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Head of School Transition

Jenn Lindsay
In April, Peter York announced his intention to retire as Head of School at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year. We are extremely grateful for his steadfast devotion to James River Day School and his many contributions to our school during his tenure.
 
Through the efforts of the Board of Trustees, the Search Committee, The Education Group (a recruiter for independent schools retained by the Board), and all the various school constituents who participated in the search process, a new Head of School has been selected: Mrs. Jenn Lindsay. 
An independent school is a complex enterprise, and James River is no different.  The Head of School has to serve multiple constituencies--students, faculty and staff, parents, Board of Trustees, and alumni--and has multiple areas of responsibility. The Head, as the CEO, is ultimately responsible for every aspect of the school. As Harry Truman famously said, “the buck stops here.” That is a daunting task to me, even after having worked here for 15 years. 
As I complete my tenure as Head of School in the coming months and reflect on all that has been accomplished, it is also a time to look ahead and plan for an exciting future for James River Day School. A major part of that planning is the transition of leadership from me to Jenn Lindsay, our next Head of School. The transition is a critical element for the success of a new head as they deal with all the complexities of this new role. Ultimately the transition is about the people. A thoughtful, well-planned, and supportive transition, focused on relationship building, is so important for all constituencies.
 
In partnership with the Board of Trustees, a Transition Committee has been formed to provide broad oversight of the transition process, from the time of Mrs. Lindsay’s appointment through her first full year. Our short-term goals, in the coming months, are to provide Mrs. Lindsay with the support, information, and relationship-building necessary for her success.
 
Mrs. Lindsay’s first visit to Lynchburg and James River Day School is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, February 9 and 10. She will gather information and begin to build relationships in the community. She is excited to see everyone around the school and to attend basketball games and the second-grade musical performance. We are looking forward to having her on campus!
 
The future continues to be bright for James River!
 
With my best regards,
 
Peter H. York
Head of School
 
Listed below are the members of the Transition Committee. Don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the committee members should you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns. 
Kristen O’Neill - Board of Trustees, Chair of the Transition Committee
Swathi Prabhu - Board of Trustees
Jennifer Wills - Board of Trustees
Sarah Lesko - Administration
Maryanna Stands - Administration
Gessi Wright- Faculty
Betsy Layne- Faculty
Jasper Oliver- Faculty
Reenu Alappat - Parents’ Association
November 18, 2022

Dear James River Day School Families,
 
I am beyond excited to serve as James River Day School’s ninth Head of School. I met with many parents, grandparents, faculty, trustees, and students during my campus visit. I immediately felt at home at JRDS.
 
In my twenty years in independent schools, I have been fortunate to be a part of extraordinary school communities. Yet as I move into the next phase of school leadership, I feel compelled to serve a community that provides stellar academic opportunities and feels connected and joyful. Visiting James River reaffirmed my belief that being a part of a K-8 school is a magical experience that allows for the full breadth of childhood. I am thrilled to be reconnecting with a lower school experience again. As I said in my parent meetings, I am consistently impressed by the strength of the James River community; James River truly lives up to its mission.
 
I look forward to getting to know each of you and partnering with you during my transition while I become immersed in the history, culture, and values of James River. I look forward to opportunities to connect with you, to strive to provide the best education we can in a safe, inclusive environment, and to leverage James River’s strengths for the future. Thank you for being a part of the fabric of JRDS and allowing us to help build the foundations for character and academic growth.
 
I look forward to leading James River Day School well into its next fifty years. More importantly, I can’t wait to be a part of next year’s Thankful Hearts celebration to see if we can collect even more cans for the Lynchburg community. I am in awe of your generosity in raising almost 12,000 cans this year!
 
Thank you for your trust. It will be a joy to be a Cardinal.
 
With gratitude,
Jenn
Dear James River Day School Community,
    
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, it is my great pleasure to announce Jenn Lindsay’s appointment as our ninth Head of School, effective July 1, 2023. The Board’s unanimous decision to select Mrs. Lindsay followed the enthusiastic and unanimous recommendation of the Search Committee. 
 
Mrs. Lindsay will succeed Mr. Peter York, who will retire in June 2023 after serving the James River Day School community for fifteen years. Mr. York and his team will work closely with Mrs. Lindsay in the months ahead to ensure a seamless transition of leadership.
 
Mrs. Lindsay’s twenty years of experience in independent schools include teaching and administrative roles in K-8th grade institutions in her home state of Florida, as well as her current role as Head of the Middle School at The Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her considerable and diverse experience mirrors the qualifications our entire community desired in its next Head of School and showcases skill and expertise in areas that dovetail with James River Day School’s strategic plan. 
 
Described as a “joyful educator” with extensive knowledge of her entire school community, Mrs. Lindsay cares deeply about kids and education and delights in knowing students not only by name but as individuals. She is a collaborative leader, experienced in shaping curriculum and mentoring teachers. In her current role, Mrs. Lindsay has facilitated tremendous growth in academic and extracurricular offerings, while contributing to an impressive expansion in middle school enrollment., Her involvement in successful capital campaigns has also supported the development of new initiatives in STEM and fine arts curricula.
 
As a history teacher, Mrs. Lindsay found that storytelling served as a powerful tool to connect with and engage her students. She has relied upon this skill to effectively forge relationships with teachers, parents, and community members. In her words, “connecting folks to the magic of the K-8 experience” and recognizing that “young students need to grow, move, and create as part of their learning” allowed her to empower teachers to reimagine their teaching. 
 
Mrs. Lindsay’s leadership and professional development education extend to a national level, with specific emphasis in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and as a National Association for Independent Schools (NAIS) Aspiring Heads Fellow. This spring she has been asked to present on the topic of rebuilding community post-pandemic at the NAIS national annual conference. Her work has also included the establishment and expansion of differentiated education across all levels, and sees opportunities for James River to “refine its already great practices to be a special place for ALL learners.” 
 
Mrs. Lindsay and her husband Jeff, an experienced whitewater paddler, are excited to relocate to Lynchburg (which they commented “felt like home”) and actively engage in our local community. They share three adult daughters, two dogs, and a passion for hiking, mountain biking, and the outdoors.
  
The Board of Trustees is delighted by the outcome of this comprehensive and collaborative search process and particularly appreciative of our eight-member Search Committee, capably led by Ashleigh Lineberry and guided by excellent consultants and partners Katherine Stuart and Dennis Campbell of The Education Group. The eight-month process attracted a robust candidate pool, and Search Committee members Kevin Gill, Skip Kughn, Traci Ogbu, Kristen O’Neill, Swathi Prabhu, Kathryn Yarzebinski, and I endeavored to ensure it was as inclusive, community-driven, and transparent as possible. 
 
In this season of Thanksgiving, I am aware that our community has much to celebrate. I am especially grateful for the tremendous participation and support of our entire community during our Head of School search. Your insight and perspective have been invaluable to the Search Committee. Throughout the process, the broad consensus of our community affirmed the Board’s decision that Jenn Lindsay is the ideal professional educator to lead James River Day School into our next 50 years. 
 
Please join me in celebrating and welcoming Jenn and Jeff Lindsay to the James River Day School family and the Lynchburg community. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Elaine Passman
Chair, James River Day School Board of Trustees