A Message for the Red Oaks Community
January 19, 2023
Dear Red Oaks Community,
It is with fond, best wishes for her next chapter and complete confidence in the future of The Red Oaks School that I share that after nearly 25 years as our Head of School, Marilyn Stewart will retire at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year.
Marilyn’s career at The Red Oaks School is marked by transformative leadership, energized by her unwavering commitment to the core of our mission: the holistic development of each child’s gifts. Marilyn has embraced making Red Oaks a place “where minds expand and spirits soar,” and understands how to make it happen: believe in and trust children; recruit and support top faculty and administrators; draw on current research to review and revise curricula; prepare the learning environment; promote community involvement; partner with parents; partner with the Board of Trustees; emphasize collaboration; foster a growth mindset; ADD the secret sauce of joy and passion.
Marilyn’s heart is with The Red Oaks School; her vision and leadership have positioned us for continued success. While Marilyn’s accomplishments are truly too numerous to catalog, it is especially noteworthy that under her leadership, the original “Montessori Children’s House” was envisioned as The Red Oaks School which, in turn, grew to include a Middle School distinguished by its International Baccalaureate program. As of September 2022, The Red Oaks Middle School has a permanent facility, meticulously designed to promote community, and engaged learning. Our school enjoys a fine reputation, and our graduates are regularly admitted to selective secondary schools in the immediate area and beyond.
Marilyn’s stature as a progressive educator within the larger educational community is considerable. She is a past President of the American Montessori Society, has served on the Board of the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS) for 16 years, has co-chaired the NJAIS accreditation committee for over a decade, and is a respected member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Her contributions to the educational community and the high regard in which she is held have certainly raised our profile and standing among independent schools.
In anticipation of her retirement, Marilyn has worked with the Board of Trustees to ensure a smooth leadership transition. The Board formed a Search Committee to focus on the transition and has selected Dr. Mary Seppala, a senior consultant, with Educators Collaborative to guide us as we recruit and hire a new Head of School. Mary is a seasoned professional who shares our commitment to transparency and community input in the search process.
In the next few days, you will receive a communication from Mary with a link to a survey. Your participation as a member of the Red Oaks community is extremely important. We want to ensure the voices of our community are heard when creating the top priorities in a successor for Head of School. Please complete the survey in a timely fashion. Mary will be on-campus on February 8 to meet with a broad range of constituents. Your survey responses, together with the community input gathered during her visit, will allow Mary to develop a Leadership Profile to guide her recruitment of candidates who are prepared to continue Marilyn’s legacy of extraordinary leadership.
Rest assured that over the next 18 months there will be many opportunities to celebrate Marilyn and to give her our thanks and best wishes!
President, Board of Trustees
At my very first Red Oaks graduation, which I attended days before becoming Head of School in 1999, the bright, young students on stage sang “Getting to Know You” from The King and I. I sang with them, heart full, hopeful and eager to get to know everyone in the years to come. And what an honor that has been. I have learned and grown so much, and I have had the opportunity of a lifetime to lead a continually evolving community of learners. I am truly grateful.
And now I would like to share with you my plans for retirement. I am going to remain as Head of School for another 18 months, and will retire at the end of June, 2024. By that time, I will have served Red Oaks for a quarter of a century! Together, we have developed an exemplary school centered around the whole child, making adaptations to our curriculum and facilities in an ever-present quest for quality education. We have made an enduring commitment to the happiness and progress of each individual child. We have watched as our students grew and flourished, benefitting from being part of an extraordinary, caring community.
The Board of Trustees will be in direct communication with you to explain the process of a Head of School search. The Trustees have three main responsibilities: select, support, and evaluate the Head of School, the Board’s only employee; set and maintain the mission of the school; provide oversight as fiduciaries. This Board takes its obligations seriously and will set upon a search that involves all constituencies to identify a new leader who will nurture the School well into the future. Of that I have no doubt.
Season after season, Red Oaks has been a source of inspiration and joy for me. Over the next 18 months, I will happily work with vigor and intention so that I leave my successor a strong school – Red Oaks Strong – ready and able to explore new directions and innovations for yet another generation of students and their families. My heart will be with the school, always.
Join me as I look to Red Oak’s future with joy and optimism. Help with this transition so that Red Oaks, where minds expand and spirits soar, continues to be a beacon of light in the educational community. And… Don’t worry. Be happy.
With my best wishes,
Marilyn E. Stewart
Head of School
Head of School Succession Plan
Search Committee Members
Megan Clark: Search Committee co-chair, Trustee, current parent
Janet Davis: Search Committee co-chair, Trustee, parent of graduate
Anne Carolan: Trustee, parent of graduate
Fred Douglas: Trustee, parent of graduate
Jayne Geiger: Trustee
Avinash Kothavale: Trustee, parent of graduates
Liz Warner: Trustee, parent of graduate
|Late Fall 2022||Search Committee formed
Educators Collaborative engaged to guide us through the search
|January 18, 2023||Marilyn Stewart’s retirement announced to ROS community|
|January 20 – February 3||Online survey for ROS community to gather information relevant to new Head of School (HOS) search|
|February 8 – 9||Search consultant, Mary Seppala, on campus to meet with broad range of constituents|
|Starting mid-February||New HOS search goes live
Enter quiet period of recruiting and interviewing by consultant and Search Committee
|Spring 2023 – June 2024||Various events to celebrate Marilyn and her contributions to the ROS community|
|Late Spring – Fall 2023||Finalist visits scheduled with opportunities for ROS community to meet candidates and provide feedback|
|TBD||Offer and announcement|
|TBD – June 2024||Transition period|
|June 30, 2024||Marilyn Stewart’s retirement|
|July 1, 2024||New HOS’s official start|