FAQ - Baker Demonstration School
Head of School Transition FAQ
Information from the Board of Directors following Head of School Dan Schwartz’s March
7 announcement that he plans to leave Baker at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.
Q: How did this decision come about?
A: Dan is a skilled and accomplished Head of School at a natural inflection point in his
career. After much serious consideration, he made a personal and professional decision
to look for new career challenges. Baker’s Board of Directors fully respects his decision.
Dan and the Board have worked closely together in recent months to create a careful
transition plan based on industry best practices.
Dan’s accomplishments since coming to Baker in June 2010 are particularly impressive
in light of the intense work required to bring our institution to maturity as an independent
school following its 2005 separation from National Louis University. His work has
positioned the school to realize our vision of being the progressive school of choice in
the Chicago North Shore community. We are confident that Dan is leaving the school in
a position of strength, are thankful for his dedicated service to the school, and will wish
him well when his time with us ends in June 2017.
Q: Why announce this decision now?
A: The typical timetable for placement of a Head of School is approximately 18 months,
given contracts and the obligation for both departing and incoming Heads to ensure
orderly transitions that serve the best interests of their respective institutions. Because of
careful planning with Dan we are fortunate to be in position to implement a smooth
transition. Each year roughly 200 independent schools nationwide conduct searches for
new Heads of School. By making this announcement now, Baker joins the national head
search cycle at the correct time to compete for the best candidates, and Dan allows
sufficient time for his own transition.
Q: How will this transition impact life at Baker for students and families?
A: The Board and Dan share the same goal of making the transition to a new Head of
School as smooth as possible. Baker’s day-to-day mission to provide a child-centered,
progressive education will continue as it always has with Dan as the Head of School
through June 2017. While there will be close communication with faculty and parents
about the search process, we expect the process itself to have little effect on the daily
teaching and learning experiences of our faculty and students.
Q: What happens next; how will the search work?
A: The Baker community will receive an update soon on the formation of a Search
Committee and the selection of an executive placement firm to support the search. The
Search Committee will be comprised of parents, faculty and staff, and Board members,
guided by the search firm. The members of the Search Committee will be announced
shortly after it forms. The committee, the search firm, and Dan will work diligently to
establish and execute a best-in-class, nationwide search that attracts the candidates
who share Baker’s vision and to hire the very best candidate. We are confident that
Baker is a highly attractive opportunity for talented administrators.
Q: What is the general timeline for the Head of School search?
A: Fortunately, with stable leadership in place, we can proceed in an orderly and
deliberate fashion. In a typical search timeline, the search committee and search firm
screen candidates through the spring and summer, a year in advance, and bring finalist
candidates to the school for in-depth exchanges with all of our constituent groups during
the fall. We fully anticipate having our next Head of School retained and announced well
before Dan’s departure in June 2017.
Q: What is the status of the campus renovation project?
A: The school is moving forward with the early work on the campus project and is in the
planning stages for a capital campaign, anticipating improvements to our building and
grounds this summer and in the summer of 2017. Working with the Board,
administration, faculty, and parents, Dan will continue to drive these projects as our key
leader through the next 16 months. Much like any project of this type, we will continue to
evaluate the conditions and make any necessary adjustments to the schedule, but we
remain on track. We will continue to update the Baker community on our progress as we
Q: How will I be involved?
A: Parents, faculty and staff, and the Board will be represented on the Search
Committee. Additionally, with the guidance of our executive search firm, we intend to
conduct community-wide surveys and focus group meetings to get your input on the
skills and characteristics we seek in the next Head of School. We’ll update you on the
progress of the search through regular communication and a page on the Baker website
dedicated to the search, which will launch after our search firm is retained.
Q: To whom should I direct further questions?
A: If you have questions about how this transition will impact your child(ren)’s education,
please contact Directors of Teaching and Learning Denise Boswell and Lisa Mozer. If
you have questions about the capital campaign, please contact Director of Advancement
Gena Johnson. More information will be available in the coming days about the search
committee and search process.
And as Dan mentioned in his letter to the community, his door is always open.