Head of School Search
April 7, 2021
Dear Canterbury Community,
I am pleased to announce that J. Harrison Stuart has accepted the invitation of the Board of Trustees to be the next Head of Canterbury School, effective July 1, 2021. Harrison was selected unanimously and enthusiastically by our search committee and Board of Trustees, and he had the most widespread support from our community during his daylong virtual visit in March.
Harrison is uniquely qualified to serve as Canterbury’s next Head of School. A proven leader with experience ranging from the classroom to founding an Episcopal school, he is a visionary who will challenge Canterbury to lean into our mission as an Episcopal school and our motto, “To Learn. To Love. To Serve: To Live.” His energetic and compassionate leadership style will help Canterbury provide the best possible education for all children and help them succeed from their first day on campus.
A native of Lexington, Ky., Harrison is a graduate of Woodberry Forest School, Hampden-Sydney College, and Belmont University, where he earned his M.Ed. in nonprofit leadership. Following roles as 6th grade teacher and Director of Development at Episcopal School of Knoxville, as well as Director of Admissions and Enrollment at Woodberry Forest, he has served for the past six years as the founding Head of School at Episcopal School of Nashville.
He has shaped Episcopal School from the ground up, growing the student body from 16 students in 2016 to 130 or more in 2021-22, and from three faculty members to more than 25 next year. Above all, he helped create a school community with a focus on equity, inclusion, spirituality, and a commitment to each student. He believes deeply in developing a school culture that values each community member’s gifts and talents.
Harrison and his wife, Katherine, president of an independent school consulting firm, have four children: Teddy - 6th, Jack - 4th, Lillian - 1st, and Kate - 1st. They are an active family, enjoying outdoor sports such as hiking, camping, and mountain biking.
This announcement is the culmination of a national search that began earlier this year. A search committee, chaired by Canterbury parent Adrienne Woods, vice-president of the Board of Trustees, was tasked with managing the process of selecting the next Head of School. In addition, the board partnered with Educators’ Collaborative, an independent school administrator search firm, to assist with the process.
The resulting search process was rapid but thorough, interviewing five qualified candidates before selecting two finalists and seeking input from every constituency group in the Canterbury community. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I extend my deep gratitude to all members of our community for your commitment to this search process and for your invaluable and thoughtful feedback. I’d also like to offer special thanks to Adrienne, whose dedication and unique talents have made this successful outcome possible for Canterbury.
Harrison has a national reputation as one of the most gifted up-and-coming leaders in Episcopal schools, and we are fortunate that he has chosen Canterbury as his next school home. Please join me in celebrating and welcoming Harrison, Katherine, and their children to Canterbury School. We are delighted they are joining us and look forward to a bright future with Harrison as our next Head of School.
Board of Trustees President
Letter from Harrison Stuart
Dear Canterbury Community,
I am delighted beyond measure to accept this opportunity to become Canterbury School’s next Head of School! We will greatly miss our community at Episcopal School of Nashville, but our family felt an incredible sense of calling to join Canterbury as we worked through the search process.
Canterbury has cultivated a strong mission of service to developing the whole child within an inclusive and spirited school culture. As I engaged with Canterbury’s happy students these past few weeks, I experienced an authentic sense that the school is living this mission each and every day.
There is no question that Canterbury School is well-positioned for the future, and we will work tirelessly to maintain and grow our strong reputation within the Triad’s independent school market.
On behalf of our family, thank you for this wonderful opportunity; we are both humbled and eager to be in Greensboro! I look forward to seeing you soon.
The Search Committee for Canterbury's next Head of School will listen to community concerns and suggestions, meet often with our search firm, learn about each candidate, interview all potential finalists, and ultimately recommend finalists for the Canterbury community to meet and evaluate. Weighing community feedback, the committee will make a hiring recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
Search Committee members include current and past Board members who have a passion for Canterbury and have graciously volunteered to participate in this incredibly important process. The Search Committee’s goal is to be as transparent as possible while maintaining the confidentiality the candidates must have to participate in the search process.
Search Committee members are:
- Dan Barker, former Board member and alumni parent
- Beth Heinzelmann, 2020-21 CPA President
- Harriette Knox, current Board member, alumni parent, and former staff member
- Hank Lovvorn, Board President and alumni parent
- Jane Pope, current Board member, current and alumni parent
- Will Sydnor, current Board member and current parent
- Adrienne Woods, Board Vice President and current parent
- Milton Williams, current Board member and Episcopal priest
Community Survey Results
We invited current and alumni parents, faculty and staff members, and board members to participate in the search process by completing a survey to share their thoughts, opinions, concerns, and hopes for the future. Click here to view the survey results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have a question that is not answered here? Feel free to email Search Committee Chair Adrienne Woods at email@example.com.
How long will it take to find a new head of school?
Our hope is to find a new head who can start July 1, 2021. Our very experienced search consultants have said that this is possible because many heads of school who were thinking about looking for new opportunities last year held off and stayed to see their schools through COVID. Now, they are considering a move and the pool of candidates is strong, even this late in the school year. However, if we do not find the perfect person quickly, we will hire an interim for next school year. Our search consultants have assured us that there is a fantastic pool of interim heads available, also.
How can I be involved in the search?
Nearly everything will happen through electronic means. The input of all Canterbury groups – parents, faculty and staff, alumni, donors, friends – is an important part of identifying the qualities we want in the next Head of School. A survey, open through March 8, invites initial thoughts. Mary and Doug, our search consultants, will conduct listening sessions with various groups to learn more about Canterbury’s strengths and opportunities. When finalists are identified, members of the school community will be invited to meet the candidates through Zoom sessions and provide feedback with their impressions of each finalist.
How often will we receive updates about the search?
Our goal is to update our Canterbury family weekly. We might not always have a lot to report; however, we want to provide as much information as we can for those who want to follow the process closely. Updates will be emailed and posted on this page.
When will we get to meet the candidates?
The search committee will bring finalists to the Canterbury community via Zoom. We are all very used to Zooming by now and we hope that while we can't all meet in person, you will take advantage of the opportunity to learn about the candidates via these sessions. During the Zoom sessions, you will have an opportunity to ask questions. Immediately after you attend a meet-the-candidate Zoom session, you will receive a short survey asking your opinions on the candidate based on the session. We cannot stress the importance of these surveys enough. Everyone's opinion matters!
Will our faculty be involved in the search?
Of course! Our faculty will meet the finalists during the same week as parents. We will do individual Zoom sessions as well as small advisory sessions. The post-Zoom faculty survey will be different from the parent survey because the relationship and type of support our faculty needs from our Head of School is unique to that group.
What is the role of the search firm? How were they chosen?
A subgroup of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees interviewed six national search firms, reviewing proposals and conducting reference checks. The group unanimously recommended to the Executive Committee hiring Educators’ Collaborative, which is nationally-known and specializes in finding heads for independent schools. Our consultants, Doug Jennings and Mary Seppala, have both been heads of school and have many years of experience conducting national searches. Doug and Mary will help guide the search committee on logistics, procedures, and best practices. They will screen candidates, check references, and help the Search Committee with the interview process. They also provide transition support to a new Head of School for a year following a hire.
What should we tell our kids?
Your children will probably have questions about this process. First, Mr. Spears is here until we leave for summer break, so nothing will change for them during school. He will continue to tell jokes, be in carpool line, teach debate class -- all of it. We recommend letting your children know that a small group of Canterbury volunteers are leading an interview process that will bring the next Canterbury Head of School to their school as soon as the absolute best candidate is chosen.
What if I have concerns that I want to share?
We are happy to talk with you about concerns. We may not have all the answers but we are available to the community. Feel free to contact Adrienne Woods, chair of the Search Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.