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Armstrong School

 

 

 

 

Head of School Search 

August 26, 2020

 

Dear Armstrong Families, Faculty, Staff, Alumni & Friends,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am pleased to announce that Neil Tuch, our current Assistant Head of School and Chief Financial Officer, will become the ninth Head of Charles Armstrong School starting July 1, 2021.  The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to hire Neil after a thorough search and an enthusiastic recommendation by the Search Committee.
After an extensive search, Neil emerged as the clear best choice to guide Armstrong's next chapter and implement our recently completed 5-year strategic plan.  The plan is ambitious and exciting:
1) Expand and deliver our program with excellence
2) Prioritize an outstanding work experience for faculty and staff
3) Strive to be an inclusive school community
4) Increase awareness of Armstrong through greater marketing and outreach efforts
5) Address short and long-term space needs

Neil is a proven leader, an effective manager and trusted team builder.  He has a track record of success both at Armstrong and previously in leadership roles in the private sector and not-for-profit organizations.  Importantly, he is surrounded by -- and knows how to partner with --  a best-in-class academic program team with a deep bench of experts in dyslexic education.  He is uniquely suited to build upon our strengths and internal momentum while tackling external challenges with his strategic thinking, marketing and fundraising capabilities.  

Most importantly, Neil truly embodies our Armstrong values.   He oozes the same "enthusiastic optimism" that our founder, Dr. Wilbur Mattison, infused into every corner of Charles Armstrong School.  Neil is deeply invested in our mission and leads with empathy having experienced Armstrong as a proud parent of a recent Armstrong graduate and as our highly effective Assistant Head of School and CFO.  He believes in our talented, inspiring students and has a deep, personal understanding of how Armstrong changes the trajectory of their lives.
Now in his fourth year on the Armstrong Leadership Team, Neil's contributions to our school have been significant.  He was a key player in developing our strategic plan.  He has tangibly helped enhance our school culture and demonstrated results in improving faculty and staff well-being.  He took on the task of improving our traffic and safety operations, while also strengthening relations with the city of Belmont. He supervised multiple capital improvement projects and leads our Buildings & Grounds Committee.  Finally, he improved our financial health as well as business processes and capabilities.

Prior to joining Armstrong, Neil co-founded the San Francisco office for H.I.G. Capital.  His professional career includes time at Summit Partners, McKinsey & Company and Goldman Sachs.  He has a life-long commitment to not-for-profit work, founding New York Shares, and serving on the boards of the Jewish Community Relations Council of SF, the Mountain View-Los Altos High School Foundation, and Congregation Beth Am.  Neil holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was awarded the Horace W. Goldsmith Fellowship for outstanding contribution to a not-for-profit, and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Neil, his wife Dr. Adrienne Tuch, and their three daughters are excited for this next stage in their Armstrong journey.

Search Committee Process

The Board of Trustees' sole employee is the Head of School, and the Board has full responsibility to hire, support and assess the Head.  Last January, Armstrong's Board delegated the Head of School search to the Search Committee, which then launched a thorough and professional search.  As part of this search, the Search Committee met with faculty members, staff, the Leadership Team, parents, students, and other Armstrong partners to solicit input and feedback which informed the process and the final decision.

I want to thank Katie Storey, Chair of the Search Committee and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees; my fellow Search Committee members; and consultant Dr. Mary Seppala with Educators' Collaborative, for their dedication to this process.  This group was committed to following best practices and worked tirelessly to find the best fit for our school.
 
  • The process began with creation of a position statement based broad input from our community and careful consideration of the school's mission, values and priorities.  
  • Our search cast a wide and inclusive net.  After recruiting and vetting dozens of potential candidates, Educators' Collaborative interviewed fourteen formal applicants and presented the most qualified candidates to the Search Committee.  
  • The Search Committee was pleased with the candidate pool and interviewed the candidates whom we considered to possess the professional and personal characteristics desired in our next Head of School. 
  • After two rounds of interviews, extensive internal and external reference checking, and thoughtful deliberation with counsel from Educators' Collaborative, the Search Committee unanimously voted to recommend  Neil Tuch to the full Board.  
 
Neil's intelligence, experience, growth mindset, enthusiastic optimism, dedication, integrity and love for Armstrong resonated with every member of the Search Committee. Once the Search Committee assessed all the candidates, we determined that Neil was the very best match with our specification.  His distinctive skill set is highly complementary to our Leadership Team and well-matched to our strategic plan.  Also, Neil is well-known to our community, and uniquely offers both continuity and an informed commitment to improvement.  After further discussion and with the counsel of Educators' Collaborative and another round of interviews, the Board of Trustees voted to offer Neil the position.

Going Forward
The Board of Trustees will host community forums with Neil this Fall via Zoom.  All faculty, administrators, staff and parents are welcome. Details to follow. 

Over the course of the next year, Neil will partner with Jessica Miller to ensure a seamless transition of leadership.  The Board will also launch a Transition Committee which will support Neil and celebrate Jessica during this exciting year.  Jessica remains Head of School through June 30, 2021, with full responsibility and authority.  

Please join me in congratulating Neil and in celebrating Jessica's many accomplishments, notable among them her creating the opportunity for Neil that helped us get to this point. Kudos to them both!

For further details on the search process and Head of School selection, please refer to the Search FAQs.  We welcome your questions and feedback.  Please email me at mbethspringer@gmail.com or Katie at katie_crocker@yahoo.com. Finally, a message from Neil follows this letter.

With warm regards,
Beth Springer
Chair, Board of Trustees
 
 

A Message from our In-Coming Head of School

Dear fellow members of the Armstrong community,
 
Words cannot describe how deeply honored and humbled I am to be named Armstrong's next Head of School. 
 
When my wife Adrienne and I walked our youngest daughter, Skylar, to Armstrong's second grade classroom in the Fall of 2012, we were so relieved to have found a partner to address her dyslexia, but so nervous about the journey and work that lay ahead.  The next seven years weren't a straight road, there were twists and turns...ups and down.  But, when Skylar graduated in 2019, she left Armstrong, headed for St. Francis High School, happy, confident and prepared.  My wish is to create that same, wonderful outcome for every one of our students and their families.
 
When I joined Armstrong's team in March 2017, I was able to glimpse behind the curtain on Skylar's journey.  I found teachers so dedicated to teaching students with learning differences that they commute hours a day.  I found staff who have built not only careers here, but also view their colleagues as family and Armstrong as their home.  People talk about the Armstrong "magic," but behind that magic is educational expertise and a lot of hard working, caring people.
 
Our team has accomplished a lot during the time I've been at Armstrong.  The educational program is as strong as ever.  We figured out more ways to show our faculty and staff how much they are appreciated and loved.  We are working toward a healthier and more inclusive culture.  We've begun wrestling with questions around Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.  We've risen to the challenge of this horrible pandemic and delivered a remote educational program of which to be proud.
 
Armstrong is a great school...and we can be better.   As the incoming Head of School, I will bring a measure of continuity while insisting we continue to reach for higher aspirations.  We will always lead with educational excellence for the dyslexic learner - and I look forward to working with our outstanding educators to evaluate our programs and look for opportunities to improve and expand them.  We will work to retain and attract the amazing faculty and staff that drive that educational excellence.  We will shape not only capable students, but strong human beings, who learn to recognize social and racial injustice and advocate for others as well as they advocate for themselves.  I have very high expectations for our students and believe we can give them the confidence and skills to meet those expectations.
 
While I may not be an educator by training, my love for education comes naturally and has made its way through my family.  My mother was a high school biology teacher before my birth interrupted her career.  My oldest daughter, Bayley, will graduate from Penn next spring and has a teaching offer with Teach for America in New York City.  My second oldest daughter, Lexi, interned with the rising Armstrong fifth-graders and attends Vanderbilt's Peabody College of Education and Human Development.  Adrienne hasn't pursued education - but as a pediatrician she's been "teaching" children and families for almost 25 years (and is occasionally Ms. Fabela's school health consultant).   
 
I want to thank Jessica and our Leadership Team - Cynthia, De Shan, Katie, Mariah and Sarah - for their support and exceptional work that has opened the door to this opportunity.  I appreciate the Board and Search Committee's time, challenging questions, and backing.  Last, but certainly not least, thank you to my parents, Marlene and Gerald, and my family for their unending love and encouragement. 
 
Student and families, please introduce or reintroduce yourselves to me when we finally cross paths again.  Alumni, alumni families, donors, and other friends of Armstrong, I welcome the chance to engage with you and thank you for your ongoing support of our mission.  And to my Armstrong colleagues, I couldn't be more thrilled to continue our journey together.
 
In closing, my thoughts are truly with all of you who have suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing racial injustice, and our recent fires - may you find safety and peace.
 
Best wishes,
Neil



Information for Candidates April 2020

Dear Charles Armstrong School Community,                                                                    March 22, 2020

These are unprecedented times for our kids, our school, our community, and our world.  We are grateful to our patient, committed faculty and staff who are working tirelessly to maintain learning for our students.  We recognize the "shelter at home" order has led to a very new normal for all of us, which will continue to unfold in the weeks ahead.

We are doing what we can to push the Head of School Search process forward, accessing virtual communication.  Gaining broad input from our community on what we need in our next Head of School is a priority.  Thank you to the 170 of you who responded to our survey.  We would also like to offer virtual input sessions with Search Consultant Mary Seppala.  

Faculty/staff/administrators will have a Zoom session with Mary during this Wednesday's Staff Meeting, 1:45-2:30 pm.

Parents and other community members are invited to Zoom into any one of three offered Zoom sessions this Thursday, March 26:

I am also pleased to share that we have assembled a very strong and committed group of Armstrong trustees, faculty and staff to serve on our Head of School Search Committee.  Each of them brings a unique blend of experience and talent and each is fully committed to finding the right leader for our school.

Search Committee

Betsy Berman

Secretary, Armstrong Board of Trustees, Chief Advancement & Strategy Officer,

Crystal Springs Uplands School

Kim Bottoms

Armstrong Board of Trustees, Current Parent

Rachael Cunningham   

Armstrong Instructional Coach

Laura Fabela

Armstrong Student Services Assistant

Mark Moore

Armstrong Board of Trustees, Current Parent

David Obershaw

Former Chair, Armstrong Board of Trustees, Alumni Parent

Adolfo Reidel

Armstrong Board of Trustees, Current & Alumni Parent

Beth Springer

Chair, Armstrong Board of Trustees, Alumni Parent

Katie Storey

Vice Chair, Armstrong Board of Trustees, Current Parent

 

The Search Committee is responsible for steering the search process with guidance and support from our search consultant.  The committee will compile information from Armstrong's varied constituencies to create a school Leadership Profile.  The profile will serve as a tool to describe the Head of School position to potential candidates.  The Search Committee will review the initial round of candidates vetted by the search firm and will then conduct interviews with the semifinalists and finalists.  At the end of the process, the committee will recommend a final candidate to be voted on by the Board of Trustees.  Upon confirmation of a candidate, the committee will facilitate the leadership transition and integration into the school.  A key role of the Search Committee is to keep the Armstrong community informed and engaged throughout the search process, while respecting the confidentiality of the candidate recruitment process.

As always, please reach out to me with any questions or comments at any time at kstorey@charlesarmstrong.org.

All my best, 

Katie Storey
Vice Chair, Board of Trustees
Chair, Head of School Search Committee

 


March 10, 2020

Dear Charles Armstrong Community,

In light of the unprecedented Coronavirus situation, we have made the decision to cancel this week's visit from our Head of School Search Consultant and cancel the on-campus community meetings originally scheduled for Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.  This approach is consistent with the school's decision to limit visitors to campus and the County Health offices guidance to postpone "non-essential gatherings."

We remain committed to receiving input from all Armstrong stakeholders and value community-wide participation in this process.  Please stay tuned for information regarding future virtual input sessions with Search Consultant, Mary Seppala.  In addition, please ensure you take the community-wide survey:


https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7PWLZGN

Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we navigate this important process.  As always, please contact me directly at kstorey@charlesarmstrong.org at any point to share thoughts, questions, concerns or feedback. 

 

With Gratitude,

Katie Storey
Vice Chair, Board of Trustees
Chair, Head of School Search Committee



March 8, 2020

Dear Charles Armstrong Community,

We greatly value your input in the Head of School Search Process.  If you have not yet completed the online survey, please do so by tomorrow, March 9:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7PWLZGN

As previously communicated, students will not be on campus this Wednesday.  However, our search consultant Mary Seppala is still looking forward to her visit this Wed-Thurs, March 11-12.  We will still be holding two community sessions in the Armstrong multipurpose room:

Wednesday, March 11, 5-6 pm

Thursday, March 12, 8:30-9:30 am

Current parents and members of our community are invited to attend and we hope you will come. There is no need to rsvp.  Your input will be invaluable to Mary's understanding of and, thus, representation of our school to promising candidates.  In addition to the community survey, which has already brought in over 70 responses, the meetings will give a more intimate view of the professional and student life at the school.  Mary's full meeting schedule is listed below.

As always, please contact me directly at katie_crocker@yahoo.com at any point to share thoughts, questions, concerns or feedback. 

 

Best regards,

Katie Storey
Vice Chair, Board of Trustees
Chair, Head of School Search Committee

 

Search Consultant's Campus Visit
 
March 11-12, 2020

 

Wednesday, 3/11
 
2:30-3:30          Faculty/Staff meeting in the Multi
 
3:30-4:30          Leadership team 1:1 meetings
 
5:00-6:00          Parent/Community meeting in the Multi (for those who prefer evenings)

 

Thursday, 3/12
 
8:30-9:30       Parent/Community meeting in the Multi (for those who prefer mornings)
 
10:00-11:30    Leadership team 1:1 meetings
 
11:30-12:15    Student Council Lunch 
 
1:00-3:00        Administration 1:1 meetings
 
3:00-4:00       Search Committee meeting
 
6:30-8:00       Board of Trustees meeting



March 3, 2020

Dear Charles Armstrong Community Members,

We are excited to move into the next phase of our Head of School search. After interviewing a number of search firms, the Board has engaged Mary Seppala with Educators' Collaborative to assist us in conducting a comprehensive national search for the next Head of Charles Armstrong School. The new Head will assume leadership in July 2021.

While the Board of Trustees is ultimately responsible for hiring the Head of School, the process begins with the formation of a Search Committee comprised of community members who are entrusted with the task of engaging in every aspect of the search.  The Search Committee formation is currently underway.

The Search Committee's role is as follows:

  • To gather information from the community regarding the leadership qualifications and personal attributes desired in the next Head of School
  • To work with the Educators' Collaborative consultant and review dossiers, conduct confidential interviews and reference checks, and to determine the candidates best qualified to be introduced to the Charles Armstrong community
  • To review feedback from community members
  • To recommend a candidate to the Board of Trustees to be hired as the next Head of School 
  • To begin the initial step of gathering community input, you are asked to please complete the survey below by clicking on the link provided. The survey will be open for response until Monday, March 9, 2020.


https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7PWLZGN 

The second opportunity to engage in the search is to attend a community meeting with the search consultant. During this meeting the survey results will be reviewed, the search process discussed, and an opportunity for further community input provided.  The on-campus community meeting schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 5:00-6:00 pm
 
Thursday, March 12, 2020, 8:30-9:30 am
 
Faculty and Staff will have their own session on Wednesday afternoon.
 
We look forward to your input as we navigate our future leadership change and thank you for the many ways you support Charles Armstrong.

 

Sincerely,
Beth Springer                                                              Katie Storey
Chair, Board of Trustees                                             Vice-Chair, Board of Trustees,
                                                                                    Chair Search Committee                                                                                         
 

 

February 4, 2020

Dear Charles Armstrong School Community,

Our Head of School Jessica Miller has shared her intention to conclude her headship at the end of our next school year, in June 2021.   On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to express our heartfelt gratitude to Jessica for her years of dedication, excellent leadership, and unwavering commitment to our school.  Jessica’s consideration in providing this advance notice is best practice in independent schools and enables us to prepare for this transition in leadership.

When the Board of Trustees met Jessica in 2015, her passion for Armstrong’s mission and our program led her to an unexpected new chapter in her long and distinguished career.  Relocating from her home in Rhode Island to California, Jessica at once began to work tirelessly on behalf of our students, faculty and staff, and entire community. Her work over the past five years has exceeded the expectations of the Board of Trustees. Her wisdom, dedication, and extraordinary commitment to teamwork, community, partnership and innovation have taken Armstrong to new heights. Jessica’s accomplishments are many, and perhaps her most enduring legacy will be our exceptional team of faculty and staff who are not only highly capable but also truly inspired. Jessica’s leadership has brought us improvements in faculty support and professional development and created a model of continuous improvement; new diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; and a stronger culture of trust. These changes, along with numerous curriculum and other program upgrades, have significantly enhanced the value of an Armstrong education.  

The selection of our next Head of School is the Board of Trustee’s highest priority and most important responsibility.  Our Search Committee will be led by Katie Storey who is the current Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, a former CAPSO Co-Chair, and a proud parent of an Armstrong student. The Board has retained a well-qualified search consultant, Dr. Mary Seppala of Educators Collaborative, to help guide the process and facilitate input from our community. Mary is the search consultant who worked with us to bring Jessica to our school and brings her personal experience as a former Head of School and teacher as well as a parent of a dyslexic child to this important work. The Board is committed to a search process that is as inclusive and transparent as possible to the entire school community. In this spirit, we will soon provide more information on the details of the process on our website.

Charles Armstrong School enters this search process in an advantaged position and with ample time.  We have a clear and compelling mission, great students, exceptional faculty and staff, an excellent program, supportive and engaged parents, and a healthy financial position.  Also, we have recently approved a strategic plan that will build on our current strengths and address new opportunities. Jessica and the Board look forward to sharing more with you about our strategic plan this spring. We believe, and our search consultant agrees, that our school’s strengths and this clear strategic roadmap will allow us to attract highly qualified candidates to serve as our next Head of School and continue our tradition of excellence in serving our students and families.

There will be many opportunities to celebrate Jessica as we near her departure at the end of June 2021.  For now, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, I offer Jessica our great appreciation for all she has done and will do for our school in the next 17 months of her headship and thank all of you for your continued support. 

Sincerely,

Beth Springer

Chair, Board of Trustees, Charles Armstrong School

A Letter from Jessica Robins Miller

February 5, 2020

Dear Armstrong Community,

It was with mixed and heartfelt emotions that I let the Board of Trustees know that next year (2020-2021), will be my last year as Head of Charles Armstrong School.   

My decision was not an easy one. I absolutely love leading this incredible community of students, families, faculty and staff. I make this announcement with a deep sense of appreciation for having the opportunity to lead our nationally recognized school for six full years, and for the people who have come into my life as a result.  It has been a privilege to work with our faculty, staff, families and community members on behalf of our students. Together we continue our efforts to unlock the unique potential of every dyslexic child.  Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this work. 

The Board recently approved a new five-year strategic plan, culminating two years of thoughtful and comprehensive work involving the Board, the Leadership Team and many members of our community, including faculty and staff, current and past parents, and members of the wider community. The Leadership Team and I could not be more supportive of the goals that are set, and I look forward to the next 17 months as we launch the plan and lay the foundation for the next 50 years of the school and the next generation of dyslexic learners.

The strategic plan has 5 major goals, with each goal having multiple objectives. Most of our goals are well underway. The full strategic plan will be communicated in the spring, but the broad goals are:  

  • Goal #1: Expand and Deliver our Program with Excellence
  • Goal #2: Prioritize an Outstanding Work Experience for Faculty and Staff
  • Goal #3: Strive to be an Inclusive School Community
  • Goal #4: Increase Awareness of Armstrong Through Greater Marketing and Outreach Efforts
  • Goal #5: Address Short and Long-Term Space Needs

Armstrong is in a strong programmatic and financial state, which is the best position to be in as we embark on the next five years. In addition, we have an outstanding Board of Trustees and Leadership Team who have the expertise, passion and dedication to steer the plan forward with success. 

I am passionate about education that is life changing, and it is a privilege to serve as the Head of a school where students are learning and growing, families are strong partners, the faculty and staff are outstanding, creative and dedicated, and the Leadership stewards the school with a strong sense of purpose, responsibility, thoughtfulness and excellence.

The Board and Search Committee are committed to a smooth transition to the next Head of School. I look forward to the second half of this year and the full 2020-2021 year knowing that the work we do continues to change the trajectory of the lives of our students and their families.

As for what is next for me? June 2021 is a long way away. At the moment, I am concentrating on continuing to lead our school in the same way I have done since 2015, while building the foundation of our strategy work and working closely with the Board to ensure a seamless transition to the next Head of School. As the time gets closer, I will be exploring the next chapter of my professional life, which will definitely include working with children who learn differently and their families.  

With deep gratitude,

Jessica Miller

We'd love to hear
from you!

Charles Armstrong School
1405 Solana Drive
Belmont, CA 94002

Main Line: 650-592-7570

The following is an extensions list:

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Fax: 650-591-3114