A Message from Jerry Ward

Dear Members of the Fenn Community,

This vibrant school year marks my twenty-fourth year at Fenn as headmaster. To observe that this almost quarter of a century has sped by for me professionally and personally is an understatement. On the other hand, a glance at the photos on my office shelves of Fenn boys whom I knew as fourth and sixth graders and who now serve as Fenn faculty members and administrators, along with a few images of a young, trim headmaster of forty-three, who even had some hair on the top of his head, reminds me pointedly that indeed time has passed while I have been immersed in the life of Fenn. Joy and fulfillment, tempered at times by challenges, small and occasionally large, are indeed what my twenty-four years and counting at Fenn have afforded me.

Serving this school, filled with its vital and promising boys, its caring and talented teachers and staff, loving and committed parents, tireless and supportive trustees, and loyal and grateful alumni and their parents, is an endlessly rewarding and fulfilling privilege and endeavor. Because my work constantly engages me with all of these supportive members of our school community, who are united in common purpose, I consider myself to be among the most fortunate of heads of schools. I could wish for nothing more from and for a school community than what the Fenn community provides. And my greatest gift and good fortune in serving Fenn is the enduring support, love, courage, and dedication of my wife Lorraine to whom I am indebted beyond words and the love, loyalty, and support of our sons John, James, and Matthew. Lorraine and our sons have generously allowed me to give my all in serving Fenn.

With all of this said, I write to inform you that after careful consideration with Lorraine and thoughtful discussion with the always supportive leaders of our Board of Trustees, I am planning to close my time at Fenn as headmaster at the conclusion of my twenty-fifth year on June 30, 2018. As one would expect, members of the Fenn Board of Trustees, as skilled and wise stewards of our school, are in the process of taking the proper steps to ensure the selection of Fenn's sixth headmaster. The board will inform and update the Fenn community as it proceeds with its succession work in the time ahead. While yet to be selected, Fenn's next headmaster will be a fortunate and, no doubt, inspired and talented school leader who will realize the singular privilege and opportunity to lead Fenn in the years ahead. The continued realization of Fenn's mission to provide boys in their elementary and middle school years with a full and rich education that will serve them well in life is a shining beacon to worthy educators, including prospective head of school candidates.

This year and next will, no doubt, pass with lightning speed as has my time to date at Fenn. There remains so much work ahead for me as headmaster that will continue to energize and inspire me daily. I remain privileged to invest myself fully with the sustaining and vital charge of serving Fenn boys and the school community in collaboration with all of you. The vision of this wonderful school for boys and the life promise of every one of those boys will continue to inspire all of us in our work together at Fenn.

With abiding gratitude,

Image

Jerry Ward

 

 

A Message from Board Chair Jim Kitendaugh

Dear Fenn Parents, Alumni, and Friends:

By now you have received the news that Fenn's beloved Headmaster Jerry Ward will be stepping down at the end of June 2018. Given the excellence, leadership, and huge commitment that Jerry has given the School over the past twenty-four years, this news is not welcome; but, given Jerry's long tenure, all of us knew that this day would come.

Jerry's contributions and importance to Fenn cannot be overstated. From the renewal of the entire Fenn campus, to the strength and dedication of the faculty, to the success of Fenn's fundraising efforts, to the spirit of Sua Sponte brilliantly lived out at Fenn every day, Jerry's hand is visible everywhere.

We have also benefitted hugely over the years from the warmth, intelligence, expertise, and commitment of Lorraine Garnett Ward. Whether teaching, counseling boys, leading faculty, or hosting hundreds of gatherings, Lorraine has been a central and beloved figure in her own right. Her departure, too, at the end of the next academic year, will take some getting used to.

That said, Jerry and Lorraine—thankfully—will remain central figures at Fenn for the next twenty months. Jerry is and will continue to be Fenn's headmaster—and fully in charge—through  June 30, 2018. And after each of us has taken a deep breath, he expects all of us to get back to work! There is much to be done over the next twenty months, including this year's AISNE re-accreditation self-study, our collective efforts to move toward the goals of Fenn's Strategic Plan, and ensuring that Fenn delivers on its mission every day, for every boy.

The responsibility of appointing Fenn's next headmaster falls to Fenn's Board of Trustees. This is an experienced, thoughtful, highly dedicated group that provides sound and intelligent leadership to Fenn throughout the year. The Board is already in the process of developing an effective plan for the transition that will permit us both to celebrate Jerry and Lorraine appropriately and to move us toward the appointment of a new headmaster. In the coming weeks we will share these plans with you. Please be assured that this process will include multiple opportunities for everyone who cares about Fenn to reaffirm Fenn's mission, values, and direction, and to offer advice regarding the transition.

Most sincerely,

 
Jim Kitendaugh, P'97, P'05
Chair, Board of Trustees

 

A MESSAGE FROM the search committee

DEAR FENN PARENTS, ALUMNI, AND FRIENDS:

As you may know, in January the Board of Trustees made the decision to fully assess any internal candidate for the Headmaster position prior to beginning a wider, external search. Over the past two months the Search Committee has been exploring the candidacy of Fenn's Associate Head of School, Derek Boonisar, through a process of an extensive written application, rigorous face-to-face interviews, and five sessions for Derek with small groups of faculty and staff, with follow-on written feedback.

At its meeting of last Friday, the Search Committee was unanimous in recommending to the Board of Trustees that Derek be advanced to the final stage of consideration—becoming, in effect, "the" finalist for the position, rather than simply "a" finalist. At its meeting of last evening, the Board of Trustees—again unanimously—accepted the recommendation of the Search Committee.

Following spring break, a number of activities are planned, including a forum open to the entire Fenn community to hear from and ask questions of Derek; further conversation with the Search Committee; due diligence such as would be conducted with any candidate; and an additional meeting of the Search Committee. Assuming that all of those steps have been completed, the Board would then consider Derek's appointment at its regularly scheduled April meeting.

The Search Committee and the Board of Trustees have been enormously impressed with Derek's preparedness to take on this responsibility, and with his candor, his experience, his personal integrity, his understanding and love of Fenn, his commitment to the education of middle school boys, and his ability to relate to every part of Fenn's constituency—students, faculty, alumni, parents and friends. While no decision has been finalized, we feel very confident in advancing his candidacy to its final phase.

Sincerely,

                                           
Jim Kitendaugh P'97, P'05                           Kevin Parke P'08, P'09, P'12
Chair, Board of Trustees                              Chair, Search Committee

Date:  3/8/2017 

 

A message from the search committee

DEAR FENN PARENTS, ALUMNI, AND FRIENDS:

When we wrote to you in early March, we outlined a series of activities around Derek Boonisar’s candidacy to be Fenn’s next Head that would take place after Fenn’s Spring Break, currently underway. These will include open sessions to hear from Derek, and additional conversations both in the Search Committee and Fenn’s full Board of Trustees.

We’re happy to let you know that we have settled on a format and a schedule for the upcoming sessions. These will be informal but facilitated sessions that will be open to all Fenn parents, alumni and friends. In each session Derek will make an opening statement regarding his candidacy, followed by an open question-and-answer period, with Derek taking questions directly from members of the group. Each session will last up to 90 minutes. The sessions are scheduled for the following dates:

  • Thursday, March 30, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, April 7, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.

While these sessions are open to all, it would be useful to know in advance how many may be attending each session, so we would appreciate your letting us know if you plan to attend. (Please use this link to RSVP)

We have been enormously impressed by the level of interest and participation in this process on the part of the Fenn community, exemplified by the nearly 300 responses to the online survey conducted in January, and the nearly 50 members of the Fenn faculty and staff who attended recent small group discussions with Derek.

Please feel free to join us for one of these two sessions.

Sincerely,

                                              
Jim Kitendaugh P'97, P'05                              Kevin Parke P'08 P'09, P'12
Chair, Board of Trustees                                 Chair, Search Committee

Date: 3/22/2017

 

The website will be updated periodically with information about the headmaster search.
Last updated: March 22, 2017 

 

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