Thursday, March 1, 2012

Remarks to the Faculty and Staff on Tim Tinnesz's Announcement of His New Headship

First of all, I want to congratulate Tim, express my gratitude for his leadership and our friendship, and my pride that he is going to be the new head of St. Timothy's School (Raleigh). St. Timothy's is one of the finest PreK-8th-Grade Independent Schools in the state, and I encourage you to google it to learn more about Tim's new home. He is going to a distinguished school with a fantastic reputation, and they are so fortunate to have someone of Tim's abilities at the helm. It makes me really proud, and it should make everyone here really proud, to be a launching pad for talented people like Tim who are becoming independent school leaders. Linda Nelson, Tim's predecessor, is providing outstanding leadership as executive director of the North Carolina Association of Independent Schools, and now Tim is assuming a similarly prestigious role. As head of school, my primary responsibility is to educate students, prepare them for success, and instill a desire to make a positive difference in family, community, and world. But Gaston Day School has a secondary responsibility to educate future independent school leaders. We are doing that!

Tim Tinnesz has been a leader in academic excellence and improvement at Gaston Day. The reforms he has overseen have been accomplished in the context of a team of teachers, departments, and administrators. What the Upper and Middle Schools have accomplished under his leadership--from AP pass rates, to national awards, to college acceptances--is remarkable. Again, speaking personally, I am grateful to have had Tim as a friendly, supportive colleague who brought fresh and challenging ideas on how to improve Gaston Day School. He leaves really big shoes to fill. Thanks, Tim!

So let's talk about who will succeed Tim and how that process will unfold. It has already begun with informal conversations that I am having both inside and outside Gaston Day to determine what I want the process to be. I may appoint an internal candidate. It may be as an interim. I may do an outside search. As a rule, I prefer to hire from within. My last two appointments, Tim and Linda, have done nothing to convince me otherwise. But it may or may not be time to look outside. At present, I want several weeks to discuss the situation with people I respect. I am not presently soliciting internal candidates to come forward and express their interest in the position. I may later, but not yet. If I decide to do an outside search, then I will be looking to you for suggested candidates, and many of you will be involved in the selection process. If we do an outside search, it will be next school year.

Finally, let me talk about my attitude toward change. Change is inevitable and invigorating. One of the favorite sayings of Mao Zedong, Communist China's former leader, was "The World is in Revolution. The situation is excellent!" What he meant was that times of change are particularly fluid and open, and they present unusual opportunities for improvement. Now Gaston Day does not need a revolution. It is a strong school, with a great team of educators, and is heading in a good direction. But new leadership will bring new perspectives and opportunities. I am about to say something that may sound like a joke or a double entendre, but it is not. I am being as earnest and honest as I can possibly be. Ready?

We have a great school, full of talented educators. Tim Tinnesz is leaving. The situation is excellent!

Saying that does not diminish what Tim has accomplished and meant to us, or suggest he will be easy to replace or say good bye to. It means none of that. But it does mean this is an exciting time--a time when important decisions must be made--and a time when a new leader must be chosen. You need to know how excited I am to be starting a search for a new upper and middle school head. You need to know how confident I am that we (or mostly I) will ultimately pick someone who in time will achieve the full measure of success that Tim and Linda have. Some people hate change, some people come alive. I like it when the stakes are high! This whole process is very serious, but it is also going to be fun for me, and I hope for you too. The situation really is excellent for both Tim and Gaston Day!