Spotlight on... Head Searches
Among the portfolio of services that Prizmah offers are placement services, tailored for each school by a team of highly experienced professionals. Prizmah works with schools to implement strategic recruitment practices in order to attract the best candidates, and designs and supports a thorough interview and smart selection process to identify the best candidate. These search processes are conducted in strictest confidence. Below is an interview with a search committee chair at a school that has just completed a successful hire in partnership with Prizmah.
What surprised you?
It surprised me that it wasn’t easier to draw many highly qualified applicants. I expected that there would be tons of candidates knocking on our door; it surprised me that we had to market ourselves as an opportunity as much as candidates had to market themselves.
In what areas did you find our services most helpful?
Prizmah presented us with a formal process that was invaluable. We tweaked it according to our needs, but it was helpful to have a process with milestones and timelines. And it was very useful to have Prizmah doing sourcing and some initial screening after getting to know us.
At various difficult junctures, when differences among committee members felt irreconcilable, Prizmah moderated discussions and kept us focused on our strategic priorities. When we were stuck, they asked us the questions that helped us get unstuck.
What were your biggest concerns before you started the search for a new head?
We’re a fairly diverse school within the larger modern Orthodox tent; we needed to find a person with connections to the various constituencies in the school, including the range of Orthodox streams along with sizable populations of both Ashkenazi and Sephardi, and more recently, international families. This essential qualification of course was in addition to the leadership skills and educational vision that we were looking for.
Tell us how you formulated the qualities and qualifications you decided to prioritize in your search.
The search committee was made up of people from the various school constituencies, so we felt that many voices were represented on the committee. As well, Prizmah ran several focus groups of parents and faculty for us, providing the expert guidance that we needed to gather information. These initial focus groups were very informative, and helped us ground our decisions in the community’s needs and values. We often came back to the results of the focus groups during the process, especially when we were deliberating in the final stages..
What differences in perspective existed among members of the search committee? How were those resolved?
There were differences in people who wanted someone more traditional and others looking for someone more out-of-the-box. Of course, there were some “right vs. left” differences in opinion. While everyone on the committee certainly had their own particular interests as they looked at candidates, everyone also knew needed to put aside personal preferences in favor of what would be best for the whole school.
Now that the search is concluded and the new head affirmed, what is the mood of the school?
We are sad to say goodbye to our much beloved and long-time principal who is retiring. But everyone involved has been so committed to ensuring a smooth transition and the school community is thrilled and excited to welcome our new head of school.