Head of School Transition

Our Next Head of School

Dear Buckley Community,
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am thrilled to announce that Alona Scott will be the next head of The Buckley School as of July 1, 2019.
Her appointment is the result of a rigorous national recruitment effort aimed at finding the right leader to promote Buckley’s mission and well-rounded educational approach while ensuring we remain a first-rate learning institution.
A native Angeleno and alumna of Marlborough School, Ms. Scott holds an AB in religion from Princeton University (cum laude) and two masters in education – the first in reading and literacy from Bank Street College and another in private school education from Columbia University, Teachers College. Since 2013, she has been the Head of School at Keys School in Palo Alto. Prior to that, Ms. Scott served as the Director of Middle School at the Hackley School, in Tarrytown, New York, and the Head of the Lower School at La Jolla Country Day School, in La Jolla, California. She serves as a trustee at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos, where she is the co-chair of the rabbinic transition and vision committees, and a member of the strategic planning and trustee nomination committees.
These robust qualifications, along with an empathic approach to K-12 teaching and learning, innovative approach to pedagogy, and commitment to equity and inclusion united both the search committee and board of trustees, who voted unanimously for Alona’s appointment. We were also pleased to receive an overwhelmingly positive response from the entire Buckley community. A huge thank you for your active participation and feedback, which proved invaluable in the decision-making.
Alona, her husband Lacarya Scott, and their sons Mo (10) and Zeke (8) are very excited to move to Los Angeles and join the Buckley community.
Over the coming months, the board will work closely with Alona as she gets to know Buckley and together we will develop a plan that results in a smooth and successful onboarding. We also continue to be grateful for the strong leadership of Andrew Wooden, who will be an integral part of the transition. We are confident that we can all collaborate on completing a successful school year while looking to the future with great optimism. 
Valeria Rico Nikolov
The Buckley School Board of Trustees, chair


List of 7 items.

  • How will the Buckley community be kept informed about this search?

    Updates on the search will be provided on this dedicated web page as well as through direct communications with students, parent/guardians, faculty, alumni, and other members of our community.
  • During this leadership transition, will Buckley re-evaluate its mission?

    Buckley’s Board of Trustees remains fully committed to our mission, which articulates our guiding principles as we ensure that Buckley thrives for future generations.  
    The Buckley School is a dynamic, nurturing learning community committed to equity and inclusion. Our innovative teachers and challenging programs inspire creativity, courage, and collaboration. By promoting a balanced development of mind, body, and character, we encourage each student to find joy and meaning in life and make an impact in the world.
    The Board will charge the next Head of School with upholding and serving this mission. Read more about the mission here.
  • How is the search process being managed?

    The Board of Trustees is responsible for appointing the next Head of School. To aid in that process, the Board has established a Permanent Head of School Search Committee with trustee, faculty, and parent representation. Click here to see the Search Committee members. 
    The Search Committee is working with Resource Group 175 (RG 175), the national search firm engaged by the Board to assist in the search process. The two consultants to lead the search are Deborah Reed, an educator for 40 years and former Head of School of Polytechnic School, a K-12 school in Pasadena, and Tom Hudnut, a school head for over 36 years and former Head of School at Harvard-Westlake.
    The Search Committee will ultimately recommend the finalist Head of School candidate to the full Board of Trustees for vote and approval. 
  • How will faculty, staff, and parents be involved in the search process?

    Faculty, staff, parents, and other community members will play an important role in the search process. Deborah Reed and Tom Hudnut of RG175 were on campus April 24 and 25, meeting with over 200 members of the Buckley community – faculty, students, parents, and trustees – to gather information about the school community’s priorities and values for a permanent Head of School.

    In addition, they distributed an online survey on April 26 to all faculty, staff, current parents, guardians, and alumni. This survey invited respondents to share their thoughts about Buckley’s culture and feedback on the qualities our ideal permanent Head of School will possess. RG175 used the information gathered from the interviews and the survey to create a detailed and customized position statement. This position statement is posted on Buckley’s Head of School Search page, RG175’s website, and is currently being distributed by RG175 throughout the independent school world. 

    Throughout the summer and early fall, RG175 will work with the Search Committee to identify finalist candidates. Those candidates will visit campus and meet with faculty, staff, and parents, all of who will be provided an opportunity to submit feedback prior to the selection of the permanent Head of School.    
  • What is the timeline for the search?

    Candidate CVs for the position are due by August 15, 2018.  The Search Committee, in conjunction with RG175, will work to identify finalist candidates through late summer and the fall. In the late fall, these candidates will visit campus and meet with faculty, staff, and parents who will be provided an opportunity to submit feedback on them. The Search Committee will then identify and submit a finalist candidate recommendation to the full Board of Trustees for vote. Our goal is to have our new permanent Head of School selected by Thanksgiving this year (2018), and in place for the 2019-20 school year.
  • What skills and qualities are you looking for in a permanent Head of School?

    We are looking for a Head of School who:
    • Has experience in K-12 education or significant parts thereof with demonstrated effectiveness as a manager and administrator;
    • Possesses unquestioned integrity and a sense of fairness;
    • Demonstrates many of the qualities of a Head Teacher, knowledgeable of curriculum and pedagogy and eager to work with faculty;
    • Is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion;
    • Is a strong communicator;
    • Is fun-loving and has a sense of humor;
    • Enjoys students and being out among them;
    • Looks for opportunities to further the growth of community throughout the school and beyond, to include alumni and parents;
    • Blends high standards with caring and support;
    • Seeks to be involved in all aspects of school life;
    • Is eager to be the face and voice of The Buckley School in the community;
    • Has strong fundraising experience.
  • Who will serve on the search committee for the permanent Head of School?

    Stephanie Davis, Trustee, Search Committee Chair. Stephanie has been a member of the Board since 2013 and has served as the Chair of the Board’s governance committee, the Committee on Trustees, for the past two years. Stephanie lends her expertise in executive recruitment and corporate governance to the work on the Board. She is the parent of a rising senior.
    Valeria Rico Nikolov, Trustee, Board Chair-Elect, Search Committee Chair. Valeria has been a member of the Board since 2013 and has served on the Investment Committee as well as the Strategic Planning and Diversity, Multiculturalism, and Inclusion Committees.  An experienced CEO, Valeria lends her strong corporate leadership background to the work of the Board. She will serve as the Board Chair for the 2018-19 school year and is the parent of two Buckley graduates and a rising senior.
    Valeria Balfour, Trustee, Outgoing Chair, Search Committee Chair.  Valeria has been a member of the Board since 2012 and served as Board Chair from 2016-2018.  Valeria has also served on the Advancement, Audit, and Strategic Planning Committees of the Board, as well as the Committee on Trustees.  She was President of the Parents’ Association in 2010.  Valeria lends her expertise in employment law and human resources to the work of the Board.  2018-19 will be her twelfth year as a parent at Buckley.
    Yoshi Maruyama, Trustee, Treasurer-Elect.  Yoshi has been a member of the Board since 2016 and has served on the Budget and Finance Committee.  Yoshi brings a strong background in finance and corporate governance to the work of the Board.  Yoshi will serve as the Treasurer of the Board for the 2018-19 school year.  He is the parent of rising third and fourth graders.
    Alix Merkley ‘75, Trustee, Secretary-Elect.  Alix has been a member of the Board since 2016 and has served on the Advancement and Strategic Planning Committees.  Alix is an alumna of Buckley and the granddaughter of Buckley’s founder, Isabelle Buckley.  She lends her background in elementary education and historical knowledge of the school to the work of the Board.  Alix will serve as the Secretary of the Board for the 2018-19 school year.
    Karen Richardson ’95, Trustee.  Karen has been a member of the Board since 2017 and has served on the Committee on Trustees and the Advancement Committee.  Karen is an alumna of Buckley and served as the 2011 Commencement speaker.  From 2009 to 2014, she served as a member of the Obama Administration, managing domestic outreach on international policy issues as well as advising on international gender policy development.  She lends her communications and policy development expertise to the work of the Board.
    Tova Cohen, Trustee-Elect.  Tova will join the board in the 2018-19 school year.  Tova is an active community member, having served as the Chair of the Buckley Book Fair, Boutique, and Gala.  She also served as Parents’ Association President in the 2016-17 school year.  Tova is the parent of rising second and seventh graders.
    Caroline Macaulay, PA President-Elect.  Caroline is an active community member who has served as Chair of the Buckley Auction and Gala and led Fair committees over her years as a parent at Buckley.  Caroline will serve as the Parents’ Association President in the 2018-19 school year.  She is the parent of an entering sixth grader and a rising eighth grader. 
    Michele McKenzie, Lower School Faculty Representative. Michele joined the Buckley community in 1989 as a parent and one year later as a teacher of Beginners, then Buckley's preschool program. She moved to second grade in 1992 for 12 years before joining the fourth grade as a classroom teacher, where she's been for the last 13 years. Michele has served on numerous task forces and committees that evaluate curriculum and teaching strategies, most recently co-chairing last year's CAIS self-study. Her husband John Clement is a second grade classroom teacher, and her children Joshua and Sarah graduated from Buckley in the classes of 2003 and 2007, respectively.

    Rob Wright, Middle and Upper School Faculty Representative.  Rob has been part of the Buckley community for 21 years.  He has served in administrative roles as the Chair of the Social Sciences department and Director of Student Activities.  Rob has also taught AP US History and pioneered the implementation of a broad-based AP curriculum in the high school. Rob currently works in the Physical Education department as a coach and nutrition instructor and has served as the longtime advisor to the Upper School Buckley Student Council.