November 7, 2018
The Board of Trustees of Ascension Episcopal School is pleased to announce the selection of Jeffrey N. Plunk as our next Head of School beginning July 1, 2019. Jeff comes to Lafayette from Atlanta, Georgia, where he currently serves as the High School Principal of Wesleyan School. Jeff, his wife Jennifer, and their children Matthew (12th) and Maddie (10th) are excited about their move to Ascension and Lafayette.
This selection is the result of an extensive, six‐month, national search conducted by a nine‐member Head of School Search Committee and supported by Southern Teachers Agency. The committee selected three outstanding finalists who were invited to Ascension for interview sessions with focus groups consisting of trustees, parents, faculty, staff, and students. Jeff went on to receive the Search Committee’s recommendation to the Board of Trustees who, in turn, unanimously voted for his appointment with the approval of the Rector.
In selecting Jeff as our next Head of School, the Board of Trustees has chosen a leader with a lifelong passion for education and learning. The trustees value his immediate and perceptible connections with Ascension students, his high level of energy and enthusiasm, and his many and varied accomplishments. Jeff best embodied our school’s mission and values.
Our next Head of School has a track record of creating programs that help students understand and reach their potential. With a bachelor’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology in applied mathematics and a master’s degree from Georgia State University in math education, Jeff is an educator first. He has taught at three of the most well-regarded schools in the Atlanta area, Woodward Academy, Westminster Schools, and Wesleyan School. Over his twelve years at Wesleyan, he has served as a teacher, Assistant Dean, Dean, and High School Principal. Upon describing his leadership, Jeff's references praise his work on improving retention, expanding AP offerings, and focusing on student health and wellness.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we would like to thank the members of the Head of School Search Committee, our consultants at Southern Teachers Agency, and all the members of our Ascension community who have contributed greatly to the search process. We laud all who were involved for their commitment and dedication to the integrity of the search process. Finally, we wish to thank Dr. Pat Taylor for his ongoing work during this transitional year. We thank you for your support and ask you to join us in welcoming the Plunk family to our community.
Board of Trustees Chair
Search Committee Update - October 2018
October 18, 2018
Dear Ascension Community,
We are making excellent progress in our Head of School search. To review, during the summer, the Search Committee considered candidates from an impressive pool identified by our search consultants at Southern Teachers Agency. The Committee then met individually with an impressive group of semi-finalists chosen from amongst the consultant’s recommendations. After careful consideration, three finalists and their spouses have been invited for a three-day visit to tour the campuses and meet with members of the Ascension community. The dates of their visits are as follows:
Candidate 1: October 21 through 23
Candidate 2: October 23 through 25
Candidate 3: October 29 through 31
Each of the candidates is currently a leader at another school. Though the key people at their schools know they are visiting Ascension, we need to provide them some level of confidentiality, which is why we are not naming the candidates at this point. Their visits to campus, however, will be public.
Representative groups from Ascension’s administration, faculty, parents, and students will meet with the finalists. After meeting with the candidates, we will solicit their feedback through a survey. The Search Committee will incorporate their comments and impressions in its deliberations when it selects a finalist to recommend to the Board of Trustees. The committee anticipates making its recommendation by Friday, November 2, 2018.
Search Committee Chair
Search Update - October 2018
October 8, 2018
Dear Ascension Community,
Over the past few weeks, members of the Search Committee received documents representing the applications of nearly two dozen strong candidates recommended by our consultants from Southern Teachers. Committee members reviewed the files and met for a thoughtful discussion that yielded a strong field of semi-finalists.
All but one semi-finalist visited Ascension and the Lafayette area for interviews with the Search Committee and a driving tour of the school. These candidates were also individually taken to dinner by small groups of Board and Search Committee members. A Skype interview of one semi-finalist was conducted due to logistical difficulties preventing an in-person visit.
Following the last candidate visit, the Search Committee deliberated and selected a group of finalist candidates who have the enthusiastic support of all committee members. We are delighted to invite each of these finalists for a two-day visit during the last weeks of October (schedules are being finalized now) and are eager to show off our school by introducing them to our community and giving them an in-depth view of who we are and how we live our mission. We hope as many of you as possible will meet the candidates and take the opportunity to learn more about each another. Details regarding their visits will be available soon.
The Committee is thrilled with the search process thus far and confident that the final step of bringing our best candidates to Ascension will, in the end, deliver a new leader who will do great things for our community.
Search Committee Chair
Head of School Search Update - August 2018
August 23, 2018
Dear Ascension Family:
As you know, Ascension Episcopal School’s Board of Trustees has appointed and charged a Search Committee with the critical responsibility of finding our next Head of School. Our committee has made significant first steps toward having a new Head in place by July 2019.
Our consultant at Southern Teachers visited Lafayette in June and met with several school parents, students, staff members, and the Search Committee. Although the information he gathered was extremely helpful in producing the position profile, we want to bring in more voices to help guide the Committee. Accordingly, Southern Teachers has prepared a survey for the entire Ascension community to help describe the culture that makes our school unique and to gather more input on the traits we would like to see in our next Head of School.
Please click HERE to complete the survey no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, September 4.
We very much appreciate your participation! With your input, the assistance of the professionals at Southern Teachers, and the Search Committee’s diligence, we are committed to finding the best fit for our next Head of School.
Search Committee Chair
Head of School Search Update - July 2018
July 24, 2018
Dear Ascension Family,
We continue to make progress in the search for our next Head of School. The Search Committee, in partnership with Southern Teachers, crafted a Position Profile that summarizes Ascension and our community and outlines the goals and responsibilities for our next Head of School. The Position Profile is designed to ensure that our Head of School leadership opportunity is presented and marketed effectively to the most qualified candidates.
Though every search is unique, and these dates could change, we are working with the following timeline moving forward:
Summer – Advertise position and build a candidate pool
September – Search Committee interviews semi-finalist candidates
October – Finalist candidates visit campus
Early November – Search Committee proposes a candidate to Board of Trustees
Late November – Board announces new Head of School to Ascension community
July 1, 2019 – New Head of School officially begins
While Southern Teachers will be using their extensive networks to build a candidate pool, we also welcome nominations from our school community. If you know of someone whom you believe would serve Ascension well based on this Position Profile, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may follow up.
We want and encourage your input regarding Ascension and the qualities and traits sought in the next Head of School. To that end, please look in your inbox soon for information regarding a community survey. We hope as many people as possible will participate.
Search Committee Chair
Head of School Search Process FAQAscension Episcopal School Head of School Search
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is leading the search process?
The Board of Trustees is responsible for selecting and hiring the next Head of School. To facilitate the search process, the Board created a search committee to accept and assess candidate applications and recommend an outstanding applicant to the Board. Recognizing that selecting our next leader is a critical milestone for the school, the Board has engaged Southern Teachers Agency (ST) to serve as consultants. ST will be an invaluable resource throughout the entire process, from development and posting of the job description through final selection of the new Head of School and assisting in the transition.
Who is on the Search Committee?
- Brad Felder (Committee Chair): Ascension parent (8th grade); Immediate Past Board Chair; former Vestry Member; past Senior Warden for Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Attorney, Veazey Felder & Renegar
- Charon Harris: Ascension parent (11th grade); former Board Chair, former Search Committee Member, Executive Vice President of Operations, Assured Partners/Landry Harris & Co.
- Greg Rizzuto: Ascension parent (5th and 9th grades); current Board Member, Director of Benefits and Talent Acquisition, IBERIABANK
- David Edmond:Ascension parent (6th and 8th grades), CPA, Director of Tax Services, Postlethwaite & Netterville
- Dr. Toni Leoni:Ascension parent (7th, 10th, and 12th grades), Pediatrician
- John Mendell: Ascension Day School alumnus; Ascension parent (4th, 6th, and 7th grades), Chief Financial Officer/Principal, YPS Anesthesia
- Suzy Lynch-Cummings: Parent of alumnus; faculty member, Retired River Ranch Campus Director
- Adrian Boyle: Ascension grandparent (6th grade), Director of Finance, Ascension Episcopal School
- Dr. Jeanette Parker - Parent of alumni, Board Trustee Emeritus, Founder, Ascension Day School
What is the expected timeline for the search process?
- Summer: Advertise position and build candidate pool
- September: Search committee interviews semi-finalist candidates
- October: Finalist candidates visit campus
- Early November: Search committee proposes leading candidate to Board of Trustees
- Late November: Board announces new Head to school community
- July 1, 2019: New Head of School officially begins
What is the Position Profile?
The Position Profile is the document that will be used to market Ascension and the Head of School position. It was created using the information obtained from a wide variety of community members. This profile has been disseminated nationally and internationally, through advertising media (such as educational leadership organizations) and the consultants’ networks. Click hereto see the Position Profile.
What is the role of the search committee?
The search committee’s role is to direct the search process. The committee vetted and proposed ST for Board approval, coordinated the input from the school’s varied constituent groups, and worked with ST on creating the Position Profile. The committee will work with ST on narrowing the candidate pool at the semi-finalist stage and will interview those candidates, then will again narrow the field and interview the finalists. The committee will propose its top candidate to the Board for selection as the new Head of School. Upon the Board’s approval, the committee will help to facilitate the leadership transition. One of the primary responsibilities of the search committee is to keep the school community informed and engaged throughout the entire search process, while respecting the confidentiality of the candidate recruitment process.
What is the role of Southern Teachers?
The ST consultants will advise the search committee throughout the process, based on their years of experience in the industry. They helped create the Position Profile, which they have used to market the Head of School position. Over the coming weeks, ST will interview candidates
and check references before presenting dossiers for a pool of candidates to the search committee. The consultants will help prepare the search committee and other groups for semi-finalist and finalist interviews and facilitate the flow of feedback between the candidates and the committee. Finally, they will advise the search committee during the transition period.
What is the role of the Board of Trustees?
The Board is responsible for hiring the next head of school. Trustees will meet the finalist candidates in the fall and, acting upon the recommendation of the search committee, approve the appointment of Ascension’s next Head of School. In making its decision, the Board will ensure that the next Head of school is the best fit for Ascension, based on the school’s areas of focus and the Board’s strategic plan.
What is the role of Dr. Pat Taylor?
In his capacity as Interim Head. Dr. Taylor’s primary focus will be to lead the school and implement existing strategic priorities though the 2018-19 school year. During this year, he will also be working with Southern Teachers to identify and recruit top candidates, and he will meet with the finalist candidates when they visit the campus to share his insight about the school’s operations and programs. Once a contract has been finalized, Dr. Taylor will work with the new Head of School throughout the transition process.
What is the role of parents?
Representatives of the parent community were invited to participate in focus group sessions facilitated by our ST consultants, and parents will be asked to participate in an online survey. A group of parents will be invited to a Q&A session with the finalist candidates in the fall.Additionally, parents are heavily represented on the search committee, which includes six current parents. Throughout the search process, parents are encouraged to share their thoughts and questions with the search committee via email at email@example.com.
What is the role of faculty and staff?
Faculty and staff will be actively engaged during the search. Faculty members met with the ST consultants in the summer and will be asked to participate in the online survey. Additionally, faculty and staff will be invited to meet the finalist candidates during their on-campus visits in the fall.
What is the role of students?
Upper School Prefects and Middle School SGA students were invited to meet with our ST consultants, to share their thoughts on what makes Ascension special and what qualities they would like to see in the next Head of School. Student insights will be sought again in the fall when the finalist candidates are on campus.
For additional information, contact Search Committee Chair Brad Felder, firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Pat Taylor, email@example.com.
Head of Search Committee Announcment March 2018
March 28, 2018
Dear Ascension Family,
Before the Easter break, we wanted to update you on our school’s progress. We are pleased to announce that the Board has established the Search Committee for your next Head of School. The various members of the committee were chosen based on their unique skills, backgrounds, and perspectives they will bring to the search process.
The following have graciously accepted the call to serve on our Head of School Search Committee:
- Brad Felder (Committee Chair) - Ascension parent (8th grade), immediate past Board Chair, former vestry member and past Senior Warden for Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Attorney, Veazey Felder & Renegar
- Charon Harris - Ascension parent (11th grade), former Board Chair, Executive Vice President of Operations, Assured Partners/Landry Harris & Co.
- Greg Rizzuto - Ascension parent (5th and 9th grades), current Board Member, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, IBERIABANK
- David Edmond - Ascension parent (6th and 8th grades), CPA, Director of Tax Services, Postlethwaite & Netterville
- Dr. Toni Leoni - Ascension parent (7th, 10th, and 12th grades), Pediatrician
- John Mendell - Ascension Day School Alumnus, Ascension parent (4th, 6th, and 7th grades), current Varsity Golf Coach, Chief Financial Officer/Principal, YPS Anesthesia
- Suzy Lynch-Cummings - Parent of alumnus, faculty member, and current River Ranch Campus Director (30+ years of service to Ascension)
- Adrian Boyle - Ascension Episcopal School Director of Finance and Ascension grandparent (6th grade)
- Dr. Jeanette Parker - Founder of Ascension Episcopal School, parent of alumni, and Board Trustee Emeritus
We promise to keep you informed throughout the various stages of our search, and we welcome your questions and input. Our sincere hope is to make this process as inclusive as possible for our school community.
The Faculty, Administration, and Board of Ascension Episcopal School remain committed to our mission of providing educational excellence in a Christian environment. Which is why, this month, the Southwest Association of Episcopal School renewed our accreditation through 2024. We appreciate your trust and share your desire to ensure that Ascension continues its path as a faithful community of learning.
With prayers for a Blessed Easter,
Jerry Vascocu, Board Chair
The Reverend Joseph Daly, Rector