7/30 Board Statement

July 29, 2021


Dear St. Dominic Academy community:

I am writing to update you on the search process now in place for the next head of school for St. Dominic Academy. We will be partnering with Mathew Heersche and Risa Oganesoff Heersche of Educational Directions (Portsmouth, RI) a nationally known and highly regarded independent school consulting firm, to work with us. Educational Directions has carried out a significant number of leadership searches for all types of quality independent schools throughout the country for the last 30 years. Mathew and Risa bring deep experience as educational leaders in Catholic education (including having worked at several Dominican sponsored schools) and as search professionals, as well as expertise and enthusiasm, to our search.

As noted in the previous communication, our initial focus is on selecting an interim head of school. We want to move forward as expeditiously as possible, yet provide enough time to do quality work in terms of recruiting and evaluating candidates for the interim head. Risa and Mathew have already begun searching for candidates for the interim position. They will be identifying and evaluating prospects based upon specific criteria that are guided by the opportunities for the interim head as well as the professional and personal qualities sought in this individual. Mathew and Risa will present a group of top-level candidates for the search committee’s review. There will be further evaluation and background checks and the search committee will identify several finalists. It is from this group that the search committee will select the individual whom they recommend to the Board and the Sisters of St. Dominic leadership for their review and approval. Our goal is to have the interim head in place before the start of the school year.

Once the interim head is selected, we will then move to the search for permanent head. This search is expected to take place throughout the fall and into the new year following the typical head of school search timeframe. An important step in the search for the permanent head is for our search professionals Mathew and Risa to begin the process of learning as much as possible about St. Dominic Academy. The search committee has had a preliminary meeting with them to review a wide range of topics as it relates to our search for new leadership. Risa and Mathew will also be reviewing data and materials that we will provide them. We also want to engage the St. Dominic community in this process. To that end, they are planning to conduct an onsite visit in September with all of the appropriate safety protocols. During their time with us, they will interview members of all stakeholder groups within the school (students, faculty, parents, administrators, alumnae, board members) to learn as much about the St. Dominic as possible and what we seek in our next leader. Among the key questions that they will ask of all of us are:

  • What makes St. Dominic Academy special, i.e. what differentiates us from other schools? 
  • What are St. Dominic’s aspirations? 
  • What are the perceived challenges and opportunities for the school at this time?

From all of the information gathered through this process, Mathew and Risa, with the search committee, will develop a position profile to be used as part of their overall marketing and recruitment efforts. We will, of course, share this document with all members of the St. Dominic Academy community once it is completed.

Our search professionals will be reaching out both locally and nationally. They will notify individual Catholic educational leaders, executive directors of educational and other organizations, a variety of Catholic educational leadership programs and regional school associations of our opening. Over the next few months, they will be identifying and evaluating top prospects.

Our goal is to ascertain a group of top-level candidates and then narrow that number down to five to seven individuals with whom the search committee will conduct interviews. From that group we will come up to three finalists who will be visiting us sometime in late January/early February 2022. There will be opportunities for school community members to meet each of the finalists. Upon completion of evaluation of all the data gathered (including deep reference checking) and deliberation, the committee will present its recommendation of their final selection to the board of trustees. Since St. Dominic is sponsored by the Dominican Sisters, the Sisters of St. Dominic leadership must also approve the head of school selection. Once this is complete, the board will make an announcement regarding the new head as soon as possible.

Our calendar calls for identification and engagement of the next head of St. Dominic Academy to be completed by the end of February 2022. There will be an organized transition process culminating with the individual commencing work on or about July 2022.

We will continue to provide updates for both the interim and permanent head searches. We thank you for your continued support of St. Dominic Academy.



Cathleen Callahan ’73

Board Chair