Where Is TBS in the Head of School Search Process?


Julie O'Brien Photography

After the passing of Mr. Goldberg, who will ultimately take over as the new head of school?

TBS is still reeling from the loss of Head of School Mr. Robert S. Goldberg.

“It’s a tragedy,” said Head of Middle School Mr. Charles Hagy. “However, he left behind a really good school of resilient students, teachers, and parents. We spent as much time as possible with Mr. Goldberg while he was alive. He knows how much we love him.”

As of now, Chief Financial Officer Mrs. Leslie Downs, in her second full year at TBS, is the acting head of school at this moment to ensure that the school is runs smoothly.

“We have to have someone acting as head of school all the time, so that allows [Mrs. Downs] to sit in on trustee meetings and sign off on things as head of school,” said Hagy. “When we have an acting head of school, it takes a lot off of my plate, [Lower School Head] Dr. [Kristen] Sheehan’s plate, and [Upper School Head] Mr. [Fletcher] Carr’s plate, and she’s doing a great job.”

However, Downs’ position is only temporary. Mr. Goldberg’s original plan was to retire next year, but due to his recent passing, TBS will hire an interim head this summer while the Board’s Head of School Search Committee looks for a permanent head. TBS has hired the nationally recognized firm Carney Sandoe & Associates, which recruits teachers and administrators for placement in private, independent schools across the United States and abroad, to help with the search. In addition, the Board has sought input from parents and teachers via a

Head of School Search Faculty Group Committee. Their task is to help find a dynamic leader who can continue to lead Benjamin forward into the future.

“Mr. Goldberg  was a people person,” said Middle School Digital Media Director Mr. Nicholas Crisafi, “and I feel that the new head of school must be one, too. The new head also needs to appreciate the legacy and history of The Benjamin School, as well as having a definitive vision for what the school needs to do to place itself at the forefront of the market as we move forward.”  

While the plan is for the interim head is to be in place for only a year, his or her job will be to communicate effectively with the TBS community and help ease the permanent head into the position.

“The interim should be someone who can be an overseer-type person who can list their strengths and weaknesses as we currently are, and what they can do to help the new head of school into their position, so it’s an easier transition,” said Middle School Math Department Chair Mrs. Cathy Hansen, who also serves on the Head of School Search Faculty Group Committee.

According to a letter from Head of School Search Committee Co-Chairs Mrs. Jill Fried and Mr. Kelly Perkins, TBS already brought in the top two interim candidates for interviews at the beginning of April. These two gentlemen met with the Head of School Search Committee, Head of School Search Faculty Group Committee, division heads, and administration. After consolidating the feedback from all of the individuals with whom they met, the School plans to extend an offer to a candidate by the end of April or beginning of May and have the interim head begin work July 1.

As for the permanent head of school search, the committee is also moving forward and on schedule. With the help of Carney Sandoe, it still expects finalists to visit in September of 2019 and to name a new head by October of this year.

However, finding a new fit for this job is not an easy task, so the search committee hopes to find someone who, according to the committee’s desired qualities and qualifications, understands our school culture, has a high moral character, is an innovative thinker, effective communicator, and team builder, possesses energy and passion, and has the ability to inspire the TBS community.

“You’re looking for is someone who will run the School [and] help keep us financially stable; help us grow,” said Hagy. “You have to be forward-thinking, very knowledgeable of how schools run. You have to love kids, know the school culture, the school’s traditions, [and] engage with people. But it’s a tough job, so you have to be tough as well.”  

Students have their expectations, too.  

“I want the new head of school to possess all the Benjamin character traits, just like Mr. Goldberg,” said seventh grader Luca Balzano. “He or she should be a great mentor for teachers and students. I feel that the upcoming head of school should acknowledge that it will not be easy to do this job and they will have lots of responsibilities.”

Some students even have specific programs they want the new permanent head to address.

“I feel that the new head of school needs to be kind, he or she has to care about our school, and be thoughtful of everyone,” said fellow seventh grader Addie Vining. “I feel that when the new head of school starts their job, he or she should acknowledge the people who dislike RAAP and turn it into something else.”

While this is a time of uncertainty for TBS, it’s also an intriguing time to find a leader who is able to meet the challenges Benjamin faces, namely attracting more students, competing against other area schools, and overcoming the lack of collaboration and familiarity among students and faculty as a result of having two separate campuses.

“I think this is an exciting time for the upcoming head of school due to the building of the new STEM Building and the immense amount of talent that our students have in every division,” said Crisafi.  “This is a great school. We have been around a long time, and we are in a great part of the country, so I think it is a fantastic opportunity for whomever is the new head,” he said.