Allendale Columbia School

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Dear Members of the Allendale Columbia Community,

Welcome to the 130th year at Allendale Columbia School! There is much to share with all of you, so please take the time to read this to be fully informed.

We’re so excited to welcome our 98 new students and their families to the AC Community! For all of you, I’m Ann Balderston and I’m the Co-chair of the Board of Trustees as well as a past parent who is forever grateful for the experience that our three children had at Allendale Columbia. Our Board of Trustees is comprised of parents, alumni, and past parents who are dedicated to this school and its community. We are pleased to have you here and know that you will become increasingly proud of the decision you have made to enroll your child at Allendale Columbia.

These past few months have been a challenge for all of us. In choosing Allendale Columbia, parents can be confident that under any circumstances, their child’s safety and education are the priority of the Leadership Team, Faculty and Staff at AC. From our proactive decision last March to move to remote learning to our careful and comprehensive plan for returning to in person learning a couple short weeks ago, we consistently make decisions that are in the best interests of our students and their well-being.

Financial Overview
As many of you are aware, we ended the 2019-2020 school year in the black with no draw from the endowment and raised over 4 million dollars for the school. Our goal is to continue that trend but with a reduced annual giving goal. Due to significant COVID related expenses, the Board and Leadership Team are working on a revised budget and are confident that we will continue with strong financials for the coming year.

Search for a Permanent Head of School
This year, we are embarking on a search for a permanent Head of School. After our former Head of School, Mick Gee, announced he had accepted a new position at another independent school in Utah last year, we began a nationwide search for an Interim Head for the 2020-2021 school year. We could not be more fortunate to have Shannon Baudo as our Interim Head this year. Dedication is not a strong enough word to describe Shannon’s work for AC. She has a strong background in admissions and served as our Assistant Head of School last year. Her commitment extends to finding a strong Head for AC’s future.

The Board has retained Carney Sandoe and Associates, a highly regarded national search firm, to work closely with the AC Head of School Search Committee to find and evaluate candidates for the permanent Head of School position.

The members of the Search Committee are:

  • Ann Balderston, Search Chair, Board Co-Chair, past parent
  • Diana Clarkson, Former Trustee, ’02
  • Ralph Dandrea, Trustee, current parent
  • Tina Duver, Head of Middle School, current and past parent
  • Dodie Gumaer, Trustee, ’78
  • Amy Leibeck, Trustee, past parent
  • Elizabeth Murray, Trustee, current parent
  • Tony Tepedino, Faculty member, Student Success Team, Director of Professional Development
  • Marie Timpani, PACK President, current parent
  • Jenn Truong, Faculty member, current parent
  • Jill Wynn, Trustee, current and past parent

In forming the committee, representation from all of our constituent groups was a top priority. We will keep you informed on our progress through regular email communication. Our goal is to be transparent and inclusive.

Search Process
We are in the process of creating a position profile that will be used to inform candidates of the responsibilities, strengths, and needs of the Allendale Columbia community. Peter O’Neill and Janet Durgin, our consultants from Carney Sandoe, will conduct a Zoom site visit to meet with representatives of the faculty and staff, parents, alumni, friends of the school, and the Board of Trustees on September 30th and October 1st. All members of the AC community will be given the opportunity to fill out an online survey to share their thoughts on the desired and/or necessary qualities for the next Head of School. We will be sending out the survey soon. This information will be critical to the creation of the position profile.

When the position profile is complete, there will be a period of active recruitment and development of a candidate pool. Carney Sandoe has an extensive network of potential candidates and more are likely to express an interest in our school when they learn about the vibrancy and strength of our community.

After extensive research and conversations with many candidates, our consultants will present an initial pool of highly qualified candidates to the Search Committee for review. Semi-finalists will be selected from that group and will be scheduled for in-depth interviews with the Search Committee. Typically three to four finalists will be selected from the group and will be invited to AC for a two-day period of interviews, town hall meetings and exchange of ideas. Please note: The process will be entirely confidential as we review the first pool of candidates and during the review of the semi-finalists to protect their current employment. The finalist process will be open, transparent, and inclusive, and the finalists will all be introduced to the full AC community.

After the community provides feedback on our final candidates, the Search Committee will make a recommendation of the strongest candidate to the Board of Trustees. Once approved, the Board will offer the position to the person who can best lead Allendale Columbia for the coming years.

We anticipate that we will have a formal announcement of our final decision by early next year. In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to take every opportunity to participate in this process, which will be ongoing throughout the fall.

Our consultants are extremely impressed with the accomplishments of the past 15 months... we are resilient, forward thinking, and confident in our future. Whoever becomes our next Head of School will be a fortunate person, indeed. Of great importance is a huge THANK YOU to our Leadership Team, faculty, and staff for the remarkable work they put into guaranteeing that AC gives our students the most comprehensive educational experience.

Lastly, I want to share that my Co-Chair, Richard Yates, is focused on a family health issue and sends his best. We wish him and his family well.

If you have any questions about the Head of School search process or anything else related to Allendale Columbia, please feel free to reach out to me.

All the best,


Ann W. Balderston P'04, P'07, P'10
Co-Chair, Board of Trustees

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