• Cushing
The Role of the Cushing Academy Search Committee
Head of School Position Description
Calendar of Events - Timeline*


We are pleased to announce that the search for a new Head of School has commenced.

We anticipate that a new Head of School will join us in July 2018.

During the search process, our Leadership Transition Team--Margaret Lee (Co-Head of School for Academic Affairs and Student Life) and Catherine Pollock--(Co-Head of School for Admissions, Outreach, and Administrative Services) will continue to serve in their respective roles.

In order for us to efficiently and effectively manage the search, and to ensure the confidentiality of the process for candidates, we ask that nominations you might have be sent directly to our dedicated search email address at cushingheadofschoolsearch@gmail.com. Please note that I, in my role as Search Committee Chair, have instructed Search Committee members to refrain from forwarding any applications or engaging in conversations with candidates prior to their being vetted by the Search Committee as a whole.

We are excited to identify a candidate for appointment by our Board of Trustees. Through a survey, 815 members of our community thoughtfully identified the attributes and skills they deemed important qualities for the new Head of School. We are honored to have the privilege of ensuring that the next Head of School embodies those characteristics that are so important to our Cushing community. 

Melissa Irving Christensen ’00
Chair, Head of School Search Committee

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Search Committee Members

The Board of Trustees received more than 800 responses to our survey about the important qualities of and priorities for Cushing’s next Head of School. We are extremely grateful for your feedback.  Your responses also helped to guide us in forming a Search Committee composed of objective and committed individuals who reflect the rich diversity of the Cushing community. 
The Board of Trustees has identified fifteen Cushing community members who will serve on the Search Committee.  

  • Melissa Irving Christensen '00,
    Chair of the Search Committee
  • M. Elizabeth Akers P'10, '13, '17
  • Charles Schaefer GP'17 
  • Sue Hawkes Wight P'06
Faculty and Staff:
  • Mark Burke (Math Department)
  • Mary Frances Hanover (Science Department)
  • Heather Hill '90 (Communications)
  • Stirling Ince (ESL Department)
  • Cathleen Melanson (Business Office)
  • Stewart DeLeon '19
    (member of Cushing Student Senate)

  • Yashi Thakurani '18
    (member of Cushing Student Senate)
  • James Kraskouskas '65  
  • Brian Teixeira '99 
  • Saundra Edwards P'18
  • Harry Powers P'05, '08, '14
The Role of the Cushing Academy Search Committee

Serving on the Search Committee is both an honor and a privilege and brings with it extraordinary responsibility. The Search Committee has been appointed by and is accountable to the Board of Trustees. The Search Committee has been charged to review candidate applications, conduct interviews and recommend up to 3 finalists to the Board. The Board will ultimately select the Head of School and officially announce the appointment to the Cushing community and relevant external audiences.
Every action that the Search Committee undertakes will be kept in the strictest of confidence for the sake of Cushing Academy, as well as the candidates whose employment may be made vulnerable at their home institution.

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Head of School Position Description
The Board of Trustees of Cushing Academy seeks qualified candidates for the position of Head of School. Cushing Academy is an independent college preparatory boarding and day school, serving 400 students in grades 9-12 and postgraduates. Founded in 1865 as a co-educational institution, Cushing Academy is located in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, 62 miles from Boston.
Cushing exists for students, and develops curious, creative, and confident learners and leaders. Its legacy of student centeredness, diversity, and embracing students with a range of academic abilities is as strong today as it was the day it was founded. Cushing’s commitment to the pursuit of academic excellence, the arts, athletics, and academic support programs is at the very core of its mission.
Candidates must be able to demonstrate all of the following:
  • A record of tangible Head of School accomplishments in partnership with a Board of Trustees.
  • Development, implementation, and measurable outcomes of an institutional strategic plan and
    development of annual operating budgets based on the priorities of the plan.
  • A strong and measurable record of community outreach with students, faculty, parents, staff, alumni, donors, and external stakeholders.
  • The ability to make informed financial decisions, an understanding of financial statements, and proficiency in clearly communicating the financial condition of a school.
  • An understanding of the value of Academic Support Programs while promoting academic rigor.
  • Hands-on experience working with a significant population of international students and/or in an international school setting.
  • A commitment to embrace the Cushing Academy mission.
The successful candidate will need to demonstrate the following qualities:
  • Excellent communication skills both spoken and written
  • Knowledge of child growth and development, including a deep and demonstrated understanding of adolescent learning styles and differences
  • Resourcefulness
  • Leadership
  • A value system that embraces institutional health/growth/stewardship over personal ambition
  • Positive interpersonal relationships
  • Enthusiastic and inspiring personality
  • Empathic and respectful listening skills
  • Strong motivation to do work at any level
  • Devotion and dedication to Cushing’s mission, vision, and values
  • Open-mindedness
  • Honesty
The following priorities for action will be required of the successful candidate and will form the basis of the first year performance evaluation:
  • Academic excellence (including Visual Arts, Performing Arts, English as a Second Language, and Academic Support Programs)
  • Attracting a high achieving, diversified student body (including day students)
  • Student and faculty retention
  • Institutional financial stability
  • Competitive athletic programs
The Search Process:
Interested candidates must submit the following materials electronically in a single submission to cushingheadofschoolsearch@gmail.com no later than June 18, 2017:
  • Cover letter detailing how the candidate meets the criteria established by the Search Committee
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • A list of four references (titles, phone numbers, and emails)
Candidates are invited to submit questions regarding the search to cushingheadofschoolsearch@gmail.com or to call Ms. Colette de Labry, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Cushing Academy at (561) 319-0152.
Candidates are required to have at least a Master’s Degree; Ph.D. strongly preferred.
Competitive salary and benefits package offered.
The Board of Trustees anticipates appointing a new Head of School no later than its October 2017 Board meeting.
The successful candidate must be able and willing to be on-site during an agreed upon transition period and commence work no later than July 1, 2018.
Cushing Academy seeks candidates who share our commitment to diversity in all aspects of our school. It is the policy of Cushing Academy to provide equal employment opportunities to all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religious creed, age, sex, pregnancy, marital status, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, veteran's status, genetic predisposition or any other legally protected status. Cushing is fully accredited by The New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

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Calendar of Events - Timeline*

MARCH 2017 
Appoint Head of School Search Committee.
APRIL 2017
Present Draft Head of School Position Description to the Board for approval.
Conduct Kick Off meeting with the Head of School Search Committee.
Post Position Description with NAIS, AISNE, and NY Times.
Gather Head of School candidates' curriculum vitae and related materials electronically.
Conduct 2nd Search Committee meeting.
Ensure last date for candidate submissions is met.
Conduct 3rd Search Committee meeting to paper screen candidates; compare Evaluation Screening Sheets. Craft and issue letter from Committee Chair inviting 8-12 candidates for GoToMeeting interviews.
Conduct 4th Search Committee meeting utilizing GoToMeeting with 8 selected candidates. Determine Semi-Finalists.
Present Semi-Finalists to the Board of Trustees.
Schedule, conduct, and summarize hour-long reference checks via teleconference utilizing standardized format.
Prepare Semi-Finalist briefing materials for Board preparation and interviews with candidates.
-Conduct individual candidate briefings for the Board of Trustees.
-Conduct Board of Trustees interviews with Semi-Finalists in Boston.
-Determine if any Semi-Finalists should not be invited for on-campus interviews.
Schedule on-campus interviews. Design format and flow of campus visit. Identify members of the Cushing community to participate in group and 1:1 interviews. Determine how best to collect feedback from interview sessions.
Conduct MA required background check of Finalists. 
Conduct reference checks with each Finalist's Board Chair.
Conduct on-campus interviews with Finalists.
Hold Special Board of Trustees meeting to consider relevant feedback from Cushing Community and appoint new Head of School.
Present offer to successful candidate.
Finalize contract negotiations.
Announce new Head of School.
*Timeline may be amended as appropriate by the Search Committee.

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Cushing Academy

39 School Street
Ashburnham, Massachusetts 01430

Cushing Academy

Cushing Academy is a coed, college preparatory day and boarding school for grades 9-12 and PG. Our students, who come from over 30 states and 30 countries, excel in and out of the classroom through outstanding academic, art and athletic offerings. Visit our welcoming community and beautiful 162-acre campus in Ashburnham, Mass., one hour from Boston, to experience all that Cushing has to offer.