Head of SchoolWe are excited to announce our new Head of School, Roel Mason-Vivit, has joined the Park Day School community! For nearly 40 years, Park Day School has been a leader in progressive education... A place where deep, joyful learning; social justice; social, emotional and intellectual growth; and creative self-expression are central to our mission and practice. We we look forward to Roel's leadership for years to come.
The Board is delighted to announce: Roel Mason-Vivit is our new Head of School!
Roel joined us in August after relocating from Chicago, where he co-founded the Polaris Charter Academy. Roel led Polaris with his founding partner, and was Director of Academics for the past 9 years. With Roel's leadership, Polaris quickly become a nationally recognized teaching institute as a Mentor School for the Expeditionary Learning National Network. In addition to his work at Polaris, Roel has served as a teacher-trainer in Chicago, Singapore, Shanghai, Baltimore and Krakow, Poland among, other locations.
Roel's selection represents the culmination of an extensive and exhaustive global search, with the help and guidance of one of the most experienced and successful school leadership search firms in the world, Carney Sandoe and Associates. Our first round applicants included dozens of interested parties. The committee selected 10 semi-finalists to invite to campus for interviews in August. After these visits and thorough deliberations, the committee invited Roel and two other candidates back to Park Day for two days each of meals, meetings and interviews with the committee, students, faculty, staff and families. This intense process led our Search Committee to recommend Roel to our Board of Trustees with great enthusiasm.
It was clear from the details of our meetings with him and his glowing references that Roel is a visionary, with a pragmatic ability to inspire teams to turn vision into reality. Throughout the process, Roel proved to be warm, approachable and down-to-earth. The committee found it easy to see that his calm confidence would help him to be a diplomatic collaborator and consensus-seeker here at Park Day.
We learned he is an effective leader, decisive administrator, and an amazing teacher motivator. In his curricular leadership role at Polaris, Roel facilitated expanding the boundaries of the classroom. For example, he developed plans, secured funding and inspired teachers to lead groups of students across the city to interview community activists and create a book, Peacekeepers of Chicago. Another group of students visited Birmingham, Alabama to do civil rights work, and another went to Shanghai to do environmental work that included the construction of rooftop gardens.
Feedback from Park Day's teachers, staff, parents and guardians revealed the community's enthusiasm for Roel's capacity to expand Park Day's position as a leader in progressive education. Parents envisioned the continued growth of our program, a stronger connection to our local community, and new methods for encouraging student leadership. The community loved his presence of mind, humility and ease at creating connections with whomever he met. The teacher/staff survey feedback revealed Roel to be a "teacher's teacher;" they had confidence that Roel's emotional intelligence and leadership style would blend quickly and effectively with Park Day School's culture.
At Park Day School our values include progressive, child-centered, experiential learning, social-emotional well-being, diversity, social justice, environmental stewardship and academic preparedness. We are an active, informed and engaged community of learners. We are deeply aware of our social and political reality, and our position within it. We are enormously pleased to welcome an individual who is the embodiment of our values.Please join us in welcoming Roel. We are excited to have him join the Park Day School community!
In community,Tanya MayoChair of the Board of TrusteesCornelia SylvesterBoard TrusteeChair of the HOS Search CommitteeBackground on Our World-wide SearchIn April 2016, the Park Day Board of Trustees embarked on a Head of School search. The search process presents a wonderful opportunity for our community to articulate the school’s strengths, and achieve our vision for the future.
The Board hired Bob Fricker, a consultant from Carney, Sandoe and Associates to assist us in the search. During a recent campus visit, Bob met with over 100 members of our community including parents, staff, teachers, founders, board trustees, search committee members, former parents and alumni. The perspectives shared during the campus visit coupled with information gathered from the community survey will be used to inform a Position Description.Here is an Overview of the Process
- Form Search Committee (COMPLETE)
- Consultant visits campus to meet with Park Day community members. (teachers, staff, alumnae, founding teachers, current families) (COMPLETE)
- Solicit feedback via Community Survey (COMPLETE)
- Complete Position Description (COMPLETE)
- Recruiting Period (COMPLETE)
- Search Committee works with Consultant to select and interview semi-finalist candidates (COMPLETE)
- Finalists visit Park Day School to tour the campus, classrooms and meet members of the community (COMPLETE)
- Members of the community provide feedback on each finalist (COMPLETE)
- Search Committee meets to recommend top candidate to the Board (COMPLETE)
- Board votes on Search Committee's recommendation (COMPLETE)
- Announcement of Head of School-Elect to the community (COMPLETE)
- Park Day School community welcomes new Head of School
Meet the Search Committee:Natalia Lopez Whitaker (Board Trustee and Vice-Chair elect)
Tanya Mayo (Board Chair elect, 2016-2018)
Ilya Pratt (PDS Design+Make+Engage Program Director)
Noam Ragins (Board Trustee)
Hasain Rasheed (Community Member)
Timnah Steinman (PDS Middle School Teacher)
Cornelia Sylvester (Board Trustee, Search Committee Chair)