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,
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.
Waverly Board Chair