BFS
Getting Ready for 2018-19

Head of School Search

In June 2019, Dr. Larry Weiss will retire after 10 years as Head of School.  In preparation for his departure, the Board of Trustees has established a search committee and retained a leading education search firm. Clerked by trustees Macon Jessop, parent of Middle and Upper School students, and William Morris, retired head of Friends Academy, the committee will include stakeholders of the BFS community. Jim Wickenden and Laura Hansen of Wickenden Associates will support and guide us in our search for a new Head of School.

This page will be updated regularly.

Update as of June 11, 2018

Based on Jim Wickenden and Laura Hansen’s meetings with members of the BFS community and the 324 candid responses to the online survey – thank you to all who took the time to complete the survey – the Search Committee has finalized the Opportunity Statement for potential candidates and our community. During the summer, Jim and Laura will be actively recruiting candidates and preparing dossiers for review by the Search Committee in early September. The Search Committee will select and interview approximately eight semi-finalists, and then select the three Finalists who will come to the school for two-day visits in early October. During the on-campus visits, you will all have the opportunity to meet each candidate, offer feedback, and represent BFS in an honest and appealing way so that we can attract the best possible Head of School to lead us forward. Macon and Bill will communicate more details as the process unfolds, but we want to underscore how important community involvement is in the search.

Read the Opportunity Statement here.

Update as of April 30, 2018

Wickenden Associates will be visiting Brooklyn Friends on Monday, May 7 and Tuesday, May 8, 2018 to meet with various community stakeholders. Their visit will help inform the opportunity statement that will serve as the basis for the search. To see the full visit schedule, please click here.

Your opinions about Brooklyn Friends School’s signature strengths, challenges, and leadership needs are important to us as we build a strong pool of candidates for the Head of School position.

Please fill out the anonymous online survey.

  • Karine Blemur-Chapman – Director of All-School Enrollment
  • Steve Burwell – Co-Chair Board of Trustees , BFS parent
  • M. Salome Galib – Clerk of Advancement Committee, Trustee, BFS parent
  • Audrey Jaynes ‘03 – BFS Alumna, Trustee, member of Montclair Monthly Meeting, BFS parent
  • Macon Jessop – Co-Clerk Head of School Search Committee, Trustee, BFS parent
  • Kamauru Johnson – Upper School Faculty and Counselor, Trustee, US Principal Search
  • Pam Kiernan – Clerk of Finance Committee, Trustee, BFS parent
  • Bill Morris – Co-Clerk Head of School Search Committee, Trustee, Retired Head of School Friends Academy on Long Island
  • Ed Oliver – Co-Chair Board of Trustees, member of Brooklyn Meeting, BFS parent
  • Margaret Trissel – Middle School Faculty, Trustee, BFS parent
  • Eisa Ulen-Richardson – Co-President, Parent and Teacher Association, BFS parent
  • David Bournas-Ney – LS Faculty member

Communications from the Board of Trustees

Dear Brooklyn Friends Community,

We are pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees has retained Jim Wickenden and Laura Hansen of Wickenden Associates (www.Wickenden.com) to support and guide us in our search for a new Head of School for July 1, 2019. We are excited because we have high confidence that we have the right firm to help us find the best match in leadership at this time in the school’s history.

In our last communication to the community about the Head of School Search, we indicated we had issued a Request for Proposal to seven leading consulting firms, and we received thorough responses from five of the firms. Based on the responses, there were three clear leaders based on experience and philosophy. A group of Trustees – Co-Chairs, Steve Burwell and Ed Oliver, Clerk of Finance, Pam Kiernan, Clerk of Advancement, Salome Galib, Faculty Trustees, Kamauru Johnson and Margaret Trissel, and the two of us spent 90 minutes interviewing each of these three firms on Wednesday and Thursday, April 18 and 19. We also did extensive reference checks on the firms so that we could confirm our impressions and glean additional insights into how each firm would work with us as a community.

Based on the interviews and references, the Selection Committee easily reached unity to retain Jim Wickenden and Laura Hansen because of the following salient attributes of the two of them and the firm:

Recent and relevant experience in New York City independent schools.
Access to a deep and diverse candidate pool.
Demonstrated commitment to equity and inclusion in the process and recommendation of candidates.
Adherence to a transparent and inclusive process that brings unity to the school community and involves all constituencies.
A clear schedule that will keep us on task with their guidance.
Excellence in all aspects of communications, including the writing of the Opportunity Statement which will describe our school and attract candidates.
Demonstrated capacity to achieve a deep understanding of our school culture, priorities, and leadership needs.
Excellent listeners and framers of questions.
Superb reference checks done by members of the Wickenden staff trained explicitly in this skill.
Accessibility and responsiveness.
Over 30 years of experience working with independent schools so Jim and Laura completely understand the educational landscape.
Patient, respectful, articulate, a sense of humor, and enthusiasm about serving BFS.
A clear understanding of the importance of the transition year and a plan to support the new Head of School.
A proven record of placing Heads of School that have long tenures.
We encourage you to visit their website for more information and to view the extensive experience of the firm (www.Wickenden.com).

On Monday and Tuesday, May 7 and 8, Jim and Laura will be on campus to have individual, small group, and open meetings to hear our voices and begin their work of understanding us,
and we want you to get to know them. We spoke with Jim and Laura yesterday to begin creating a schedule which will afford everyone an opportunity to see them. We will share the schedule shortly. These initial meetings and interviews will provide valuable insights and information about BFS for Jim and Laura as they begin thinking about appropriate candidates and preparing the Opportunity Statement, the description of our school and the leadership opportunity.

Within a few days, we will send to all members of the BFS community a link to a web-based, anonymous survey from Wickenden Associates so that each of you has the opportunity to share your thoughts in detail. The survey will enhance Jim and Laura’s understanding of BFS and inform the Opportunity Statement. If you cannot attend a meeting, this will be the way to make your voice heard, so please participate.

Finally, we will begin constituting the Search Committee with the guidance of Jim and Laura. We intended to wait until we had selected our consultants before creating a Search Committee so we could benefit from their wisdom. Necessarily the Search Committee will be limited in size, but we want to assure you that there will be ample opportunities as the process unfolds for the entire community to participate and provide feedback. Indeed, we are counting on community involvement so that BFS and Brooklyn shine for candidates! Our guiding principle is to make the process as open, inclusive, and transparent as possible. Our goal remains to find our next Head of School by mid-fall 2018.

We are at an important, forward-looking moment for BFS, and we ask all members of the community to share in charting what will be a very bright future for our beloved school. If you have any questions or comments, please address us at bfsboard@brooklynfriends.org.

In Peace,

Macon Jessop, Co-Clerk, Head of School Search Committee
Bill Morris, Co-Clerk, Head of School Search Committee

Friends,

Earlier, you received a communication from the Board of Trustees and Larry Weiss about Larry’s retirement in June 2019. We wanted to take this opportunity to let you know the next steps in the search process.

We will be following best practices for a Head of School search at Independent Schools. As you know, hiring the Head of School is a key responsibility of the Board of Trustees.

1) A search committee will be created and will be clerked by two members of the Board of Trustees, Macon Jessop (parent of an Upper School and Middle School student) and Bill Morris (former Head of School at Friends Academy).

2) Faculty, Staff and Administration will be represented on the search committee and the process for how this will be determined will be shared in the coming days.

3) A request for proposal has been written for the hiring of a search consultant who will work with the committee on identifying candidates.

We will continue to communicate as more details become available about the process.

In Friendship,

Ed Oliver, Co-Chair, Board of Trustees
Steve Burwell, Co-Chair, Board of Trustees
Macon Jessop, Co-Clerk of Head Search Committee
William Morris, Co-Clerk of Head Search Committee

Announcements Regarding Dr. Weiss' Retirement

It is with deepest gratitude that I was given the opportunity to return to Brooklyn Friends School in 2010 after a 31-year absence. I offer my most profound thanks to those students, graduates, faculty and staff members, parents, grandparents, and Trustees with whom I had the special pleasure to work over the past 8 years to achieve fulfillment of the highly ambitious goals of the 2008 and 2009 Strategic Plans for BFS.

The Strategic Plans called for massive, school-wide growth and improvements in facilities, financial condition, enrollment, curriculum, working conditions, student support, diversity and inclusion in student, faculty, and administrative constituencies, and the institution-wide commitment to strengthened Quaker values and practices.

The fulfillment of such ambitious goals would allow, and has in fact allowed, BFS to move from an environment of survival-mandated growth and development to long-term sustainability as a valued and respected member of the New York State Independent School, Friends Council on Education, and International Baccalaureate Organization constituencies.

The challenges of achieving simultaneous enrollment growth (increasing more than 40% over the past 8 years); comprehensive facilities improvement; and dramatic increases in capital and operational fund raising, all proved enormous.

So, too, did the development of new academic initiatives. These included, to name just a few, K-12 Spanish language instruction; moving from Community Service to a nationally-recognized Service Learning program; expanding our Family Center program for 2-year olds; and making a full commitment to the International Baccalaureate course curriculum for all 11th and 12th graders.

Such accomplishments could never have been achieved without the prodigious commitments of faculty and staff talent, energy, and follow-through along with the strong support of a generation of generous, supportive, and welcoming parents.

Having met such challenges, the BFS stage is now set to move from rapid expansion and growth to long-term sustainability. Such sustainability will require continuous improvement of school-wide academic programs and their delivery; a strengthened and endowed capital base; a comprehensive ongoing commitment to inclusion and social justice; and a student/faculty/parent culture that welcomes evolutionary change in a friendly and Friendly manner.

In my own life, as I embark on my seventh decade when I retire from my Head of School position in 2019, sustainability will mean returning to my greatest sources of joy–my growing family that will soon include three grandchildren–and the profession of teaching that I have continuously practiced since 1973 at the secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels. The life of the mind, and the love of working with creative, challenging, and dedicated student hearts and minds, will always beckon.

In friendship,

/Larry/

Dr. Larry Weiss
Head of School

It is with great respect, admiration, and regret that we want to inform the community that Dr. Larry Weiss will be retiring from his position as Head of School at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. Upon his arrival in 2010, Dr. Weiss took control of an ambitious new Strategic Plan. Since that time, he has guided our community through robust enrollment growth— re-visioning and moving the Family Center, adding many new students per grade, and overseeing the repurposing and modernization of 375 Pearl Street to accommodate that growth. Brooklyn Friends School is now one of the largest independent Quaker K-12 schools in the United States. Moreover, Dr. Weiss has expanded and consolidated our renowned International Baccalaureate Program in the Upper School to maintain Brooklyn Friends’ well-earned reputation for academic excellence.

In addition, Dr. Weiss presided over what, in retrospect, will surely be seen as his greatest challenge and triumph—acquiring, renovating, and opening the high school facility on Lawrence Street. As part of this effort, he led the school through a successful capital campaign, raising more than $7 million dollars.

Strategic plans can often be merely aspirational. But as even this cursory summary attests, Dr. Weiss has successfully stewarded our community as it gradually achieved each of the goals listed in the 2008 Strategic Plan, and then some. In short, the school we all know and love today owes much to his steady hand, deep experience, and sound judgment.

Some other notable accomplishments of Dr. Weiss’ are the establishment of the school’s first-ever Office of Diversity (now the Office of Equity and Inclusion), and his overseeing of the Quaker self-study in 2012 that made the understanding of Quakerism and its central role in the school more robust and universal. He also oversaw the school’s successful ten-year NYSAIS re-accreditation. All the while, Dr. Weiss maintained his connection to students by teaching Theory of Knowledge, a critical class that is part of the International Baccalaureate Program.

To be sure, Dr. Weiss’ accomplishments at Brooklyn Friends School are many. We would like to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to Larry for guiding our school over the last eight years.

In the coming 16 months, the Board, Dr. Weiss, and the community at large will work judiciously and diligently to find a successor who can continue his proud tradition. As Dr. Weiss’ transformative time at Brooklyn Friends comes to a close, we look forward to engaging the community in that vital effort, and to enthusiastically embarking with you on a new era and the many new exciting experiences it will bring. During that time, we also hope to find multiple opportunities—both big and small— to celebrate Dr. Weiss’ historic tenure.

We will be in touch to keep the community informed about the search process as we continue to celebrate our Sesquicentennial.

In Friendship,

Steve Burwell and Ed Oliver
Co-Chairs, Board of Trustees