BFS
A Flurry of Family Fun at WinterFest - Sat. 12/1

Head of School Search

On November 13, 2018 the Board of Trustees appointed Crissy Cáceres as the 20th Head of Brooklyn Friends School. Read the announcement.

In June 2019, Dr. Larry Weiss will retire after 9 years as Head of School. The Board of Trustees established a search committee which included stakeholders of the BFS community and retained a leading education search firm, Wickenden Associates.

In September, the Search Committee interviewed semifinalists at Brooklyn Friends School and in October, three finalists visited the School. Each finalist’s visit included two days of meetings and open sessions with faculty, staff, parents, students and others in our community. Feedback on each finalist was collected from all constituents through online surveys.

News

Friends,

We are writing with exciting news about the Head of School search. The Search Committee met with our semi-finalist candidates this past weekend, and, after careful reflection and discernment, we reached unity on our three Finalists. We were able to have candid, thoughtful, and reflective conversations with each candidate and also allow for them to ask questions to glean a better understanding of BFS and our Quaker mission, the leadership opportunity and challenges, and Brooklyn. In the spirit of fairness, balance, and transparency, all candidates were asked the same questions which the Search Committee crafted, and we explored all aspects of their leadership qualities and personal and professional journeys, especially their aspirations to live and lead in a Quaker community. We thank Laura Hansen and Jim Wickenden for providing us with a deep, inclusive, and dynamic group of candidates, and the Search Committee is confident about the uniqueness and strengths of our Finalists. And, of course, you will soon get to meet each of them!

While the candidates are in the process of communicating within their own school communities about their plans, we are still holding their names in confidence. You will receive each name, a brief bio, and details of the two-day schedule just prior to the visit. The candidates will be at BFS on the following dates:

Candidate #1: October 11 and 12, Thursday and Friday
Candidate #2: October 15 and 16, Monday and Tuesday
Candidate #3: October 17 and 18, Wednesday and Thursday

During the visits, each candidate will meet with all constituencies in the BFS community, either individually or in small groups and larger forums. Please avail yourself of the opportunity to meet them and offer feedback. We are counting on you to have candid, thoughtful, and respectful exchanges with each Finalist so that you can submit substantive comments, all of which the Search Committee will see in anonymous and unedited form. Further, the visit allows the candidates to meet our wonderful community, and we want each to leave feeling, “I want to be at BFS!” Your welcoming participation will make a difference in who becomes our next Head of school.

To facilitate your feedback, we are using an online survey for each candidate. The survey is available on the password-protected BFS website dashboard. The names of each candidate will appear on the first day of the visit, and we will send a reminder with the link before each candidate arrives. Please submit your feedback as soon as possible after each visit, but no later than the end of the day on Saturday, October 20. Wickenden Associates will then collate your thoughts for the Search Committee.

The Search Committee will reconvene early in the week of October 22 to review and discuss all the materials about each Finalist, and your input will be essential to our Quaker discernment process as we seek unity on the candidate we will recommend to the Board of Trustees as the next Head of School for BFS. Please understand that there will be a quiet period while we make the offer and settle the details before informing the BFS community. Our goal remains to announce the next Head of School for Brooklyn Friends in early November.

We thank you in advance for all you will do to help us find the right person to lead us forward. We also ask that you thank your colleagues and friends on the Search Committee. Their work has been nothing short of dedicated, inspirational, and selfless. These are exciting, uplifting, and hopeful times for our school, and we ask that each of you hold each other and our community in the Light as we take these critical final steps in discovering our new Head of School. As always, please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

In Peace,

Macon Jessop and Bill Morris, Co-Clerks of the Head of School Search Committee

An excerpt from a letter to the community from the Board of Trustees on September 21, 2018:

After Laura Hansen and Jim Wickenden, our search consultants, visited our school for two days in May and met with many different constituencies, they prepared the Opportunity Statement for the Head of School (HOS) position in consultation with the Board. If you have not seen or read this yet, please do so at this link so that you can see how our school is presented and the leadership opportunity framed. During the summer, the consultants actively recruited, cultivated, and interviewed potential candidates and conducted initial reference checks.

Macon Jessop and Bill Morris, Co-Clerks of the HOS Search Committee, stayed in regular communication with them to monitor the process. Macon and Bill are excited about the depth, diversity, and experience of our candidate pool. Jim and Laura sent the Search Committee comprehensive credentials for the twenty candidates that they are recommending as potential Semi-Finalists. Earlier this month, the Search Committee participated in a workshop led by Diane Goodman on unconscious bias in hiring.

As part of the process, the Search Committee selects up to eight Semi-Finalists, who will then visit BFS on September 29 and 30 for interviews. At the end of those two days, the Search Committee will engage in a careful process of reflection and discernment to choose our three or four Finalists, who will then return to school in early to mid-October for two-day visits. These visits will also be the opportunity for the community to meet our Finalists, ask questions, and offer feedback to inform the final decision-making process. Please keep an eye out for more details about visits by the Finalists, and your opportunity to meet them.

Our goal is to select our next Head of School by early November. At this time we want to clarify why the search process will remain confidential within the Search Committee until the selection of Finalists (this is described in the Opportunity Statement). This is common practice in HOS searches in order to protect the confidentiality of candidates. Candidates who are sitting heads, or in other positions, may not want their whole school communities to find out that they are looking, so they may not enter a search where they do not have a guarantee of confidentiality until the Finalist round.

As is the case with most other academic institutions, the HOS is the only position at BFS that the Board of Trustees has ultimate responsibility for hiring and replacing. We are committed to conducting an open, transparent and inclusive process and as such, have formed a Search Committee with representation from all divisions as well as all constituencies within the school. The Finalist stage will be fully open and transparent within the BFS community. We all have the same goal – to follow a process that will bring the best possible candidate to BFS as our next HOS and to achieve a sense of unity around that choice – and we know that you will collaborate with us to reach that goal.

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

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.
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.

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

Search Committee Members

  • 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

Announcements Regarding Dr. Weiss' Retirement

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

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