for you to be aware of:

  • McWilliam will continue in her role as High School department head, with a focus on student and family issues, personnel needs and pedagogical leadership. She will be supported by a newly-created executive leadership team consisting of Rosemary McNaughton, Caryn Rozgonyi-Hesse, and Cherrie Latuner. Ms. McNaughton will assume greater responsibility for high school administrative work while continuing her teaching; Ms. Rozgonyi-Hesse will take on increased support to students, parents, and faculty in educational support and college guidance; and Ms. Latuner will oversee teacher mentoring and advising activities in the high school, working in concert with Catherine Hopkins (see below), while continuing to teach. This support will allow Ms. McWilliam to continue in her most vital roles in the high school as she takes on greater responsibility for the school at large.
  •  Heather Damon will continue  the work she has been doing as the Elementary department head. In this transition, she will be supported by Louise Spear, who will further develop areas of elementary school administration, and by Catherine Hopkins, who will focus especially on mentoring elementary school and early childhood faculty and on developing school-wide teacher mentoring practices.
  • In Early Childhood, Magdalena Toran will continue as department head. We will continue to examine the scope of this rapidly growing department and make organizational adjustments as needed.
  • In operations, Ms. Cameron will continue to have general oversight responsibility as Administrative Chair.  However, buildings and grounds work will be taken up by long-time employee Ed Mann, with increased hours and responsibilities.

We believe that this new leadership model will bring greater clarity and focus to all the processes that support your child’s experience at Hartsbrook.  In the immediate future, you may not experience change in the day-to-day life of the school.  But please know that we are working hard behind the scenes to improve the school’s decision-making processes, build collaborative relationships, improve communications, and create greater transparency in our work together and with you, our valued community members.

We invite you to speak with us about this leadership transition and to share your thoughts and experiences. Ms. McWilliam, Ms. Cameron, and Ms. Spear will provide opportunities for conversation at the New Parents and Buddies Gathering on August 30th, as well as at our parent cafés during the first three days of school. They will also attend the first Family Association meeting of the school year on September 12th at 7:00 pm to discuss the transition and answer your questions.  Throughout the year, you will receive regular updates on their work. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with them if you would like to schedule a time to meet.

We ask you to join in this work by engaging with these new processes and letting us know how we are doing.

Sincerely,

Tupper Brown, Board President

Valerie Poplawski, Faculty Conference Co-Steward