Head of School Search

“Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to guide us;
then we will act on the Spirit’s gentle inspiration.”

~ St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

June 16, 2015 | Head of School Posting

Founded in 1929, Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School is an independent Catholic school for girls and boys in grades JK3-6 and for young women in grades 7-12, with a total enrollment of more than 600 students. Through its membership in the Sacred Heart Network, Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School is linked to an international family of more than 200 schools, all governed by the same philosophical framework. These values infuse the school culture, creating a close-knit, caring, and faith-filled community that inspires students to strive, succeed, and serve others.

Deeply rooted in the Goals and Criteria of the Society of the Sacred Heart, Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School’s comprehensive educational program is carefully designed to support academic excellence while also promoting the spiritual, social, and ethical growth of each child.

Situated on an extraordinarily beautiful and well-maintained 60-acre campus in suburban Saint Louis, the school is debt-free and has a $10 million endowment. A new $1.2 million state-of-the-art artificial turf field will be completed this summer, a recent example of the passionate support of its families and alumni/ae that the school has enjoyed for many generations.

For a position to begin in July of 2016, the Board of Trustees is seeking an inspiring, collaborative, wise, and experienced Catholic educational leader who will embrace the school’s cherished values and traditions while positioning Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School to thrive in an increasingly competitive and ever-changing educational marketplace.

Wickenden Associates (www.wickenden.com) of Princeton, NJ, is assisting Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School in this search.  The lead consultants are Jo Butler (jbutler@wickenden.com) and Jim Wickenden (jwickenden@wickenden.com). Both may be reached at (609) 683-1355. Please do not contact the school directly.


Link to Opportunity Statement: http://www.wickenden.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Villa-Duchesne-and-Oak-Hill-School-Opportunity-Statement.pdf

May 27, 2015 | Search Committee Letter

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

As our school year comes to a close, the Head of School Search Committee would like to update you on our process and timeline.

Two weeks ago, Jim Wickenden and Jo Butler of Wickenden Associates visited our campus. Over the course of two days, they heard our students, parents, alumnae, faculty, staff, and trustees thoughtfully articulate our greatest strengths and challenges and the qualities we require in our next Head of School.

Jim and Jo are currently consolidating the information gathered from those meetings, as well as from the earlier online survey sent to the school community, into an Opportunity Statement. Once this statement has been reviewed by the Search and Advisory Committees, it will be posted on our website and we will begin formally accepting applications for the Head of School position. Over the summer, Wickenden Associates will actively seek and sort through their candidate applications as well as follow up on recommendations they have received. In the early fall, Wickenden Associates will begin working with the Search Committee to identify and meet with potential semi-finalists. At that time, we will provide you with another update.

During our community sessions, many people expressed a desire for clear and open communication during the search process. In response, the Search Committee has created a Head of School Search webpage at www.vdoh.org/HeadSearch. This webpage includes all communications that have been sent to our community to date as well as information about our Search Committee and Advisory Committee. The page will also feature links to the Wickeden Associates website and to the community survey where you can still submit your comments and recommendations regarding the next Head of School.

We are grateful for your support and encourage you to send any questions or concerns to headsearch@vdoh.org. Wishing you and your families a blessed and restful summer.

Michelle Borst Hand ’88
Search Committee Chair

May 1, 2015 | Search Committee Letter

Dear Sacred Heart Family

As we approach a change in leadership in June of 2016, we know that this time of transition can create uncertainty and concern.  We want to update you on how the Board of Trustees is responding to this challenge and an overview of the search process we intend to follow in the months ahead.  This process, rooted in discernment, due diligence, and clear communication, offers our community a way to transform uncertainty into an opportunity for discovery and renewal.  We have begun by forming a Search Committee of Trustees, which will be supported by an Advisory Committee of educators, parents, and alumnae.

Head of School Search Committee

  • Michelle Borst Hand ’88, Search Committee Chair
  • Tim George, Board Secretary
  • Carol Haggarty, RSCJ, Trustee
  • Beth Lenke, Board Chair
  • Geeta Soorya Swaminathan ’87, Trustee
  • Joe Walsh, Board Vice-Chair
  • Tony Waskiewicz, Board Treasurer

The Board of Trustees has retained the highly respected educational consulting firm of Wickenden Associates to assist in the search.  Jim Wickenden and his Senior Search Consultant, Jo Butler, will be visiting the school on May 12 and 13, 2015 to conduct a series of interviews with representatives of each of the school’s constituencies. You will have the opportunity during this meeting to share your thoughts about our school’s strengths and challenges as well as the qualities we should be seeking in our next Head of School.  The information you provide will help to develop a thorough understanding of our leadership requirements and an opportunity statement for our potential candidates.  

Please know that your participation in the Head of School search process is welcomed and very important. If you cannot attend the scheduled faculty and staff meeting, we encourage you to complete our electronic survey. The online form may also be used to suggest potential candidates.

Wickenden Associates has conducted more than 300 Head of School searches since 1986 for independent schools across the nation. Jim Wickenden, the firm’s President, is very familiar with our Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria, having served as trustee at Stuart Country Day School in Princeton, New Jersey.  He led the search for their new Head of School in addition to Schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco.

Our committee is grateful for your prayers and support as we begin this important work with you on behalf of Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School. We are committed to keeping you informed each step of the way. If you have any questions in the meantime, you may reach us at headsearch@vdoh.org.

Michelle Borst Hand ’88
Search Committee Chair

March 31, 2015 | Letter from Board Chair

“Go on advancing, you are on the true road. Remember, it is not you who have taken it but God who has placed you there.”  ~ St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

As our school community prepares to partake in this holy time of reflection and renewal, I am reminded of the words of St. Madeleine Sophie. In her wisdom, she suggests that every step forward—if taken with humility, simplicity, and joy—is a step on the true road. For the last 22 months, we have walked this road with our Head of School, Elizabeth Miller.  She has worked tirelessly to pave the way for our School’s successes. In June of 2016, at the end of her current contract, Elizabeth has decided to embark on a new journey with her family. The Board of Trustees is grateful for the many blessings Elizabeth has brought to our school and her diligent efforts during her time with us.

Our journey forward begins with a search for a new Head of School.  A typical search takes between 12-14 months to complete. Thus, by informing us of her plans now, we have ample time to select and onboard her successor in a manner that ensures continuity and a smooth transition of responsibilities at our School’s executive level. Elizabeth has brought, and will continue to bring, well-honed skills as a leader, planner, and fundraiser.  As a result, her successor will begin with a well-positioned school, a talented faculty, staff, and leadership team, and a community anchored in the values of the Sacred Heart.

The Board of Trustees is taking the appropriate measures to begin the search for our new leader, who is expected to assume the role of Head of School by July 1, 2016.  We will select a Chair for the Search Committee in the coming weeks, and we are committed to keeping the community well apprised of each step of the search.

We are thrilled with the progress that has been made at the School during Elizabeth’s tenure, and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School. The Board of Trustees and the School remain dedicated to continuing the mission set forth by St. Madeleine Sophie Barat and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, to “walk trustfully” on this road God has set us upon together. We thank you for your prayerful support as we embark upon selecting our new Head of School, and please join us in wishing Elizabeth and her family well.

Beth Lenke
Chair, Board of Trustees

March 31, 2015 | Letter from Head of School

Dear Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School Community,

As we prepare to graduate the Class of 2015 and continue our planning for the upcoming 2015-2016 academic year, I am writing to let you know that after honoring my current commitment through June 30, 2016, I will be completing my service to the School.  I have made this decision after much discernment.  I am very grateful for the opportunity and all that you and this community have shared with me, particularly deepening my understanding of and living the Goals and Criteria.  Because I love our School and its mission, I am giving extended notice so that our Board of Trustees can search for—and identify—your next Head of School.

Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School is on a strong trajectory.  It is now poised for a smooth transition to its next leader.  We have so much to be thankful for—accomplishments of our school community—from our intensive two year re-accreditation process coming to a successful close in the next month to our upcoming groundbreaking for the world-class artificial turf field on Wednesday, April 15.  We have a school-wide Leadership Team that, as of July 2015, will now include our extremely talented Athletic Director and par excellence Director of Counseling.  Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School has much to proudly offer each boy, girl, and young woman in our care.

Although our family will leave the school in fifteen months, I am captivated by the meaningful work that we have begun together and the thoughtful plans that will be implemented by the Sacred Heart educator you choose to become the next leader of Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School.

Thank you for your partnership in our School.

Elizabeth Miller
Head of School

  • Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School
  • 801 South Spoede Road
  • Saint Louis, MO 63131-2699
  • (P) 314.432.2021
  • (F) 314.432.0199
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