Head of School Search


Paul J. Stellato, Head of School of Princeton Day School since 2008, will step down in June, 2023, at the conclusion of his 15th year as Head of School, the Board of Trustees has announced. The Board has engaged the firm of Spencer Stuart to conduct the search for the new Head of School. The Princeton Day School Search Committee will be chaired by Ashley Aitken-Davies, Princeton Day School parent and trustee. Announcement letters follow from Paul Stellato and Dr. Rebecca W. Bushnell ’70, Chair of the Board of Trustees, as well as a video and FAQs about the search process.

 

Updates from Chair of Head of School Search Committee

January 5, 2022

Dear Members of the Princeton Day School Community:

I'm writing with an update on the Head of School search process as we return from winter break and address the recent increase in Covid cases at PDS and across the country.

In light of the uncertain impact of the latest surge of the virus on our School, we have postponed the in-person community listening sessions to the week of January 24. All sessions will now be held virtually, and a schedule will be posted to the Search web page as soon as the details are finalized.

Our search consultants at Spencer Stuart will use these meetings to gather valuable input from PDS faculty, staff, parents, students and alumni. Our Spencer Stuart team is experienced at leading group listening sessions over Zoom, and the Search Committee is confident that they will successfully manage this critical stage of the search process despite the adjustments necessitated by the ongoing pandemic.

An online survey will be circulated to all members of the School community the week of January 10. Along with the listening sessions, the survey will help us insure that a diverse and comprehensive set of views are represented as we work to refine the criteria that will inform the selection of our new Head of School. All responses will be both confidential and anonymous, and will go directly to Spencer Stuart. The survey should take 15-20 minutes to complete, and the Search Committee is deeply grateful for your participation.


Please continue to check the Head of School Search web page for updates, and thank you for your help and engagement as we launch this exciting initial phase of the search.

Ashley Aitken-Davies
Chair, Head of School Search Committee

December 17, 2021

To the Princeton Day School Community:

I write to introduce myself as the Chair of the Head of School Search Committee, and to provide an overview of what to expect when we return from Winter Break. I am honored to serve the School in this capacity, and grateful to the other members of the Search Committee for sharing in this significant responsibility. The Search Committee is committed to conducting a thorough and inclusive process, which will be guided throughout by input from a broad cross-section of the PDS community.

The Search Committee will endeavor to balance a desire for transparency with a need for confidentiality to protect candidates and the integrity of the search process. Updates will be posted regularly to the Head of School Search website, where all communications and documents will be shared.

Head of School Search Committee
The School’s commitment to creating an inclusive community guided the selection of the Search Committee members who, collectively, represent a diverse set of demographic criteria and connections to the School. While the members have a wide range of personal and professional backgrounds, all share a deep commitment to the School’s mission, values and long-term success.

The charge of the Board of Trustees to the Search Committee is to “engage in a thoughtful, thorough process to identify, assess and ultimately recruit and recommend the best possible candidate for the Board to consider as the next Head of Princeton Day School.”

●      Ashley Aitken-Davies (Chair), Trustee, Middle School and Lower School Parent

●      Christopher Bobbitt, Trustee, Upper School and Middle School Parent

●      Beth Geter-Douglass ‘82, Trustee, Alumna, Alumna Parent

●      Caroline Lee, Upper School Faculty, Community Multicultural Development Team Chair

●      Cynthia Linville, Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Alumnae Parent

●      Amanda Maher, Trustee, Middle School and Lower School Parent

●      Angharad Rebholz, Middle School Faculty, Sixth Grade Dean

●      Aaron Schomburg, Lower School Faculty, Alumnae Parent

●      Jacob Silverman ‘89, Treasurer of the Board of Trustees, Alumnus

Search Consultants
The Board of Trustees has engaged the highly regarded international search firm of Spencer Stuart to assist with the search. The Spencer Stuart team is led by Mary Gorman, who heads their independent school practice, and she will be assisted by her colleagues, Susan Clifford and Irma Encarnación. Mary, Susan and Irma have extensive and recent experience with comparable Head of School searches and transitions and will work closely with the Search Committee to ensure a successful process and outcome.

Timeline
The Search Committee has targeted an appointment by next Fall 2022, but current Head of School Paul Stellato will continue to lead the School until June 2023. This allows for flexibility in the schedule, and for the Search Committee to take the time it needs to identify and recruit the next Head of School.

Community Listening Sessions and Survey
Working with our Search Consultants, the Search Committee will gather input from conversations at the School and an online survey, draft a position description, and conduct interviews.

In order to gather valuable input in advance of the search, the Spencer Stuart team will conduct a series of in-person listening sessions with PDS parents, students, faculty and staff on January 10 and 11. Additional sessions will be held over Zoom for alumni and parents who are unable to attend. A detailed schedule will be posted to the Search website. An online survey will also be circulated to all members of the School community in the first week of January.

Feedback from the listening sessions and survey will be used to draft a compelling position description that highlights the School’s strengths, accurately reflects the skills and qualities desired in a new Head, and identifies the opportunities and challenges the new Head will face. This information will also guide the Search Committee throughout the interview process, as it seeks to find the candidate who will best serve the School’s current needs.

Thanks to Paul Stellato’s many years of strong leadership, our extraordinary faculty, and the deep engagement of our School community, Princeton Day School is in an excellent position to think ambitiously about the future. I am optimistic and excited about this opportunity, and I am grateful for your participation and support as we work together to identify our new Head of School.

Ashley Aitken-Davies
Chair, Head of School Search Committee

Letter from Head of School Paul J. Stellato

Paul J. Stellato November 2021 Photo

To the Princeton Day School Community,

As we move quickly to the start of the winter holiday, I write to let you know that the 2022-2023 school year, my 15th as Head of School, will be my last at Princeton Day School.

Maureen and I have discussed this decision often, and I have had many occasions to think about and plan for the ways in which I might share my deep love, affection, and respect for our school community. Having embraced our daughters, Kate and Lauren, and both of us from the moment we appeared in the wings (hoping very much to step onto the biggest stage of our lives), you have inspired, challenged, and encouraged me. Yet, as one who has spent much of his time on the Great Road in front of one audience or another, I cannot match the moment as fully as I would like, or as all of you deserve. Instead, let me share just a bit of my experience.

How fortunate I have been to sit in this seat, walk these corridors, visit these classrooms, stand on the stage of McAneny Theater and sit mesmerized in its seats, linger in the garden, climb in the ropes course, breathe deep in the greenhouse, wander through the Matthews Arts Wing, read in the Lower School, act and sing in the Operetta, teach in the 8th Grade, serve as an advisor, lead the Halloween Parade, cheer at Smoyer, Pagoda, Krueger, and Baker Fields, roar in the stands at the Lisa McGraw ’44 Skating Rink, and burst with pride and joy at an overtime goal that bested a foe at Baker Rink. 

Together we have thrived through a recession and a pandemic, faced forward in pursuit of equity and justice, watched proudly as our school enrollment came to reflect the larger community it serves, and worked tirelessly to endow our students with a sense of awe of the natural world and an appreciation of their responsibility to it. From the STEAM Centers to Shepherd Commons to the Princeton Day School Athletic Center to our beloved Behr House, our school has beckoned me to take my place. Who could resist such invitations?

And how great have been the opportunities afforded me, for the very same promises we extend to our students have been offered graciously and generously to me: to come to know myself better and to stretch, reach, and grow; and to follow faithfully and to lead enthusiastically and hopefully. I have been embraced by colleagues, students, parents, alumni, board members, and friends of the school in their moments of greatest reverie, and I have embraced them in their moments of doubt and grief. And in 2018, when Maureen and I faced the greatest challenge of our lives, our school community lifted us onto its shoulders, carried us forward and, 100 days on, welcomed me back with 1,000 paper cranes floating high above the McAneny stage.

I have spent my days among the most remarkable schoolchildren, gifted and giving in every way; faculty and staff colleagues, poised, passionate, and powerful; our many parents, who have entrusted our school with their children and encouraged us all to do well and fairly by each of them; members of the Leadership Team, wise counsels and confidantes; board colleagues, whose devotion to our school is matched by their clear vision of its brilliant future; Board Chairs Treby Williams ’80, Barbie Cole ’78, and Rebecca Bushnell ’70, whose partnership and leadership have proved essential; and alumni and friends, who have shepherded me into their ranks and shared with me the feeling that resides in all who love our school.

My dearest partner Maureen and I come to this decision as part of an extended conversation about our lives together and with our children, and with the anticipation of a world filled with opportunities. As it has done with its graduates, Princeton Day School has readied me for my next step and has filled me with confidence, optimism, and expectation. In a very real sense, I go into the world as they do.

Still, I share with you today a decision, not a farewell. The great work of Princeton Day School continues, and, in its pursuit, I will continue to lead, follow, cheer, and challenge for the next 18 months. As our school seeks to attract and bring to it an outstanding head of school, I will play the role my predecessors played for me: as one who helps frame the power and scope of our school and gives voice to the unalloyed joy of leading it.

Fourteen years ago, Maureen and I set out on a great adventure. Along the way, we have had much joy, a little sorrow, and many surprises. The best part of it all is that, waiting for and surrounding us along the way and joining with us now, near its close, are all of you.

Sincerely,

Paul J. Stellato

 

Letter from Board Chair Rebecca W. Bushnell '70

Rebecca Bushnell '70 Photo

To the Princeton Day School Community,

While we might have known this day would come, it is still hard to imagine Princeton Day School without Paul Stellato at the helm. Each and every day, Paul has led our school with distinction and strengthened our school community in profound ways.

Paul’s stewardship of Princeton Day School has been nothing short of remarkable. From the Great Recession of 2008 to the COVID-19 pandemic and every year in between, he thoughtfully and strategically sustained every program, supported every faculty member and student, and delivered a high-quality education throughout his impressive tenure. In my position as Board Chair and his partner for the last four years, I have watched him meet so many challenges and lead the School wisely through them, only to have us emerge stronger in the end.

Paul’s ability to know our community and his belief in every one of us is a gift for which we will always be grateful. Through his leadership, we enhanced our faculty professional development, continued to diversify our school community, broke down divisional barriers, and boosted our wellness resources for children. Over many years his exceptional fundraising has brought new resources and facilities to the school that have supported every aspect of our mission.

We have appreciated Maureen Stellato’s many contributions as well. Paul and Maureen are true partners and beloved members of this community. Not only has she been a gracious host for countless gatherings at Behr House since the family arrived in 2008, but she also served as Special Events Manager in the Advancement Office for seven years and was an integral part of the success of THRIVE! The Campaign for Student Experience.

On behalf of the Board and myself, I want to express my profound gratitude to both Paul and Maureen. We will miss them dearly; they both have demonstrated a genuine love for our community and we will continue to rely on their support in the months ahead.

Princeton Day School is in a strong position to move forward because of Paul’s leadership. Our school is experiencing strong enrollment trends and interest in the School continues to grow. We have an excellent Search Committee in place, chaired by parent and trustee Ashley Aitken-Davies. This group of experienced and dedicated individuals will devote themselves to delivering the best possible candidates for the Board to consider as the next Head of School of Princeton Day School.

Please join us. We invite you to share your ideas and hopes for the future. Together, we will make it happen.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Bushnell Signature

Rebecca W. Bushnell ’70
 

Remarks from Behr House

Head of School Search Process: FAQs