New Head of School Announcement

About the Incoming Head of School

Following a nationwide search, the Board of Trustees selected Meshea Matthews to serve as the next Head of School, effective July 1, 2019.

Meshea Matthews’ arrival signals an important chapter for St. John’s. With a keen sense of the Dallas independent school community and deep appreciation for the unique attributes our school offers, Meshea is drawn to our mission and intent on amplifying St. John’s story across the city. Most significantly, she embodies the ethos of the institution and the attributes we uphold for our graduates: a love of learning, character marked by integrity and tenacity; and the ability to connect, collaborate and communicate authentically. Meshea is uniquely suited to lead our school into the future.

“From our first interview with Meshea, we were impressed,” Head of School Search Committee Chair Melissa Eakes observed. “Throughout the process, it became clear that she is student-centered, guided by grace and feels called to St. John’s and our mission. We found that to be very compelling.”

Meshea served in a wide range of roles during her 19-year career at The Hockaday School: classroom teacher, department chair, Dean of Students, and ultimately as Director of Resident Life and Global Outreach for the school’s 106-year-old boarding program. Throughout, she distinguished herself to students, parents and peers. 

“In my more than 50 years in education, I have never met a more capable, truly authentic and ethical person than Meshea Matthews,” noted Karen A. Drawz, former Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs at The Hockaday School. “In my opinion, she is a born leader.”

“Something very special happens at 848 Harter Road, so I am incredibly honored to accept this call to lead St. John’s and to carry forward the mission, message and momentum of this great school,” said Matthews. “My visits to the campus revealed an active community with remarkable teachers, talented staff, dedicated parents and most importantly, bright young minds, ready to learn and grow. I am counting the days until I can welcome the students back to campus in August 2019!”


 

Message from Meshea 11/16/18

 

 

On November 16, 2018, the Board of Trustees and the Head of School Search Committee, announced the unanimous selection and appointment of Meshea Matthews as our next Head of School, effective July 1, 2019. View the video to hear Meshea's message to the St. John's community.

 

 


 

News


 

New Head of School Search

In February 2018, the Board of Trustees announced the search for St. John's next Head of School. Please find details about the process, the Search Committee, frequently asked questions, and letters to the community below.

Background

In February 2018, Mark Crotty announced his service as our Head of School would be coming to an end in June of 2019. By providing St. John's with substantial notice, Mark enabled the Board of Trustees to work towards a very smooth transition.

One of the primary roles of the Board of Trustees is to hire the Head of School who oversees the day-to-day management and leadership of the school. A small Search Committee comprising of 9 outstanding members from the St. John's community was appointed by the Board to undertake the important work of partnering with our search consultants to vet potential candidates.

The search process involved representation from all constituencies in the St. John's community and included frequent communication throughout this extensive process. The Board of Trustees utilized a thoughtful and inclusive process to identify a new Head of School who would continue to build on Mark's many achievements.

Search Committee

SEARCH COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Audra Chavis
Audra Chavis and her husband, Terrence, have one daughter Elle who is currently in the seventh grade at St. John’s Episcopal School. They have been a part of the St. John’s Episcopal School family since Elle was in Kindergarten. Audra currently serves on the board of trustees for St. John’s Episcopal School where she is a member of the Governance Committee. She also serves on the Diversity Task Force Committee and the Annual Cultural Fest Committee. In addition, Audra serves as new family middle school coordinator, middle school open house tour guide and works with the seventh grade Model U.N. students.

In addition, She has held several leadership roles at various non-profit organizations in the Dallas area including being a past board president for Our Friends Place. Audra earned her Master of Business Administration in Health Services Management from the University of Dallas and her Bachelor of Arts from Xavier University of Louisiana. 


Derek Claybrook
Derek and his wife, August, have been part of the St. John’s community for over 40 years. August is an alumna of St. John’s and grew up attending the church. She and Derek were married at St. John’s Church and their two daughters have attended St. John’s School beginning in pre-K. Abby is a current eighth grader and Madeline is now a sophomore at Ursuline. 

Derek has served on the St. John’s School board of trustees for four years and served on the Finance Committee for three years prior to joining the board. Currently, Derek is a member of the board Executive Committee. Derek feels privileged to serve on the search committee as St. John’s writes another chapter in its history. 


Melissa Eakes - Search Committee Chair
Melissa Eakes is the mother of two children at St. John’s Episcopal School: Catherine, fifth grade, and Andrew, second grade. During the past six years, Melissa has been an active member of the Parents Association, serving in a variety of positions, including President for the 2016-17 school year. 

She served on the Board of Trustees Advancement Committee for two years and is a pending incoming member of the board. Melissa’s favorite spot to serve the St. John’s community is in the library, where she has regularly volunteered for the last seven years. Melissa and her husband, Ben, are active volunteers with Interfaith Family Services and Highland Park Presbyterian Church. Melissa holds a B.A. in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs from Southern Methodist University.  


Judy Gass
During time of need, Judy has always been ready to help St. John’s. Judy’s association with St. John’s began in 2009 when she was named interim head of school while the search began for the school’s permanent head, Mark Crotty.

Judy has served several ISAS and NAIS schools during her years as a teacher and administrator: Hockaday as admissions director, head of lower school, and interim head of upper school; Lamplighter, as interim head of school, trustee, life trustee and Spirit Award recipient. She has also worked at Good Shepherd Episcopal School, The Saint Michael School, ESD, and Saint Mary’s Hall. Currently, she proudly serves as a St. John’s grandparent to Charlie and Jane Canales.


Mark Kraemer
A parishioner of St. John's Episcopal Church since 2009, Mark has served on the board of trustees since 2014. Mark and his wife, Jenny, are parents to one St. John's graduate as well as three younger children who also attended St. John's for many years. In addition, Jenny is a St. John’s alumna who previously taught seventh grade Language Arts at the school. 

During his tenure on the board, Mark has served on the Governance Committee where he spearheaded the joint church-school initiative to update and modernize the school’s bylaws and governance procedures. In his professional life, Mark works in health care and software development as he leads the Agile Center of Competence for AmerisourceBergen.


Mary Odom
When they relocated to Dallas in 2008, Mary Odom and her husband quickly decided that St. John’s was a perfect fit for both their children and their family. After enjoying time volunteering and substituting, Mary joined the St. John’s faculty in January of 2012 as a fourth grade language arts teacher.

Mary, who has 17 years of experience teaching middle school and high school English, recently returned to the middle school classroom to teach seventh grade English. Mary and her husband Robert, an Episcopal priest and chaplain at Parish Episcopal School, have two children, George (’11) and Suzette (’14), both St. John’s graduates.


Scott Parks
Scott Parks is an alumni parent and former trustee. He and his wife, Leigh, joined the St. John’s community when their daughter Allison (’11) started pre-k in 2000. By the time their son Reed graduated in 2014, they had logged countless volunteer hours individually and collectively. 

Scott served in a variety of roles during his six years of board service, including board secretary and vice president. As chair of the Advancement Committee, he worked to raise funds for the Teacher Endowment Fund and the Science Wing addition. Prior to joining the board, he chaired the Marketing Task Force and provided communications support for the 2009 head of school search committee.


Jennifer Sharpe
Jennifer Sharpe and her husband, Chuck, have three children that are currently students at St. John’s: Wyatt (first grade), Charles (fourth grade), and Lauren (sixth grade). Jennifer has worked extensively with both the St. John’s Parents Association and the St. John’s board of trustees for the last eight years. Jennifer has served as the co-chair for the annual school auction and has served as the P.A. treasurer as well as the vice president of fundraising for the P.A. She has been a member of the board of trustees for the last four years and has served on the Executive, Finance (chair), Governance (co-chair) and Advancement committees.

Jennifer grew up in Dallas and was happy to move back here and start her career after college. As an alumna of Ursuline Academy, she served on the Ursuline Foundation Board for six years in addition to being the chair of the Finance Committee. After many years in public accounting, she currently works as a CPA for White Rock Investment Co. 


Rev. John Thorpe
Father Thorpe came to St. John’s in 2014 to serve as school chaplain, and he has taught Religion, Latin, and Service Learning with a focus on hunger issues. In addition to daily chapel duties, he occasionally preaches, celebrates the Eucharist, and teaches Sunday School at St. John’s Church. He serves as ecumenical officer to the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas.

Father Thorpe is originally from Oklahoma. In college, he met and married Beth, an Iowa native and school librarian. They now have three children: Edwin (age 12), Olan (age 9), and Vivienne (age 6). Father Thorpe went to seminary at Yale Divinity School through the Institute of Sacred Music and was ordained to the priesthood in 2005. He has served as Associate Rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in downtown Albany, NY, and as Rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Newton, Iowa. 

FAQs

Who will select the new head?

Under the Bylaws of St. John’s Episcopal School, the Board of Trustees is entrusted to recruit and select the next head of school. To manage and coordinate this important and time-consuming process, the Board established the Ad Hoc Head of School Search Committee, chaired by Melissa Eakes. In assembling the Search Committee, the Board sought to bring together individuals with a diverse range of experiences and points of view who each bring a strong degree of commitment to and involvement in the school.

The members of the Search Committee are Audra Chavis, Derek Claybrook, Melissa Eakes, Judy Gass, Mark Kramer, Mary Odom, Scott Parks, Jennifer Sharpe and Father John Thorpe.


Has a consultant been hired to facilitate the head of school search?

Yes. The Board of Trustees has engaged the services of Resource Group 175 (RG 175) as its partner in the search. RG 175 is a leading independent school search firm. Consultant Tom Olverson will work with us to help steer the search process and to recruit candidates. Tom is a highly-regarded former independent head of school. He has extensive experience; conducting searches for heads of school and other senior leaders for independent schools. We have been impressed by his commitment and experience in working with independent schools, and we are confident that the community will find Tom and RG 175 to be a good fit for the values and culture of our school community. You can read more about them here: RG175Tom Olverson.


How will RG175 and the Search Committee work together?

As a first step, the Search Committee and RG 175 will gather input from the community regarding the opportunities, challenges, and desired profile for the next head of school. RG 175 will then assist the Committee in developing a detailed profile of what we seek in the next head of school. RG 175 will next work to identify and compile a list of the candidates who would best fit St. John’s search criteria. 

The Search Committee will review these candidate files, interview the most viable candidates, and identify 3-4 finalists who will visit our campus. As part of the candidate evaluation the Committee will draw upon the advice from a Faculty Advisory Committee and a non-trustee Parent Advisory Committee to ensure an inclusive, collaborative process. After considering input from all constituents who meet with finalists, the Search Committee will recommend a candidate for appointment by the Board of Trustees.  

Until the finalist phase, the work of the Search Committee must remain strictly confidential, and so we encourage you to remain patient as we work through this process. Please discourage undue speculation or the spread of inaccurate information. If you have questions or concerns, please bring them to the chair of the Search Committee.


How will I be able to provide input?

We will be providing opportunities for faculty and parents to meet with our consultants from May 16-17, 2018, and all current and recent community members will have an opportunity to complete an online survey. Please be on the lookout for an email with more details concerning the May 16-17 faculty and parent forums. Broad community input will be critical to effectively define the leadership, professional, and personal qualities required in the new head of school.


What are you looking for in a new head of school?

Defining the desired qualifications and characteristics of the new head of school is our first step. The Search Committee is actively seeking input on this topic from parents, faculty, staff, students, and alumni. This is the goal of the online survey and the in-person meetings on May 16-17. We strongly encourage you to participate and share your ideas. All qualified candidates, both internal and external, will be considered.


What is the timeline?

Our consultants and members of the Search Committee will be soliciting and screening candidates throughout the summer and fall of 2018. We expect to be hosting finalist visits to our campus in late fall, with an announcement about the appointment of our new head of school coming in January 2019. Our new head of school will assume responsibility on July 1, 2019. 

Past Communication