Head of School Search
Welcome to Justin L. Smith
The St. Anne’s Episcopal School Board of Trustees is extremely happy to announce that Mr. Justin L. Smith will be the new Head of School beginning on the first of July. After a national search lasting eight months, which identified many outstanding candidates, Justin became the unanimous choice of the board, as the preeminent candidate to lead St. Anne’s next chapter.
Justin has clearly been preparing for the opportunity to lead a school for nearly twenty years. A graduate of Washington College with a B.S. in Psychology, Justin was part of their teacher education program. He followed that ten years later with an M.Ed. in Independent School Leadership from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, which is one of the top teacher education programs in the country. Additionally, he has an Executive Business Certificate from Notre Dame and has completed the Florida Council of Independent Schools Professional Development program for Prospective Heads.
Added to this is Justin’s eighteen years in education; thirteen of which have been in Episcopal schools. During his career, he has experienced many roles in the lower and middle school levels, ranging from teaching third grade to teaching, coaching, and being an administrator in middle schools before he became a head of school. Justin was a head of school during COVID, with all its challenges, and is presently leading St. Mark’s Episcopal Academy. However, credentials alone do not guarantee a good leader, and Justin’s personal attributes were a convincing factor for the board.
Justin’s knowledge and understanding of St. Anne’s during his interviews and visit were noteworthy, but also very important was his ability to connect with the community at large. We received positive comments from every part of our community that reinforced our own optimistic response. It also became clear that Justin was in complete alignment with our mission and our values and goals, including our commitment to honoring diversity and our desire to expand our outdoor program. Most of all, it is clear that he is a man of integrity who is committed to education and one who is called to serve St. Anne’s.
We look forward to welcoming Justin, Paola, and Stefan Lee to our community this spring and to a long and successful tenure at St. Anne’s. Justin has sent a letter to our community and it is included below my signature. I encourage you to read it.
President of the Board of Trustees
Letter From Justin Smith
Dear St. Anne’s Episcopal School,
I am filled with great enthusiasm and pride to be named St. Anne’s next Head of School!
During our visit to St. Anne’s, my wife and I were perpetually impressed with everyone we met. As we walked the hallways and entered classrooms, students, faculty, and parents warmly greeted us with pride and spoke lovingly about SAES’ exceptional qualities. The school’s community is strongly committed to its mission to provide an education that focuses on developing its students' intellectual, spiritual, physical, social, and artistic growth. Throughout my career, I have been passionate about fostering success in all students. It is an innate desire to provide children with innovative and inspirational instruction and mentoring to develop into outstanding citizens for their school and global communities. Every aspect of my career as a teacher, coach, and leader has been centered on whole-child development. This will continue to be true as I serve St. Anne’s as its next Head of School.
Additionally, my wife and I are looking forward to being fellow parents of St. Anne’s. As with every parent, we wish for the best educational opportunities for all children. We are confident that St. Anne’s will provide an outstanding experience to our son Stefan Lee, a proud Heron kindergartener, in August. As parents, we are delighted to be immersed in what makes St. Anne’s special in the hearts of everyone. Furthermore, we welcome the opportunity to build relationships with all constituents to continually grow St. Anne’s into the region's premier Pre-K to 8th grade independent school, while embodying the hopes and dreams for everyone’s child to become the best versions of themselves.
Truly, I am excited about the numerous possibilities we have in front of us, especially as we build towards the school’s 25th Anniversary! During this time, the Board of Trustees and I will continually be committed to the diversity of our school, the expansion of outdoor education, and enhancing St. Anne’s education for all our students.
With great sincerity,
Justin L. Smith
A Letter to the Community:
November 21, 2023
Dear St. Anne’s Episcopal School Community,
As we enter into this week of giving thanks, we are excited to update you on our Head of School Search and path forward.
We began our search informally this summer, spreading the word about the exciting opportunities ahead at St. Anne’s Episcopal School. This recruiting process was enhanced by the feedback we received from many of you via survey and in-person feedback and culminated in the release of the position statement at the end of September. When the application window closed on October 27th, we were pleased to have received 35 applications from around the country and from a pool of candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences.
In early November the search committee, in partnership with our search advisors at RG-175, selected a group of eight candidates to move forward in the process. We are now excited to announce that three finalists have been selected and will be visiting St. Anne’s over the next two weeks.
The selection of these finalists followed a thorough, criteria-driven and collaborative process. At every step in the selection process our committee was guided by St. Anne’s mission and the attributes we identified in the Head of School position description. We sought candidates who embodied our Episcopal identity and guiding principles of respect, responsibility and compassion. While we evaluated candidates based on all the attributes presented in the position statement, in particular we sought candidates who are transparent communicators with distinct track records and accomplishments in the following areas:
Strategic and visionary leadership
Building and supporting diverse, equitable and inclusive communities
Hiring, investing in and retaining outstanding teachers and administrators
Financial acumen, decision-making and fundraising experience
Interest and experience in outdoor education
Our first Head of School candidate will visit campus on Thursday, November 30th and Friday, December 1st. On November 28th we will send out Candidate 1’s resume to the community in preparation for their visit. We encourage families to meet all of the candidates in person and we will offer two opportunities to do so for each candidate.
Candidate #1: November 30th and December 1st
Thursday, November 30th, 2:30-3:30 PM (Library)
Friday, December 1st, 7:30-8:30 AM (Library)
The other two candidates will come to campus as follows:
Candidate #2: December 4th and 5th
Monday, December 4th, 2:30-3:30 PM (Library)
Tuesday, December 5th, 7:30-8:30 AM (Library)
Candidate #3: December 7th and 8th
Thursday, December 7th, 2:30-3:30 PM (Library)
Friday, December 8th, 7:30-8:30 AM (Library)
Please save these dates and times. We will send out each candidate’s resume 48 hours in advance of their visit. In addition to the meetings above, candidates will meet with various members of our community, including faculty, staff, administrators, students, parents and board trustees. Following each visit we will give you an opportunity to provide feedback via a survey and this will be a key element of the search committee’s evaluation and eventual recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
We look forward to welcoming our finalists and hope you will enjoy meeting them as much as we have. They represent a mix of exciting perspectives and vision for the future of St. Anne’s.
Emily Kegerreis, Search Committee Co-Chair
Harry Baetjer, Chair of the Board of Trustees and Search Committee Co-Chair
August 1, 2023
Dear St. Anne’s Episcopal School Community,
We are excited to announce the kick-off of the community input gathering phase of the St. Anne’s Head of School search process! As we continue to emphasize a thorough, inclusive, transparent, and mission-driven search process, we are launching a community-wide online survey. Later this month we will announce dates for in-person community forums which will take place at St. Anne’s on September 12th and 13th.
Together, the survey and forums will help us gather the views, perspectives, and input of our community. The Search Committee, alongside our RG-175 search consultants Marcia Prewitt Spiller and Hamilton Clark, want to ensure that our search process draws from a diverse pool of perspectives. This will be a crucial foundation to developing our shared vision for the future of St. Anne’s and identifying the kind of leader to build on the successes of the past two decades.
During the month of August, we encourage you to share your voice with the Search Committee and our consultants via the online survey linked below. It should not take more than ten minutes to complete the survey and all responses are anonymous. The survey is live now and will close at the end of the day Friday, September 1st.
The survey can be reached at this link.
Thank you in advance for your participation. Your thoughtful ideas and unique perspectives are an essential component of the search process and we are grateful for your commitment to our community.
Emily and Harry
Emily Kegerreis, Search Committee, Co-Chair
Harry Baetjer, Chair of the Board and Search Committee Co-Chair
July 6, 2023
Dear St. Anne's Episcopal School Community,
We hope this letter finds you all in good health and high spirits. As we embark on an exciting new chapter in the life of our school, we are delighted to share an update on the Head of School search committee process.
We are committed to conducting a thorough, inclusive, transparent, and mission-driven search to find the leader who will continue to uphold the values and traditions that make St. Anne's a remarkable institution. As part of the St. Anne's community, you play an integral role in this important endeavor. We value your input and contributions and are committed to ensuring that your voices are heard throughout the entire process.
Following our announcement in June of the formation of the search committee members and selection of the search firm RG-175 to lead the Head of School search, we would like to take this opportunity to share with you the next steps in the search committee process:
1. Gathering Community Input: In August, we will conduct surveys and organize open forums to actively seek the perspectives and expectations of our diverse community members regarding the qualities and characteristics they envision in our next Head of School. Your input is invaluable in defining the ideal candidate profile. Online surveys will be released in early August and there will be additional opportunities for you to interact with the search committee in person from September 12-13th. More details on these September meetings will be released in August.
2. Candidate Interviews and Selection: The recruiting of candidates will take place in October. In November the search committee will conduct a thorough and comprehensive evaluation of all potential candidates, conduct interviews with the top candidates and narrow the list to three semi-finalist candidates. Semi-finalists will be invited to visit our campus in early December to interact with students, faculty, staff, parents, and trustees, and engage in a rigorous interview process.
3. Decision and Announcement: After thoughtful consideration and taking into account feedback from the community, the search committee will present its final recommendation to the Board of Trustees. Once the new Head of School has been appointed and has accepted the position, we will promptly share this exciting and joyous news with the entire community. Our goal is to make this announcement before the December holiday break.
Throughout the entire process, we are committed to ensuring transparency in communication and keeping the community informed of the progress. We will maintain confidentiality when required while striving to keep you involved and updated.
We understand the significance of this leadership transition, and we want to assure you that we have the best interests of St. Anne's at heart. Thank you for your unwavering support and commitment to our school. Your dedication to the education and well-being of our students truly sets us apart as a community. We encourage you all to actively participate in the search process, ensuring your voices are heard.
Please feel free to reach out to us directly if you have any questions or suggestions. We value your input and feedback immensely. All updates and communication regarding the Head of School search will be posted on the website.
Wishing you a wonderful summer.
Emily and Harry
Emily Kegerreis, Search Committee, Co-Chair
Harry Baetjer, Chair of the Board and Search Committee Co-Chair
Dear Saint Anne's Episcopal School Community,
Barry's announcement that the 2023 - 2024 school year would be his last at St. Anne's led the Board of Trustees to begin the selection process to find a search firm that would help us to identify our next Head of School. A search committee was organized and interviewed four firms that are leaders in this field. After these interviews, we have decided to partner with Resource Group 175 (RG175)
Composed exclusively of former heads of independent schools, RG175’s unique perspective and ability to listen deeply and distill the culture of a school will make them invaluable partners. RG175 consultants Marcia Spiller and Hamilton Clark will help guide our process—seeking input from our school community, serving as coaches to our search committee and recruiting qualified candidates.
They are clearly sensitive to the unique needs of a pre-k to 8 school and honor the tradition of Episcopal Schools. In fact, Hamilton Clark was the Head of School at Episcopal Academy in Merion. Marcia was the head of the Children's School in Atlanta for two decades.
We also want to share the names of the members of our head of school search committee. This team will engage in a thoughtful, thorough, and confidential process to review and engage potential candidates to lead St. Anne's. It was important to us to include faculty representatives in this group, and we are fortunate to have the spouses of current faculty and current parents on our board to broaden our perspective. Ultimately, the search committee will recommend to the Board of Trustees the next individual to lead the school.
The Head of School Search Committee
Emily Kegerreis: co-chair, parent '26, 28, incoming Vice-president of the Board of Trustees
Harry Baetjer: co-chair, incoming President of the Board of Trustees
Taylor Cameron: trustee, faculty spouse, parent '14,'16
Donald Cooney: trustee
Melissa Flores: faculty, parent '23, '27
Jameria Gillis: faculty
Dr. Lindsey Rowland Heller: trustee, parent '27, '29
Stephen Ovadje: trustee, faculty spouse, parent '26, '30
Dr. Rhae Riegel: trustee, parent '30
Dr. Vijay Viswanathan: trustee, parent '25, '27
The publication of this message will initiate the search consultants' work as they will begin to spread the word about the opening. They will also begin to review possible candidates that they know and identify new candidates who may be appropriate for this position. In August or early September, the consultants will be on campus to conduct interviews with faculty, administrators, trustees, parents, alumni, and students—the results of which will provide valuable information used to write a position statement. This statement will be shared widely and is an initial step in the recruitment stage of our search.
We know that we can count on your valuable input, as we work through the search, and will be certain to share updates over the course of the search. We are excited that Barry will be with us and sharing his enthusiasm and love of St. Anne's with us for one more year. We hope it will be one of the best years ever. We also encourage everyone to take the opportunity to be engaged in the process when the opportunities present themselves. It is an exciting time to be at St. Anne's.
For more information on our head of school search as it becomes available, please visit the Head of School Search webpage.
Thank you for your support,
Harry Baetjer and Emily Kegerreis
A message from the head of school:
April 21, 2023
Dear Board of Trustees,
As someone who always wears his heart on his sleeve, I’ll admit to mixed emotions as I write this letter of resignation, effective June 30, 2024. While my work at St. Anne’s continues to be meaningful and enjoyable, I have accepted another leadership opportunity at the McLean School in Potomac, Maryland, a step that represents the capstone of my career.
I am forever grateful to my St. Anne’s colleagues and to our Board of Trustees for their collective commitment and dedication to our students and to our mission. I am proud of the work we have done together over the last four years during what has been a challenging time in our world.
My connection to St. Anne’s has always been about passion-filled relationships and love for this community. My time at St. Anne’s has been filled with milestones, celebrations, and even a few challenges along the way. During my tenure, we have managed to navigate a global pandemic, successfully earn re-accreditation, grow our enrollment, and raise the profile of this incredible institution around Middletown and beyond. Perhaps most importantly, with the support of our Board of Trustees and senior leadership team, we are making moves that will position St. Anne’s for success well into the 21st century. I look forward to completing our schedule changes as well as the work with Leadership and Design on our strategic plan during the course of the next year.
While the adults in this community have been fantastic, like most educators, I got into this field in order to work with and have an impact on young people – and so it is the students here who have truly inspired me. I love my daily interactions with our young Herons, whether at the lunch table, watching them explore the woods, or performing on stage or on the fields– the students here leave me feeling optimistic for the future.
The St. Anne’s community will always have a special place in my heart as I have grown both personally and professionally in immense ways during this journey. Please know that I am fully committed to St. Anne’s until my last day on campus.
I am, as always, Heron Proud.