Head of School


Mrs. Kate Conway, a teacher and independent school administrator for over 20 years, assumed the role of Head of School on July 1, 2020. Kate previously served as the Assistant Head of School at, what was then known as, the International School of the Peninsula, in Palo Alto, California.
The eight-member Head of School Search Committee, appointed by the Board of Directors, conducted a national search and a comprehensive interview process, selecting Kate from a pool of fifty-four applicants from twenty states and six countries. The process included the development of a Position Description for the next Head of Island School which identified key attributes including leadership with a track record of success in a number of professional areas, a focus on high expectations, strong communication skills, the ability to inspire trust and a commitment to be involved in all aspects of the school and Kaua'i community. The process also provided opportunities for input from all stakeholders at the finalist level and included extensive reference and background checking.
Kate comes from a family of educators; her father was a long-time independent boarding school teacher and leader, her mother a teacher and therapist, and many other family members teachers of various ages and subjects. Kate had been the Assistant Head of School at the International School of the Peninsula (ISTP) in Palo Alto, California since 2007. ISTP is a coeducational day school for 560 students in grades PS-8 on two campuses; a bilingual immersion school—Mandarin and French—and an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. Kate has also served as ISTP’s Elementary School Principal (2007-2013) and the Early Years Principal (2017-2018). She recently engaged in extensive research on high schools in leading the design of a new high school division at ISTP. As a manager of ISTP’s daily operations, she had oversight of academic programs and personnel, and she served on many Board committees attending all trustee meetings. Prior to ISTP, Kate was a teacher in lower, middle, and upper schools at The Calhoun School in New York, Lycée International de St. Germaine en Laye in France, ISTP, and a Summer Program intern at the Hill School in Pennsylvania.
Kate was drawn to Island School because of its commitment to college-preparatory education on Kaua'i, its diverse student body, and its dedicated school community made up of faculty, staff, parents, alumni, board members, and volunteers.
Kate commented, “I am both honored and humbled to accept Island School’s invitation to become the next Head of School. From the first conversation that I shared with the Search Committee to my recent visit to the campus, I knew that Island School was a special place steeped in a tradition of excellence in education.  Meeting and talking with faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, and board members further confirmed those feelings and evidenced the passion and connection of all constituents.  My family and I look forward and are excited to be a part of Island School and the community.”
Speaking of Kate’s appointment, Board of Directors’ President Kathy Richardson said, "I am thrilled to have Kate join our Island School 'ohana. Her educational background will continue to enhance and strengthen Island School's already strong academic programs and provide our students with a top-notch education."
Former Head of School, Shannon Graves also voiced his support saying, “The board and search committee have worked diligently and done outstanding work performing a comprehensive search for the next Head of School. I join the faculty, staff, students, and board members in welcoming Kate and her family to the Island School community. Exciting days lie ahead as Island School embarks on a new era with Kate’s experience in private school education, I am pleased with the selection and wish Kate and Island School every success.”
Kate Conway received her Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. She received a Master of Arts degree in Private School Leadership and a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership Studies both from the Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, at Columbia University in New York, New York.
Kate and her husband Gavin have two daughters, Ellen and Aine who attend Island School. Kate and her family are drawn to the unique culture and the Kauai lifestyle which are closely aligned with their family values.
Island School is an independent college preparatory school founded in 1977 and located on 38 acres in Puhi with an enrollment of 424 students from all parts of Kauai.  Island School has students in grades pre-kindergarten through grade 12 and is accredited by the Western Association of Colleges and Schools, Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.  For more information visit www.ischool.org.

Head Search - February 14th, 2020 - Update


I am writing with another update on the search for Island School’s next Head of School.  The Search Committee met after the application period ended and reviewed over 50 applicants for the position.  I am pleased to inform you that 11 candidates have accepted our invitation to participate in video interviews next weekend. 

The committee will be narrowing this group to a few finalist candidates who will travel to Island School for campus visits in coming weeks.  During the campus visits we will invite faculty, staff, parents and other important supporters to play an important role: meeting the candidates, asking questions of the finalists, and giving feedback to the committee. Your impressions will be welcomed as the search committee deliberates on which candidate to recommend to the Board of Directors.

Please visit ischool.org and click on the HEAD SEARCH tab near the top right to continue monitoring the process. You can also send messages to the committee by emailing headsearch@ischool.org.  Mahalo once again for your support and participation during this transition.

Head Search - February 7th, 2020 Update


I am writing with an update on the search for Island School’s next Head of School. A search committee has been formed and is comprised of eight members of our Island School community (see members listed below). The job of the search committee will be to oversee a transparent, inclusive process while strictly respecting applicant confidentiality, and evaluating candidates against criteria benefitting the entire Island School community to assure a successful selection of our next leader. The Head of School search process will last into the Spring of 2020.

The position opportunity was advertised in January on several local and national levels and I’m pleased to announce we have received numerous applications thus far.  The application period ended today at 6pm HST.  The search committee will meet soon to carefully screen all applicants with the goal of selecting a group of semi-finalists for video interviews. The committee will further screen and narrow this group to select finalist candidates who will travel to Island School for campus visits, during which we will look to faculty, staff, parents and other important supporters to play an important role: meeting the candidates, asking questions of the finalists, and giving feedback to the committee. Your impressions will be critical as the search committee deliberates on which candidate to recommend to the Board of Directors.

The new Head of School will officially take the helm on July 1, 2020. As the process moves forward, we will continue to provide you updates. You may also visit ischool.org and click on the HEAD SEARCH tab near the top right to learn more. In the meantime, Mahalo for your support and participation during this critical transition.
Joe Corbo (Faculty)

Laura Cushnie (Board; Past Parent)

Renato DeSouza (Parent; Athletic Coach)

Christine Ing (Board; Parent)

Sam Pratt, Committee Chair (Board; Parent; Athletic Coach)

Dave Reynolds (Faculty; English Department Head)

Kathy Richardson (Board; Past Parent)

Joan Shaw (Past Employee; Past Parent; Grandparent)
Head Search - December Update

Letter from Board President, Kathy Richardson

As you recently learned, Head of School Shannon Graves has announced his intent to step down at the end of this school year and will be relocating to pursue other opportunities. On behalf of the Board of Directors and the entire Island School community, we wish to express our gratitude for Shannon’s time with us and to wish he and his family well on his new endeavor! 
The board met on Monday, December 16th and is in the process of organizing a search committee to clearly define the position opportunity for potential candidates to consider. While the board recognizes that any change in leadership can be challenging, ensuring that the school has the necessary leadership in place to achieve its future goals and aspirations is the most important responsibility we hold. We ask for your understanding and trust as we move forward during this transition period. We recognize and value the critical work our faculty and staff does every day to educate and care for students and to ensure the smooth operation of our school, and we realize families do have a choice when they select to join our Island School community. 
Looking ahead, we will build upon a wonderful foundation developed under Shannon’s leadership at Island School. We are ranked as one of the top private schools in Hawaii. We are known for our academic rigor, SAT scores are ranked third in the state and athletics are gaining KIF and State recognition. Shannon has been instrumental in crafting a new Strategic Plan with mission and vision statements. He also played a critical role in helping Island School achieve an agreement with Kamehameha Schools which will result in a more diverse and culturally rich school environment. In the upcoming months, Shannon and the Board will work closely to ensure that key initiatives at Island School do not lose momentum. 
I look forward to sharing more information about the Head of School search during the coming months and especially in sharing ways that all parts of the school community will be involved in identifying our next leader. 
In closing, thank you for your support of Island School and for your commitment to the mission: Educating the mind, inspiring the heart. Preparing Kauai’s youth to lead lives of Significance
Kathy Richardson 
Island School Board President