Head of School Search

A Message from Heidi Johnson, Head of School

Novem­ber 18, 2020

Dear Waverly Community, 

In January of this year, I came to the diffi­cult deci­sion that the 2020 – 2021 school year would be my last at Waverly. My parents, both in their mid-90’s, had needed much care and support from me through­out 2019. I knew that would continue to be true for the fore­see­able future, and I wanted to do all I could for them. I real­ized I could not do that while still giving the Waverly commu­nity every­thing that you deserve. When the pandemic hit, I put my deci­sion aside for a while. At the end of July, my father passed away, leaving my mother in my care and bring­ing me back to the conclu­sion I had reached in January. After much thought, I have decided to retire from Waverly at the end of June 2021. 

As I think back over my twenty-five years at the school, I am filled with grat­i­tude. I have had the tremen­dous honor of working along­side students, fami­lies, and colleagues to build a school that contin­u­ously seeks to live up to its progres­sive mission. Together, we have faced many chal­lenges. The path has not always been clear, but with the compas­sion and support of the commu­nity, we have emerged from our chal­lenges a stronger school. 

I am grate­ful to the students of Waverly, past and present, for all the joy they have given me and all that they have taught me. What a gift it has been to witness chil­dren learn­ing to read, singing and dancing with confi­dence, over­com­ing learn­ing strug­gles, burst­ing into a run at the gate of the farm, sharing their heart­felt writing, and raising their voices for social justice and in protec­tion of the earth. My years with Waverly’s students have inspired me to live in the present, to find time to play, to think deeply about my own expe­ri­ences and beliefs, to be brave, and to embrace change.

I am grate­ful to the fami­lies of Waverly, from the earli­est days to the present, for the time, effort, resources, energy, and love that they have given to the school. Our fami­lies have nurtured the school’s growth, created commu­nity, and tire­lessly volun­teered on tasks too numer­ous to list. Our fami­lies have chal­lenged me to profoundly fulfill the school’s mission and provided the encour­age­ment and support neces­sary to move ever closer to that goal.

I am grate­ful to my colleagues, past and present, who along with the students are the true heart of the school. Waverly staff members, teach­ers, and admin­is­tra­tors have perse­vered through rough times, enthu­si­as­ti­cally worn many hats, and embraced growth, both personal and profes­sional. They have kept students at the center of their work, and many helped me raise my own chil­dren. I have learned from their honesty and been nour­ished by their generos­ity and grace. 

I am grate­ful to the board of trustees for their deep commit­ment to the school’s mission and for endlessly sharing their time, profes­sional exper­tise, and resources. Under their guid­ance and with their gener­ous support, Waverly has grown from a small school strug­gling to meet its finan­cial commit­ments to a well-estab­lished insti­tu­tion that owns its primary campuses and has suffi­cient resources to weather storms. Along with the school, I have bene­fited deeply from the board’s constancy and wisdom. 

During a student inter­view in my first year at the school, an appli­cant for the not yet opened high school said that she wanted to come to a school that would be differ­ent because she was there.” That student was in our first grad­u­at­ing class, and the school was differ­ent – kinder, funnier, wiser – because she was with us for three years. I have told this story often because I think it captures an essen­tial truth of our school. Every member of the commu­nity shapes Waverly. I am excited for all that the new school head will bring – new life expe­ri­ences, ideas, energy, fresh eyes – and all the ways Waverly will grow ever stronger. 

I will work with deter­mi­na­tion to further Waverly’s mission and will remain deeply involved in all aspects of school life until June 30. I will retire with a full heart and rich memo­ries of my Waverly life. 

With love and gratitude, 

Heidi Johnson

A Message from Noah Mayer, Board Chair

Novem­ber 18, 2020

Dear Waverly Community, 

Last night, Heidi informed the Board of Trustees that this will be her final school year as Waver­ly’s Head of School. 

In recent years Heidi and I have spoken about her plans for retire­ment and what that change would look like for our school. We all knew that Heidi would not be here forever, and we all know that all schools go through lead­er­ship change. I deeply respect the integrity Heidi showed when she made this hard choice. She knows that she cannot continue to care for her family, espe­cially her mother, and give Waverly every­thing it needs to move forward. 

We have asked so much of Heidi over these years, and now it is time to recog­nize her needs. The Board of Trustees honors Heidi’s request to step down as Head of School after twenty-five years of service to give her mother, herself, and the rest of her family needed time and care. 

Heidi is essen­tially The Waverly School’s founder. Through her profound commit­ment to our students and teach­ers, she shaped Waverly’s approach to teach­ing and learn­ing. Heidi’s legacy is count­less lives touched and the trans­for­ma­tion of a small, strug­gling school into an impor­tant insti­tu­tion boast­ing a vibrant, eclec­tic commu­nity. The high school and its campus, the elemen­tary school, and the Farm are key phys­i­cal elements of Waverly that have been built, purchased, and nurtured under Heidi’s tenure. These grounds are the back­drop. The school’s pride and joy, inspired and led by Heidi, are the discus­sion, debate, friend­ship, collab­o­ra­tion, laugh­ter, music, art, and play that take place here. 

Over the coming months, we will work together to find the right leader to sustain what Heidi helped build and to lead us into the future. We are a commu­nity in a posi­tion to help define the next chapter for our school, an excit­ing and important task. 

We are fortu­nate to announce that we will have great help as we make this choice. The Board of Trustees has hired Bob Fricker and Jennifer Wong Chris­tensen from Carney Sandoe to assist us with this impor­tant process. Bob and Jennifer have consulted on well over 100 Head of School searches, notably the recent searches at Flintridge Prep and Marin Country Day School.

Our search will be a thought­ful, thor­ough, and inclu­sive process that consid­ers input from all stake­hold­ers across our commu­nity. It is the Board’s inten­tion to engage parents, alumni, students, staff, and faculty through­out this process. Over the coming weeks you will hear more about the search process and have the oppor­tu­nity to share your views about and hopes for our next Head of School. 

Heidi’s commit­ment built Waverly into a wonder­ful place for chil­dren to grow and learn as unique indi­vid­u­als. Heidi trans­formed our school into an example of what progres­sive educa­tion should look like. I hope you join me in taking a moment to express your grat­i­tude to Heidi for giving so much of herself to make Waverly what it is today and will be tomorrow. 

Sincerely yours,

Noah Mayer
Waverly Board Chair