The hiring of a new headmaster at Pinkerton Academy isn’t something that happens every day. Long tenure is a hallmark of the post.
So it is commendable that Pinkerton is seeking input from the communities that send students to the private academy on what people would like to see in the school’s next leader.
Headmaster Mary Anderson plans to retire at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. The fact that her contract requires her to give two years notice demonstrates the seriousness in which the Pinkerton trustees hold the headmaster search process.
The school has formed a Headmaster Search Advisory Committee that includes superintendents and residents of Pinkerton’s contracted towns of Derry, Hampstead, Chester and Auburn, along with faculty, staff, students and administration members. The committee, along with the trustees, has asked for input from school officials, parents, students and teachers in its sending towns.
It is clear that Pinkerton is proceeding carefully with the search. The nearly 200-year-old school has only had three official headmasters dating back to the 1940s — Ivah Hackler, Bradford Ek and Anderson.
Trustee and search committee member William Nevious said everyone’s contribution was welcome as part of the process.
“We have not had a lot of experience in a hunt for a headmaster,” Nevious told reporter Julie Huss. “And everyone we interview will have a unique personality.”
At a public forum, community members were eager to tell the search committee what they are looking for in a new headmaster. Leadership and approachability were among the notable qualities.
Pinkerton Alumni Association member George Tsetsilas said a new headmaster should have leadership skills to be able to run a big business — and Pinkerton, he said, is like a business.
Teachers John Breda and Lanie Buskey are part of the search committee. They said a headmaster has to communicate well to keep the staff morale up and help foster passion for what they do, Huss reported.
“They should not only have an office in the ‘main’ house, but maybe another office closer to campus, with an open door policy,” Buskey said. “This would help motivate and inspire us to be better teachers.”
Chester resident Lorna Hazelton said a new leader should appreciate the school’s long history. Her children graduated from Pinkerton with a strong sense of family and tradition, she said.
“It’s important that Pinkerton doesn’t lose sight of that down the road,” she said. “You get so focused on the educational aspects, but if you are going to have control and impact over 3,200 students, one way is to let them know the history. If you lose that, you lose it everywhere.”
Nevious said both internal and external candidates will be considered for the job. Anderson herself had a 28-year career at Pinkerton before being named headmaster in 2003.
“We are in the beginning stages,” Nevious told Huss. “We will not rush through this process.”
That’s a wise choice. Pinkerton needs a headmaster who is committed to a long relationship with the school. Long tenure brings consistency and stability to the school’s leadership. That has helped Pinkerton Academy prosper since 1815. It is what will keep the school educating the region’s young minds for the next 200 years.