Head of School Search Information

In January 2017, former Head of School Lee Drolet announced she would be leaving PKS due to a serious family medical issue. Shortly thereafter, the Board of Trustees and the Board's Head of School Search Committee kicked off an exhaustive, international search for the right Head of School for Presidio Knolls. In June 2017, Board co-chairs Matt Koidin and Jeremy Liew announced Chris Livaccari will be our next permanent Head of School, and Judy Fox will be our 2017-2018 Interim Head of School. More information is below.

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Dear Friends,
 
We hope you are gearing up for a fun and fulfilling summer! Before the school year ends, we wanted to make two exciting announcements.
 
Chris Livaccari, Head of School
 
We are thrilled to announce that Chris Livaccari, a distinguished language immersion educator, Mandarin scholar, Mandarin speaker, and author, has been named our next Head of School by unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees. Among the highly talented candidates who visited the school in recent months, Chris stood out for his commitment to educational excellence and his deep knowledge of and involvement in Mandarin language learning on an international scale. Chris’s bright vision for PKS’s future and his inquisitive, warm, down-to-earth style made him the ideal match for our school.
 
We want our next Head of School to show the world that PKS is a model for a new way of teaching Mandarin immersion using progressive, inquiry-based, and child-centered learning. PKS is preparing our children to be empathetic thinkers, lifelong learners, and problem-solvers who can navigate with confidence in a complex, ever-changing world. In Chris, we found such a leader. He models the traits we seek in our children, and his vision and talent will propel us forward. Connected and innovative, Chris loves nurturing the curious hearts and minds of children, and feels a deep connection to our school, our goals, and our community.
 
Our confidence in Chris couldn’t be higher. Chris is a seasoned leader and innovator in the fields of bilingual and world languages education, Chinese language learning, and US-China educational exchange. He comes to us from International School of the Peninsula (ISTP), a PreK-8 independent school in Palo Alto with bilingual programs in Mandarin and French. ISTP recently celebrated the twentieth anniversary of its Chinese program, which Chris built into a nationally recognized platform. Chris has served as both Elementary and Middle School Principal at ISTP, in addition to his PreK-8 role as Chinese Program Director.
 
In addition, Chris is a senior advisor to the Asia Society's Center for Global Education, where he previously served as Director of Education and Chinese Language Initiatives. During his time working at the Asia Society, Chris created a collaborative national network of more than 100 US schools in 28 states that teach Chinese, and their partner schools in more than 20 provinces in China. The network now includes almost 40,000 students across the United States who are learning Chinese and participating actively in exchanges with their Chinese counterparts. Earlier in his career, Chris was a U.S. Foreign Service officer who held positions in Tokyo and Shanghai. He has traveled extensively in China, Japan, and Korea, taught Chinese and Japanese, and authored many books and articles on multilingualism, teaching Chinese, and Mandarin immersion.
 
Chris is a graduate of Columbia University and holds advanced degrees in East Asian Languages from the University of Chicago and Applied Linguistics from New York University. His resume can be found here.
 
As is typical for an independent school hiring timeline, Chris will officially start as Head of School in July of 2018, but he will spend significant time on campus working with the staff and attending PKS events starting this Fall. We also have exciting news about an Interim Head of School for the coming school year, which is outlined below.
 
Judy Fox, Interim Head of School
 
The second news is that by unanimous vote, the Board has also hired an Interim Head of School for the 2017-2018 school year to bolster and guide our highly talented faculty and administrative team and put in place a strong set of stepping stones as we prepare for Chris’s arrival. It’s common for schools to hire interim heads during a transition to a new Head of School, and we feel confident that this is the right move for PKS.
 
We're excited that Judy Fox, an education leader with over 25 years of experience as a Head of School and Principal, will join us in July as Interim Head of School. She specializes in interim leadership engagements and excels at mentoring faculty and supporting teams through transitions. Judy comes to us from Avenues: The World School, an independent, progressive, language immersion (Chinese and Spanish) PreK-12 school in New York, where she was Interim Head of the Upper Division.
 
Prior to Avenues, Judy was Interim Head of School at La Jolla Day School in Southern California, and Head of School at Princeton Day School in New Jersey. Judy’s resume can be found here.

Recognition of the Leadership Team
 
As we make these announcements, we also want to profoundly thank Dave Lessing, our COO and Acting Head of School, for his excellence and dedication this past year. Dave took over as Acting Head of School in mid-February, and with the support of Renee, Simona, Kristina, and Ron, kept things moving forward for our faculty and students. At our recent Parent Circle meetings and in countless one-on-one discussions with parents, the Leadership Team’s investment in strengthening the program has been on full display. Dave has been instrumental in carrying forward our unique mission, and we are all deeply grateful for his leadership. We welcome Dave back into the COO role and are unwaveringly committed to supporting the Leadership Team through a seamless handoff to Judy and Chris’s headships and beyond.
 
With these leaders secured, and thanks to our superb faculty and staff, skilled leaders, remarkable students, and engaged families, our school’s future is brighter than ever! Thank you for your ongoing support as we continue to build a school where progressive Mandarin immersion fuels our children’s curiosity, connectedness, and engagement in the world.

We join the entire community in expressing gratitude to our Head of School Search Committee: Anu Menon (Chair), Katie Biber, Rachel Bordoli, Ranee Lan, and Laura Nadler. We also thank our Parent and Teacher Advisory Committees -- members provided invaluable feedback throughout the search process. 

Sincerely,
Matt Koidin and Jeremy Liew
Co-Chairs, on behalf of the Board

Last updated June 14, 2017