October 13, 2021
To the Waverly Community:
It is with great excitement that we announce the appointment of Clarke Weatherspoon as Waverly’s next Head of School effective July 1, 2022.
With more than 20 years as an educator, Clarke is joining us from the San Francisco Friends School (SFFS), where he has served as Middle School Head for the past two years. Clarke brings tremendous school leadership experience. His passion for education and dedication to creating ways for students to engage authentically and invest in their learning has been evident in his role as a history teacher, dean, division head, water polo coach and community volunteer.
Clarke shares deep affinity with Waverly’s progressive education values, its focus on small classes, student empowerment, and narrative system of student feedback and evaluation. In particular, Clarke understands the uniqueness of our school and is excited to partner with teachers, students, and families to further develop new and exciting experiences at Waverly. Clarke is uniquely positioned to become our next Head of School because of his experiences at the Urban School of San Francisco and SFFS, two schools that are very much aligned with Waverly’s core values and practices.
Clarke brings extensive diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging (DEIJB) experience to Waverly. He has partnered with multiple independent school boards in redeveloping and designing DEIJB systems, taught equity and inclusion courses, served as an outside consultant, and designed leadership courses for parents and students. Clarke is currently a member of USA Water Polo DEI Task Force, serves as a board member of POCIS Northern California and is a new teacher trainer with the California Teacher Development Collaborative.
At the core of our search was finding a leader who understands and embraces the unique culture and values of Waverly. We strongly believe that Clarke has demonstrated this in his past roles, experiences, and during the search process. His appointment as Head of School is the culmination of months of outreach to literally thousands of educators in independent, public, parochial, and charter schools, higher education, and community-based organizations. The Search Committee, composed of Trustees and faculty from all three divisions, worked closely with Jennifer Christensen and Bob Fricker of Carney Sandoe & Associates to narrow down the field of candidates. After making more intentional connections with 70 potential candidates, reviewing dossiers from 15, conducting video interviews with seven semi-finalists, and ultimately, inviting four candidates to visit our campuses, Clarke received overwhelmingly positive responses from all constituencies, including faculty, staff, the administrative team, and our former Head, Heidi Johnson. Of those community members who responded to the surveys, 98.8% agreed or strongly agreed that Clarke is aligned with the Waverly school culture and values, and 97.6% agreed or strongly agreed that Clarke should be the next Head of School.
This strong community support is best exemplified by this comment from a high school student:
All that Clark[e] shared today really resonated with me as a student. He talked about things that I thought [were] really rare to hear from some people in those positions. About complex dynamics in this world regarding accountability and true justice, not the textbook 2021 way, but the authentic way of handling it.
Clarke’s vision, thoughtfulness and passion for Waverly was evident in every interaction. He was the unanimous choice of the Search Committee and the Board overwhelmingly approved of Clarke’s nomination and appointment as our next Head of School.
Since Heidi announced her retirement, the Search Committee has endeavored to maintain a dialogue with the community regarding the search process first, for an Interim Head of School, and now, for our next permanent Head of School. You entrusted us with a supremely important decision, and we could not have made it without your confidence and well-considered feedback at each stage of the process. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we would like to thank the members of the Search Committee and the entire Waverly community for their engagement, support, guidance, and the time they have given to advance our shared mission and lead Waverly into the future.
Serita Young and Nadine Tanio
Co-Chairs, Head of School Search Committee
October 13, 2021
Dear Waverly Community,
I’m excited to be joining you as the next Head of School. I know this is an important time in the history of Waverly and in our country. I want to say thank you to the members of the Search Committee who spent countless hours talking with me and the other candidates for this role. They were great ambassadors for the school and engaging thought partners that helped me understand the significance of this opportunity. In addition, I also want to thank each community member I met during my recent visit who helped me to get a greater appreciation for what brings people to Waverly.
I know that students, teachers and parents love Waverly for its commitment to progressive education. Students learn by doing. They develop curiosity, make connections and expand their understanding of the world in partnership with inspired teachers. Waverly’s commitment to learning is paramount and its desire to keep students at the center of the experience is important to everyone. One of my main goals is to continue to build on this strong foundation.
Waverly is also about freedom and justice. Community members spoke openly about their commitment to DEIJB work (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice and Belonging) and the need for further practice and skill development in all elements of the school program. This is an important growth area across our society and I’m inspired by the openness and willingness to face these challenges directly. We will need to call on the creativity and courage that is in the history and the heart of the Waverly community and be willing to nurture the compassion, patience and empathy needed to help us collaborate across our differences.
Deepening these and many other elements of the Waverly program will not be a simple task. Building on the work of Heidi Johnson and John Huber who have set the bar high. Determined engagement is critical for the next Head of School and I look forward to formally starting my collaboration with you in July. Between now and then I’ll be giving everything I have to San Francisco Friends School, an amazing community that I revere.
I’ll be joined by my wife, Joanna Ro and our two children, Jee-Ah (3) and Jae-Young (1). We will bring our love for the outdoors, good food, coffee and Bay Area sports teams. We very much look forward to getting to know you all over the coming years.
Wishing you all the best,
Background to the Head of School Search
In November 2020, Heidi Johnson announced her intention to retire as head of The Waverly School at the end of the 2020 – 2021 school year. Heidi had been our long-serving Head of School, and we are tremendously grateful for all that she accomplished during her 25 years of service to Waverly. A national search was conducted to find Waverly’s next Head of School. Consistent with NAIS best practices, the Board of Trustees assembled a Head of School Search Committee and retained Carney, Sandoe & Associates, a highly regarded international search firm, to work with the Search Committee.
Meet the Search Committee
- Maria Brown (Parent of Aaliyah ’26 & Natalie ’24/Elementary School Teacher)
- Leo Glazé (Middle School Teacher/MS Basketball Coach)
- Greg Harrison (Parent of Eiji ’23 & Kazuo ’21/High School Teacher)
- Debbie Lennon (Parent of Megan ’11/Trustee)
- Wendy Lopata (Parent of Murray ’25 & Nolan ’22/Trustee)
- Noah Mayer (Parent of Lucy ’28, Charlie ’30, & Frankie ’33/Board of Trustees Chair): Non-Voting, Ex-Officio
- Vijay Natraj (Parent of Siddarth ’33 & Avantika ’31/Trustee)
- Nadine Tanio (Parent of Isaac ’21/Trustee): Search Committee Co-Chair
- Joanne Toll (Parent of Jamie ’22/Trustee)
- Serita Young (Parent of Aaron ’29 & Riley ’28/Board of Trustees Vice Chair): Search Committee Co-Chair
Communications to the Waverly Community
October 13, 2021 — Announcing Waverly’s Next Head of School (PDF)
September 10, 2021 — Finalists Announcement (PDF)
August 9, 2021 — Head of School Search Update (PDF)
March 10, 2021 — Interim Head of School Search Update (PDF)
December 21, 2020 — Search Process Announcement (PDF)
December 17, 2020 — Search Committee Announcement (PDF)
November 18, 2020 — Board Chair Update and Announcement of Engagement of Carney, Sandoe & Associates (PDF)
November 18, 2020 — Retirement Announcement (PDF)
The Search Process
Download a PDF of the search process timeline here.