Head of School Barbara Wagner appointed Laura Hotchkiss as the assistant head of school last June. Hotchkiss, who will still be upper school director, said she will now juggle more responsibilities dealing with the administration of the school, and she will have less interaction with students.
Hotchkiss will lead the faculty search process, foreign travel, college tour, faculty committees, accreditation for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and California Association of Independent Schools, and the school’s academic advisory committee, which consists of board members, the education council, and non-trustees to reflect upon the school’s mission statement, Hotchkiss said.
Despite the increased tasks ahead, Hotchkiss said she’s prepared to handle these challenges because she understands how the school functions.
“If you’ve been in a place for a long time, there’s institutional memory of how the jobs were done before,” Hotchkiss said.
Hotchkiss also said that as upper school director, she already performed many of her new tasks under the supervision of Wagner, but will now have more independence in handling her duties.
For instance, Wagner oversaw the entire process of faculty searches, but now Hotchkiss will finalize the strong candidates and then make recommendations to Wagner.
Wagner said that she transferred some of her responsibilities to free time for other school responsibilities, which include visiting classes, “hanging out” with faculty and students, and developing a new strategic plan for the school in the future.
“As the school became stronger, I questioned how I should be prioritizing and spending my time,” Wagner said. “I knew I wanted to spend more time with students.”
President of the Board of Trustees Carol Bennett said that the Board has been urging Wagner to find assistance
so that she won’t “burn out and become overwhelmed,” Bennett said.
No succession for the next head of school has been planned, Hotchkiss said.
The transition is “just to support Ms. Wagner and the school,” she said.
As Hotchkiss takes on additional duties from Wagner, she has in turn relinquished some of her duties as upper school director. Monica DePriest, co-director of college counseling, will now be in charge of student council and will attend all-school council meetings. Thomas Millar, history instructor and tenth grade dean, will take
over upper school activities and plan for speakers and bake sales, jobs Hotchkiss used to do, Hotchkiss said.
Even though Hotchkiss had parts of the “student element” in her job taken away, she will maintain the academic
counseling as the upper school director, Hotchkiss said.