This Search is a Big Deal

IS Families,

By now you’ve received an invite and a reminder to participate in a broad survey of ideas and perspectives to inform the Head of School search. We are very much in the crucial weeks for this process, with the position description (aka opportunity statement) posted, candidates beginning to express interest, a committee formed to shepherd the sequence, and an emerging calendar of what’s going to happen when. It all happens in a different kind of slow motion then hyper-speed then slow motion again format. And it's one of the most important things a school, and this school in particular, will ever do. Here's an insider’s view:

For starters, understand that there’s a high season for head searches—and we’re in it. Many schools on the mainland have already named their new heads for the 2023-24 academic year—getting this done way early is a sign of how seriously you tend to take yourself. There’s a routine. By January, all this shuffling will have subsided, and candidates are unlikely to be putting hats in rings, except under special circumstances. That explains me ending up here for this stint—to buy Island School a year to do this right, after I thought I was headed out to pasture at the end of a long run in Nashville.

Next, understand the importance of having the right guides and hired guns to represent us to potential candidates—and to rustle up those candidates in the first place. In the tremendously competitive landscape resulting from record numbers of jobs coming open right now, just hanging out a help wanted sign won’t do. Fortunately, and kind of miraculously, two of the hottest hotshots in the search consultant world, Doreen Oleson and Jim Scott of RG175 (that stands for Resource Group, and I think the 175 was a street address) said yes when the Board asked. You may know, and I’d say must know, that they are both kama’aina. That is as awesome as it is uncommon. For my money, it matters deeply. Look ‘em up.

Now realize that this process is a two-way road. Yes, it’s about us (really, you) determining which candidates to take seriously enough to invite to campus and ultimately to choose as The One. But it’s equally a process of those brave souls interviewing us as a potential place to make a life, professionally and in all ways. Everything we do from this day forward either helps or hinders in the process, including choosing to sit on the sidelines and just watch. I was struck by a couple things last April during our brief visit—the hula welcome from a group of seniors, and the raucous crowd at the volleyball playoff game. That drew me in.

You’ll have plenty of chances to look in on things in the weeks ahead, and something you might choose to do can make a difference in the impression that Island School makes on just the right person. If all goes to plan, by a month from now we’ll have seen a carefully culled short list of candidates start coming to campus, and by New Year we’ll know who that next head will be. Then comes the long goodbye for that person from the position they currently hold and the long hello for us in getting the welcome ready for a formal start on July 1. 

It’s a long, tough haul and one of the reasons I never wanted to switch jobs. But when it goes well, it’s really a chance to write some history. Island School has earned that chance, and you can count on me for helping at every step. This is a really easy place to love when you open yourself to the possibilities.

Happy to answer any questions you send my way,

ps- keep Nov 4 circled for Fall Fest—mahalo nui to volunteers who’ve signed up already