By AJ Gerardi
Woodlynde conducted a national search for the next Head of School for nearly a year, but it turned out the person they were looking for had been a part of the school community the whole time.
Mrs. Clemons, mother of senior Hayden Clemons, is set to start as Head of School July 1st. Currently, she is Director of Enrollment Management at the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, which is a few miles from Woodlynde.
“I am truly honored to have been selected to serve as Woodlynde’s next Head of School,” Mrs. Clemons told the Informer in an exclusive interview by email. “Woodlynde is a special place, and I am proud to accept this leadership role at such a unique, warm, and creative community, committed to academic excellence and clearly demonstrated respect and appreciation for each individual.”
When long-time Head of SchoolDr. Fulco decided to leave last year, Mr. King was hired as an interim Head, while a national search was organized for a permanent replacement. The search was narrowed to four final candidates, but the search committee decided not to hire any of them. So the search process was restarted, Mrs. Clemons applied, and the rest is history.
The Woodlynde community is eagerly anticipating her arrival.
“I feel encouraged and optimistic about the decision to hire Mrs. Clemons for many reasons,” science teacherMr. Prontnicki, who was on the search committee to find a new Head of School, said. “She is analytical, thoughtful and caring. She knows the area, the Woodlynde community, and many of its constituents as a parent already, which will help her as she takes over in this new role.”
When asked if she will be making any changes to the school, Mrs. Clemons said, “I look forward to bringing my experiences and insight to Woodlynde and I know I will have ideas for changes that can make our community stronger as we move forward.”
She went on to say, “I am a strong proponent of change, as that is how we get better at what we do and learn from those around us who have made changes themselves to work together to support their communities.”
“However,” she added. “I have a lot to learn before knowing what we can work on together to make Woodlynde an even stronger school community. First and foremost, I am excited to spend time getting to know every member of the community. I look forward to spending time in classes, on the fields and meeting with students, parents, teachers and colleagues to learn about the school through their experiences.”
Mrs. Clemons already has a deep affection and appreciation for Woodlynde as a parent of a student for the last five years.
“What I appreciate about Woodlynde, in addition to the strong academic program, is the sense of community and warmth that you experience from the moment you walk through the front door. That warmth is what initially drew us to the school five years ago, as well as Woodlynde’s outstanding reputation for being a school that prepares students academically for college and beyond,” she said.
“I cannot imagine a more perfect opportunity to be able to utilize my experience and skills at a school I love, to help it continue to grow and prosper long into the future.”
In the past, Mrs. Clemons has worked in admissions and enrollment at independent schools.
In her current job as Director of Enrollment Management at the Shipley School, “I oversee all the functions that fall under the enrollment office, including meeting with prospective families and helping them get to know the school. I also do a lot of work to help grow the school by finding ways to promote it in the greater Philadelphia area.”
For learning, she says that having a growth mindset is especially important. “One skill set that I have developed over time is a growth mindset. I love to learn new things and grow in new areas.”
“Early in my career, I had the pleasure of working and living at a boarding school. During that time, I was asked to fill an opening we had on the football team as a member of the chain crew. I had no experience at all with the game and did not understand the rules. However, I took on the challenge and learned the game throughout the season.”
“While this skill did not necessarily connect directly back to my work in the admissions office, I realized that by being willing to take a risk and have a growth mindset, I could grow without holding myself back with thoughts of what I did not know yet.”
“This is a skill that has helped me grow throughout my career and I can’t wait to put that skill to work at Woodlynde.”