Article XXII:  The Headmaster Search – Strategic Legacy in Action

Retaining and transitioning to a new headmaster is one of the most strategic legacies a sitting board of directors will leave to their school.  The board can choose to conduct the search or retain a specialized executive search firm search firm.  This outline assumes the board has chosen to conduct the search although the outline will be similar to the retained search process.  When you are in this process, pray the Lord in his superintendence of all things assures selection of the candidate genuinely called to lead the school to the next level.

Search Process:

  • Refining the school mission, ethos and vision
  • Defining and profiling the opportunity
  • Creating and distributing the opportunity
  • Assessing the candidates and making a selection
  • Making the offer and concluding the search
  • Accelerating transition into leadership

Taking it Step by Step:

Refining the school mission, ethos and vision

1. What is the school’s vision, what are its core promises based on and what does the school embody?

-Mission vision and core values statements

-Ends Statements in the Policy Governance Manual

-Statement of purpose in the Articles and Bylaws


Defining the opportunity and profiling the position

1. Who is the school looking for?

-A visionary Christian school leader that incarnates the vision and core promises of the school.

-A head teacher passionate about Christian education that is persuasive as a teacher, public speaker and writer, and effective in curriculum, faculty and student development and evaluation.

-A highly capably chief executive officer possessing strengths in broad institutional supervision, advancement, staff development, finance and business, and capital project leadership.

2. Opportunity Profile – Combines candidate description and a profile of the school – Samples are available


Creating and distributing the opportunity – How does the school find candidates?

1. Abbreviate the opportunity profile as an advertisement – Samples available

2. Distribute to appropriate outlets or institutional leaders to query for developing a pool of candidates.

3. Directly contact colleagues and leaders of the Christian school renewal and readily identifiable heads of leading schools that you know who can help generate some of the best leads.

4. Advertise the opportunity

-Choose appropriate school associations that include position-posting services.

-Direct your search toward the school and opportunity profile.  If the school is a classical day school advertising will be different than if it is a military boarding school.


Assessing the candidates and making a selection – What are the selection criteria.

1. Selection criteria based on the candidate profile

2. Vetting the prospects

3. Developing a short list

4. Interviewing etc.

5. Making a decision


Making the offer and concluding the search – How much will the school spend and how open is the board to a candidate’s specific needs and desires?

1. Salary and benefits

2. Opportunities for professional growth such as completion of a doctorate

3. Leadership and working conditions.  Provision of staff, financial resources and scope of authority matter to a new leader.  An experienced headmaster candidate will be interviewing the board as much as the board is interviewing the candidate.  The candidate will also desire an environment suitable to his/her leadership approach.


Accelerating transition into leadership – How can the school pass the baton in stride. 

1. The school needs to be prepared to receive the new superintendent such that transition is as accelerated as possible.

2. I recommend applying the principles found in The First 90 Days by Watkins.

Handled well with the favor of God, the search process and transition to new leadership can rejuvenate a school providing the impulse to move to the next level consistent with the school’s vision.


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The Headmaster as Chief Financial Officer
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