About The Westerly School:
Mission and Vision
Westerly School develops the whole child through a challenging and stimulating program in an inclusive and diverse community. We ignite within each child a lifelong love of learning by encouraging them to discover their full and unique potential every single day. Our students develop a true sense of self through meaningful opportunities for self-expression, service, and character development. Westerly graduates are leaders, helpers, and creators today and in the future.
We believe in developing the whole child through an educational program that balances academic mastery, creative expression, critical thinking, socio-emotional awareness, and physical development.
We believe in celebrating and understanding the differences in viewpoint, culture, and capabilities of each individual child so they may serve as compassionate & global minded citizens.
We believe in illuminating the joys of learning through collaborative inquiry, experiential based learning, and real world connections.
We believe that cultivating a safe and trusting community begins with a place where students are seen and known, allowing them to take academic and emotional risks, resulting in a strong sense of self, individual confidence and integrity.
We believe in engaging our young leaders through authentic service opportunities to understand the value of giving back to the community on both a local and global scale.
Westerly School was founded in 1991 by a group of Long Beach parents interested in creating a school that provided an alternative to largely public and parochial schools in the area. The goal: to create a school that recognized, respected, and taught to the individual student. They wanted a place where students could thrive academically, emotionally, and physically. They wanted a place where their children could feel safe and secure to be themselves and to learn in a variety of ways. That mission still drives Westerly School, the first secular independent schools in the Long Beach area. These parents wanted the choice of a local independent education that would focus on the strengths and challenges of each individual student.
The Board worked collaboratively to establish a strategic plan and lead the recruitment of a school leader, resulting in the hire of Ray Bizjack, a candidate from a school in Puerto Rico who represented a strong mission fit. Previously the founding head of St. Marks School in Marin County, Ray began his tenure as Westerly’s Founding Headmaster in February 1992. Operating without students, Mr. Bizjack and the Board created a provisional budget with the help of their advisors, setting a structure of one teacher and one aide for each class of 22 students maximum, and included dedicated specialists for PE, foreign language, visual arts, and performing arts. A financial aid program was established to help ensure economic diversity among the students.
A local architect (who donated much of his fee) worked with Scottsman, a manufacturer of modular buildings, to provide classrooms, working with a group of founding board members to secure a loan of $450,000 for construction costs. In September 1993, the School opened with just under 40 students and today has grown to nearly 170 through grades K-8.
The Westerly School Today
Having recently completed a major campus renovation, Westerly boasts 5 acres of state-of-the-art classrooms featuring convertible indoor/outdoor classroom spaces and a diverse variety of academic programming. Distinct from many independent schools, Westerly is a diverse, student-centered environment with 55% of students self-identifying as students of color and 40% receiving tuition assistance. Westerly’s student to teacher ratio is 8:1, and has an average class size of 20.
Westerly is proud of the diversity of the school’s academic programming and the child-centered philosophy from which curriculum are developed. It is a key part of Westerly’s culture to focus on the socio-emotional aspects of education and learning, and incorporate collaboration and interdisciplinary, project-based learning activity into the classroom environment as much as possible.
Technology, an intrinsic part of our children’s everyday lives, is integrated throughout Westerly’s curriculum, incorporated into classroom activities in safe, meaningful and inspirational ways. The school invests regularly in new technology upgrades to ensure that students are adept at working within the latest programs and build digital and media literacy, so that students become both creators and critics of media. Faculty regularly participate in professional development opportunities related to robotics, programming, software and interactive whiteboard usage to ensure that each child has the richest possible technology experience. All Middle School students receive a MacBook that challenges students to expand on technology skills learned in the lower grades and take ownership of the creative use of technology in class projects.
With two art instructors in each class, Westerly students have the chance to find their creative voice in a vibrant, supportive and non-judgmental environment. Both accomplished art teachers have been honored with the Distinguished Artist of the Year Award from the Long Beach Arts Council, having worked together for many years and completing several award-winning public art projects. They share a common passion for empowering youth to find their individual voices. Lower School students focus on introductory concepts and techniques, while Middle School students have the choice of concentrating their efforts in ceramics or drawing and painting this year. Moving freely between the role of creator and critic, students learn proper art terminology for participation in critiques and written analysis of artworks while gaining knowledge of art movements and pivotal works of art throughout history.
Designed to be supportive, encouraging and personal, the Westerly physical education program focuses on movement, inclusivity, and opportunity. As students’ progress through the program from Kindergarten through Grade 8, they are exposed to a variety of sports, team-building activities, and fitness related games – all of which take place in a small, safe and supportive environment that allows them to build self-confidence and sportsmanship, and gain social and problem-solving skills that they carry throughout life. Students focus on skill development with a one-to-one student-to-equipment ratio, with students working to improve skills at their own pace. Additionally, small class sizes ensure that students are on the move constantly, enjoying extensive opportunities to practice skills individually and in small groups.
Students begin engaging in Service Learning projects in Kindergarten and continue to take on increasingly complex projects each year, with the goal to create an environment where serving is simply a normal part of life. As part of the curriculum, students identify needs in various communities in their lives, getting to know people who positively impact these communities. Students build upon that learning to take on large, challenging projects that impact the world in meaningful ways, from visiting city hall to learning more about public service, and raising money for UNICEF, working alongside others collaboratively. Westerly’s structured Service Learning classes prepares students to analyze, brainstorm, research and implement actions that positively affect their communities, practicing the process manifesting ideas to reality. Westerly sees Service Learning as key in instilling confidence in students to see their impact, build high-level thinking skills, develop important interpersonal skills, increase ties to community, and create a positive environment campus-wide.
This is an exceptional opportunity for the right empathic, mission-driven, academic leader to provide leadership and strategy for the Westerly School of Long Beach as the new Head of School. Working closely with an engaged Board of Directors, the Head of School will guide Westerly’s future as the school enters its 25th year facing a complex set of opportunities and challenges.
At this critical point in Westerly’s history, this is unique opportunity to lead a high-performing independent school to its next level, cementing the school’s distinct status in the region as the primary inclusive, creative and academically rigorous independent option for local families. The Head of School, working collaboratively with the Board, will provide a high level of insight and business acumen towards best practices regarding various key priorities, including: maximizing fundraising and partnership opportunities; increasing and sustaining enrollment; maintaining and increasing academic standards, branding and marketing; pioneering effective professional development strategies for faculty and staff; executing major capital projects; and evaluating and refining Westerly’s administrative, financial and operational systems.
The Head of School will establish, cultivate, and maintain strong relationships with staff, faculty and school community members, including parents, students and prospective families. This leader will be instrumental in providing strategy to increase the organization’s fundraising potential, and will work with the Board of Directors to creatively cultivate, solicit and steward new and existing sources of revenue.
With a community focused mindset, the Head of School will be a strong voice for Westerly, engaging current and prospective families as Westerly’s primary ambassador. In addition, the Head of School will have the opportunity to provide vision for the school’s future, and will drive the community forward with consistent, realistic, and timely goals. An empathic individual with gravitas and presence, the Head of School will support and model an open climate that attracts, retains, and motivates an exceptional and diverse team. This leader will maintain a cohesive, positive culture that emphasizes collaboration, collegiality, and accountability and engages with Long Beach’s community in a proactive, inclusive way.
The Head of School will be a dynamic, visionary, and culturally engaged leader with the capacity to envision and strategically plan for the future of the organization. This individual will be an experienced leader and manager, able to develop and supervise a highly effective team of teachers and administrators. With experience in school operations and management, this individual will have a combination of breadth and depth with a range of functions, including a balance of strong external relations (fundraising, enrollment and community relations) and internal (operational, finance and staff management) skills. This leader will have depth, emotional intelligence and the academic credibility to serve as a respected and approachable leader to teachers and students.
With warmth and a genuine passion for the mission of Westerly, this leader will be fully dedicated to students and their success, creating an inclusive, emotionally and socially supportive community through active communication, empathy and strong leadership. The Head of School will be comfortable and experienced in working across diverse communities, and will have the credibility to communicate effectively with Westerly’s audiences and stakeholders. The Head of School will be an inspirational leader with the ability to speak persuasively to Westerly’s vision, history and mission with fluency and clarity. Alongside the Board, this leader will forecast progress towards goals and position the organization for sustainable success.
A bachelor’s degree is required for the position and a graduate degree is preferred. Candidates will have at least four years of academic leadership experience in a similar or related role. The ideal candidate will have the following personal competencies and characteristics:
Passion for the Mission and for Education: The Head of School will have a passion for the mission and community of Westerly School, to whole child education and educating for civic engagement and emotional intelligence. With a genuine commitment to independent education and an obvious joy in working with children, this leader will endeavor to make an immediate connection to Westerly’s families in the community and Long Beach region. Experienced with early childhood education and with a credible academic knowledge of independent school environments, this leader will be a natural advocate for Westerly and its diverse student body. The Head of School will be a warm, humble and empathic leader and a clear advocate for equity and inclusiveness, treating others with respect.
Relationship Building, Collaboration and Communication: The Head of School will be a natural, skilled collaborator with a demonstrated ability to listen, connect, build bridges and sustain excellent relationships with families, community members, potential partner organizations, and faculty members. The Head of School will be the primary ambassador for Westerly, in helping to build the brand of the School in the community, guiding messaging to all stakeholders, and seeking input from the Board of Directors and community members. An influential and persuasive communicator, the Head of School will have an inspired ability to communicate with all audiences, including and especially with children and families, able to speak fluidly and extensively about Westerly’s history, impact, and future direction. The Head of School will be a credible leader with the capacity to accept and seek assistance from those with specific expertise.
Strategic Leadership and Business Acumen: The Head of School will be a strong leader with high integrity who inspires confidence through transparent and competent decision-making, fosters a culture of accountability and support, and provides clear coaching and guidance as a natural mentor to staff. The Head of School will champion professional development opportunities for faculty and staff, delegate appropriately, and inspire relationships based on trust and mutual respect. This individual will have the vision and skills to develop and implement progressive innovations to Westerly School’s business functions and programs, including new models for internal administrative practices, finances, operations and human resources. The Head of School will have the perspective to consider the impact of decisions and make sound recommendations that deliver measurable results. Calm under pressure, this leader will be consultative, promoting open dialogue with team members to identify best practices, and proactive in addressing the socioemotional impacts of change.
Management and Operational Expertise; Change Management: The Head of School will be an experienced leader with an entrepreneurial and enthusiastic spirit, and the background and skills to deliver on Westerly’s vision. This individual will be a proven strategic problem-solver with the foresight, capacity, and experience to understand and balance complex and discrete needs. This individual will demonstrate the ability to evaluate critical areas for attention, and implement decisive, innovative strategies that address challenges thoughtfully and engender broad support. Agile in ambiguous situations and capable of providing stability when faced with quickly changing circumstances, the Head of School will be able to respectfully challenge the status quo with an approach to leadership that does not threaten the culture at Westerly.
Expertise in Development and Fundraising: The Head of School will be a strong development leader with a track record of success in fundraising and advancement, with the expertise and mindset to build new revenue pipelines and cultivate potential donors and the Board. This leader will have knowledge and expertise with various fundraising and communications channels, and the ability to engage with all of Westerly School’s constituents, including prospective families, alumni and partner organizations, alongside existing donors and community leaders.
The Westerly School of Long Beach has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. This search is being led by Michelle Bonoan and Medelene Beasley. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume here, or email Michelle and Medelene at the following:
Michelle R.S. Bonoan
An Equal Opportunity Employer: Westerly School does not and shall not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status.
Westerly seeks caring, dedicated individuals who have a passion for learning and who are always open to improving their craft. The Westerly campus and community encourages collaboration and creativity.
Westerly seeks individuals who are committed to being active members of its school community – both in the classroom and outside of it. Working at Westerly is about far more than teaching. It’s about building relationships – nurturing young people – instilling a love of learning that will stay with our students for their entire lives.
About Koya Leadership Partners:
Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with mission-driven organizations, institutions of higher education and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information, visit www.koyapartners.com.