Head of School Search
On Nov. 18, Spartanburg Day School's seventh head of school, Rachel Deems, announced that the 2022-23 academic year will be her final year at SDS. The Board of Trustees has announced that a search committee will lead the school through the search process with a goal of welcoming a new head of school in July 2023.
As the Head of School search progresses, please refer to this page for updated communications and information.
Head of School Search Communications
- Letter from Search Committee Chair Michel Stone | Nov. 29, 2021
- Letter from Board of Trustees President Jaime Wall | Nov. 18, 2021
- Letter from Head of School Rachel Deems | Nov. 18, 2021
Dear Spartanburg Day School community,
On behalf of the board of trustees, I am pleased to provide an update regarding our head of school search. With Head of School Rachel Deems’s announcement that 2022-23 will be her final year at Spartanburg Day School, I was honored to accept the board’s nomination to chair the search for our next head of school. As an SDS parent and sustaining member of the board, I am truly thankful for Rachel’s decade of leadership and for the opportunity to lead this important process.
After researching more than 25 search firms, eight were carefully selected as best suited to guide SDS through our search process. Last week, those eight firms received a request for proposal (RFP), inviting them to submit their proposals by Dec. 10.
I have asked Trustee Mark VanGeison and Sustaining Trustee Charlotte Verreault to join Board President Jaime Wall and me to serve as a transition committee to carefully review those proposals and select finalists by Dec. 20. We plan to interview finalists the week of Jan. 3-7 with plans to announce our search consultant the following week. Upon hiring the search firm, we will work with our consultant to form a search committee to lead this process and ultimately recommend the next head of school to the board of trustees by fall 2022. The incoming head will assume the role on July 1, 2023.
It is very important to me that all SDS constituents have the opportunity to participate in this process; your input will guide our work in the coming months. As such, we will structure this process to facilitate a broad-based, inclusive, and thoughtful selection while balancing candidate confidentiality to encourage the widest range of interest.
If you have questions or feedback regarding the search process, please direct them to email@example.com, which has been established exclusively for the SDS head of school search. You can also find updates and information on our website.
Rachel’s inspired leadership over the past decade has transformed SDS and has put us in an extraordinarily strong position to attract the finest candidates for our next head of school. I remain deeply grateful to her for her outstanding leadership, and, on a personal note, for the phenomenal educational experiences afforded my three children during her tenure.
Thank you for your support.
Head of School Search Committee Chair
Dear Spartanburg Day School community,
For the past 10 years, Spartanburg Day School has been extremely fortunate to benefit from the leadership and tireless dedication of Head of School Rachel Deems. The 2022-23 academic year will be Rachel’s last year with us; however, the transformational impact of her leadership will endure for many years to come. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to express our deep gratitude for and admiration of her numerous and significant contributions. Fortunately, and not surprisingly, Rachel has generously and thoughtfully provided us considerable advance notice so that we can conduct a successful search while she continues to lead the school during this time.
While Rachel will be deeply missed by our community, we look forward to celebrating her many achievements over the next 20 months. We are grateful to have a leader who champions academics, athletics, and the arts, successfully attracts and retains a high-quality faculty, and embodies and promotes SDS’s mission and values in all her endeavors. Please join me in celebrating the remarkable accomplishments at SDS during Rachel’s tenure:
- Propelled endowment growth from $4 million in 2012 to approximately $38 million at the conclusion of the current endowment campaign. SDS's endowment per student far exceeds peer schools.
- Achieved strong enrollment (533 current students) with 2021-22 having the highest opening enrollment in 19 years.
- Welcomed the largest number of new students in 40 years in 2021-22 while achieving 9 percent attrition, significantly below the national average for independent schools of 12 percent.
- Consistently exceeded the Annual Fund goal for total funds raised of over $5.6 million.
- Led the Board of Trustees in forming a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Steering Committee composed of students, faculty, parents, division heads, trustees, and alumni. In 2021-22, 31 percent of new students are students of color.
- Empowered excellent outcomes for graduating seniors with 97 percent of the Class of 2021 admitted to one of their top three colleges.
- Championed growth of and success in athletics with teams winning 29 state championships.
- Navigated four years of national and international media while supporting a high-profile Division 1 recruit and the No. 1 NBA draft choice.
- Realized $1.7 million in capital improvements of the East Campus, including the Bob Allsbrook Tennis Complex.
- Renovated the Mildred H. Dent Fine Arts Center and increased endowed funds to support fine arts and fine arts scholarships.
The Board of Trustees will establish a search committee, chaired by board member and SDS parent Michel Stone, to hire our next Head of School. The committee will lead a national search in partnership with a third-party search consultant, and the incoming head will assume the role on July 1, 2023. It is the intention of the search committee to communicate often with the SDS community via email and through our Head of School Search web page (www.spartanburgdayschool.org/headsearch). The search committee, in conjunction with our consultant, will solicit feedback from all constituents regarding your views on the search, the current state of SDS, and your hopes for the next head of school. Please expect to hear from Michel Stone in the upcoming weeks with more details on the search process. If you have any questions throughout the search, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of the entire Spartanburg Day School community, I extend my heartfelt appreciation to Rachel for her exceptional service. As a result of Rachel’s efforts, SDS has a phenomenally strong foundation and the organizational capabilities to ensure her successor is in a superb position to capitalize on our tremendous momentum.
President, Spartanburg Day School Board of Trustees
Dear Spartanburg Day School Community,
If our lives are books in which many chapters are written, then we know those chapters have a beginning and an ending. Happily, a chapter’s end often leads to another’s beginning – one with great expectations of what lies ahead. I am writing today to share with you that the 2022-23 academic year will be my final year at the Day School. In June of 2023, I will have served for 11 years as your Head of School, a chapter of my life that has been written and in which all of you have played significant parts. What a joy it has been to serve and lead at Spartanburg Day School.
The Day School has been home since July 2012, and every day since my arrival I have been aware of the honor and privilege afforded to me to lead and learn alongside our faculty and students. The relationships developed and the memories made will remain a highlight of my professional and personal life long beyond my tenure with you. Thank you for welcoming Ken, Morgan Guice, and me and for the friendships formed and the support over the years.
This decision comes at a time when the Day School is in a strong position for a transition. Enrollment is at its highest in almost 20 years, the endowment has surpassed strategic goals and is on track to surpass $38 million over the next several years, and the faculty are among the most talented, creative, and committed professionals with whom I have had the pleasure of working alongside. Our board of trustees will be able to capitalize on these strengths and have the benefit of 20 months to plan and execute a search for the next head of school. We share a common goal and priority for a successful transition in leadership.
While we have accomplished much during this past decade, none of it compares to the daily work of our faculty who have provided an exceptional preschool-12th grade education and experience for their students. They, and all who work alongside them, are committed to the mission of SDS and to the fulfillment of that mission in every student. What a pleasure it has been to experience this daily for the past 10 years.
And now, the months before me will be focused on fulfilling our remaining strategic priorities and preparing for the next leadership of our school. Thank you for your unwavering and generous support over my years with you and for your continued commitment to the success of Spartanburg Day School. Being a Griffin is a treasure – a treasure to secure for our current students and for future generations. I will always cherish my years as a Griffin, and I look forward to personally sharing my profound gratitude to you in the months ahead.
Rachel S. Deems
Head of School