Board Chair Rebecca Bushnell '70 announced to the community on June 16, 2022 that Kelley Nicholson-Flynn, Ph.D. has been appointed by the Princeton Day School Board of Trustees to serve as our next Head of School. Kelley is a visionary educator, proven administrator, and collaborative community builder. The Search Committee unanimously recommended Kelley to the Board, who voted that she should succeed Paul Stellato, our current Head of School. Kelley will join PDS and assume the Head of School role in July 2023.
A Message from Board Chair, Rebecca Bushnell ‘70
Dear Princeton Day School Community,
I am delighted to announce that Kelley Nicholson-Flynn, Ph.D. has been appointed by the Princeton Day School Board of Trustees to serve as our next Head of School. Kelley is a visionary educator, proven administrator, and collaborative community builder. The Search Committee unanimously recommended Kelley to the Board, who voted that she should succeed Paul Stellato, our current Head of School. Kelley will join PDS and assume the Head of School role in July 2023.
Kelley is currently the Assistant Head of School for Operations at Riverdale Country School, a pre-K-12 independent school in the Bronx, New York City. She assumed this position in 2020 after serving for eight years as Head of Upper School at Riverdale. Kelley began her teaching career at the Lawrenceville School in 1998, where she worked for 14 years in roles of increasing responsibility, including Chair of the Science Department, Chair of the Interdisciplinary Program, and Coordinator of Teaching and Learning Programs.
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Bucknell University and a Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Science Studies from Johns Hopkins University, she earned her doctorate in a joint program in Cell and Developmental Biology at Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She has published in peer-reviewed journals and instructed medical students in Histology and Cell Biology. Kelley has also led multiple programs through the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University's Teachers College including the Klingenstein Summer Institute and the FORGE leadership development program.
Throughout the search process, Kelley consistently demonstrated exceptional interpersonal skills, a genuine warmth, and an openness to considering a wide range of views and perspectives. She impressed the Search Committee and Board of Trustees with her understanding of PDS and our unique position in the Princeton community. She is an experienced teacher, administrator, and scholar who will bring a research-driven and evidence-based approach to her new role. In her words, she will “seek to articulate a vision for the School’s future and chart a path for progress in a culture of continuous learning and improvement.”
Upper School Faculty Member and Community Multicultural Development Team Chair Caroline Lee said, “It has been a pleasure getting to know Kelley. She is an inspiring leader. She’s held multiple leadership roles but clearly remains committed to evolving in her practice. She is a learner at heart, and we see how her purpose is woven into all that she does, whether it’s facilitating a meeting, teaching a class, or interacting with students and families. She is also a skillful and empathic listener whose leadership will help continue our DEIB work. Those of us on the committee were heartened by the way Kelley studied our Facing Forward documents and asked thoughtful questions about how to continue this work.”
Middle School Humanities faculty member and Sixth Grade Dean Angharad Rebholz said, “What struck me most about Kelley’s style was her ability to make space for every voice in a school community. She is a community builder who leads from the heart and brings warmth and compassion to every conversation. At each stage of the Search Committee’s process, we carried with us the charge outlined in the position statement, and Kelley exemplifies the precise characteristics we seek in our next school leader.”
Dominic Randolph, Riverdale’s Head of School, described Kelley as “an exceptional teacher, an accomplished administrator, and an amazing human.” He said, “Kelley has devoted her life to improving the learning and ethical decision-making of young people in all spheres of school life. I know she will bring her wisdom, her excellence in all that she does, and her broad expertise to Princeton Day School as she continues her work making school environments the very best that they can be for our children.”
Paul Stellato has led PDS with distinction and has strengthened every part of our School and its community over his remarkable long tenure as Head of School. We look forward to celebrating and thanking Paul for his exceptional service over the course of the 2022/23 academic year. He has positioned PDS for a seamless transition and an exciting future under Kelley’s leadership.
In closing, I would like to thank the entire PDS community for your participation in this search process. The shared vision that we collectively defined at the outset of the Head of School search has guided us through every step of the process, and I’m thrilled with the outcome. In addition, I especially thank the Search Committee for their tireless commitment to the intense and demanding work required of this critical decision, and in particular, Ashley Aitken-Davies for her outstanding leadership: in addition to Ashley, the Committee included Christopher Bobbitt, Beth Geter-Douglass ’82, Caroline Lee, Cynthia Linville, Amanda Maher, Angharad Rebholz, Aaron Schomburg, and Jacob Silverman ’89.
We will be in touch over the summer as we finalize plans for introducing Kelley to the PDS community, and we look forward to seeing her on campus frequently over the 2022-2023 academic year.
Wishing you a safe and enjoyable summer,
Rebecca Bushnell ‘70
A Message from Kelley Nicholson-Flynn, Newly Appointed Head of School
Dear Princeton Day School Community,
I could not be any more excited to join PDS beginning in 2023! Over the next 12 months, I am eager to learn all that I can about the people, the programs, the places, and the traditions that characterize this exceptional school. I would like to thank the members of the Search Committee for constructing a thoughtful and engaging search process, for sharing their knowledge of and hopes for the school, and for so authentically representing the joy that permeates Princeton Day School.
During the search process, I was able to visit campus and meet some of the school leaders that help a school like PDS thrive. I was also able to spend time with Head of School Paul Stellato, whose extraordinary leadership provides me with a strong foundation to serve as the next Head of School. Most importantly, each person I’ve met helped me understand what all of you already know–that Princeton Day School is a magical place. This school has a remarkable academic program, art and athletics programs that encourage young people to flourish, a steadfast commitment to building a diverse and equitable community where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued, and a decades-long record to promote sustainability. Even with these incredible strengths, many at the school ask, “how can we be better?” This dual description of the school as a place of excellence where everyone can grow and learn is what drew me in.
I am grateful to the Board of Trustees who have put their faith in me to lead PDS through its next important chapter. The work ahead is challenging as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to confront injustices in our communities, work to build healthy discourse amidst deep political polarization, and grapple with the social and emotional challenges that our kids face. I cannot think of anywhere else I would rather be than working on these challenges on behalf of and in partnership with the faculty, families, and students that comprise Princeton Day School.
I look forward to my family falling in love with Princeton Day School the way I have. I will be joined by my spouse, Greg, and my two children, Mira (21, they/them) and Jillian (14, she/her). Last but not least, you will all soon meet my two black labs, Wrigley (11) and Lucy (5 months).
I believe in the promise of PDS where faculty, families, and students make good on the commitment to give each learner “opportunities of a lifetime, every day.” I can’t wait to meet you all!
Warmly and sincerely,