NEW Head of School Announcement

On behalf of the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees, it is my great pleasure to announce that Monica Rodriguez has accepted our invitation to become the next Head of The Montessori School of Raleigh.

Monica was our first-choice candidate from among a large and talented pool of individuals who applied for this position. When our search began last spring, more than 20 candidates asked to be considered for the position.  After a detailed screening of each candidate's resume and background, the pool of candidates was narrowed to seven individuals who met all aspects of our community-defined criteria and had relevant experience with both Montessori and private school educational environments.  The Search Committee then engaged in real-time SKYPE interviews with all seven, focusing on their experience, interest in our school, and our Montessori and educational philosophy.  Based on those interviews, we narrowed that talented pool to the three most highly-qualified candidates, each of whom visited our campus for in-person meetings and interviews with parents, faculty, and staff in June.

We believe that any one of those final three candidates would have been an excellent choice to head our school.  In the end, we agreed that Monica was the absolute best choice, combining the experience, philosophical perspective, and positive energy to guide The Montessori School of Raleigh into its future as a leader in Montessori and IB education in the Triangle.

Monica graduated from the University of Illinois, Chicago, with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, then earned her Master of Arts in Spanish from Middlebury College.  She began her teaching career at Near North Montessori School in Chicago and continued for the next eight years at Morgan Park Academy, where she held positions as Dean of Academics, Director of Global Studies, Assistant Upper School Principal, Director of Academic Summer Institute, World Language Department Chair, and Upper School Spanish teacher.  Her most recent role at Latin School of Chicago was as the Director of the Upper School, where she oversaw a division of 80 faculty members and 475 students grades 9 -12.  

Here are just a few of the many positive comments shared by members of our community who met with Monica during her campus visit:

•    A parent said that she has “an approachable nature” and is “relatable, intelligent, and a good listener.”  
•    A member of administration told us that “her leadership approach is both horizontal and vertical, and she loves collaboration efforts of the entire community.”  
•    A member of our faculty noted that she “is an excellent leader…has an impressive knowledge of Montessori philosophy and overall concept…is an open and thoughtful listener and a wonderful collaborator with the clarity to move the school forward in ‘oneness.’”  

In reference calls, we learned how truly admired Monica is among her colleagues and former supervisors. When asked about Monica’s characteristics and qualities, we heard that Monica was

“a true team player, and she made sure she understood all facets of a situation and always remained true to what was most beneficial for the students…She has a deep level of commitment that is undeniable, and she can share ideas and is always enthusiastic…She looks and acts the part and has empathy and a big dose of common sense…She's been a teacher, an assistant principal, a director, and a dean of academics, so she understands all of the facets of the school; [you] will be so fortunate to have her.”

Monica is a board member of Chicago Montessori School and West Suburban Montessori School and has served on the ISACS Accreditation Team.  She is affiliated with Sigma Delta Pi Collegiate National Spanish Honor Society, American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, and Association Montessori International.  Monica and her husband, Carlos, welcomed daughter Maya this year, and they look forward to her “future as a Montessorian” in our Toddler program next fall.

With Monica's selection early in the school year, we have the luxury as a school of an extended transition period to prepare Monica and our school for the partnership that will begin on or about July 1, 2020.  The MSR Board of Trustees is partnering with Interim Head Jeannie Norris to create a comprehensive plan of communication and collaboration with Monica to ensure a smooth succession in leadership. Part of that plan will be welcoming Monica back to our campus sometime after the first of the calendar year to meet everyone in person.  Stay tuned for details.

A search that ends with such a wonderful outcome is the result of work by many. I am grateful to all the members of the MSR community who participated in the search – from those who completed the initial survey, to those who spent time with our search consultant in March, to those who took time out of their summer schedules to come to campus to meet with candidates.  I also want to recognize Mary Seppala, our superb search consultant from Educators Collaborative, who assisted us throughout the entire process with thoughtfulness and skill; we could not have succeeded without her, and she has our sincerest thanks.  We are indebted to our Interim Head of School Jeannie Norris and the entire administrative team for supporting this effort every step of the way. Finally, I am deeply grateful to the remarkable members of the Search Committee, who so generously shared their time, wisdom, and insight to steer us in the right direction, methodically evaluating all input and ensuring this most successful outcome. It was an honor to work with them on this historic and important work as we secure the path forward for The Montessori School of Raleigh.

Krystin Knox, Search Committee Chairperson
Members of the Search Committee
Kristina Brunelle
Lauren DiGrazia
Debbie Gordon
Matt Gross
Peter Kamarchik
Wendy Peele
Lois Makoid
Linda Nelson, Executive Director of NCAIS
Mary Seppala, Educator’s Collaborative Consultant



LETTER FROM NEW HOS Monica Pickett Rodriguez

Dear Friends,
It is with great enthusiasm that I write to you as the next Head of School of The Montessori School of Raleigh. I am truly honored to have been appointed the leader of such a rich and dynamic school. The fact that education is my life's work and my passion makes being at The Montessori School of Raleigh all the more exciting due to our school's commitment to educational excellence and educating the whole child.

During my time on campus in June, I was struck by the kindness of the various constituent groups with which I met and by their genuine commitment to seeing the students and the school as a whole succeed. The sincerity that I witnessed from so many to see the school succeed tells me that this is an exceptional and exciting learning community.
I have been asked what my priorities will be as the incoming Head of School. Please know that my priority will always be your children—our students. I look forward to getting to know them as individuals, understanding them as learners, and anticipating their academic, social, and emotional needs. Additionally, I will review systems, protocols, and policies, as well as the mission statement and strategic plan. I will also be in regular contact with Ms. Jeannie Norris and Ms. Krystin Knox in order to ensure a smooth transition and to familiarize myself with the unique needs and priorities of the school.

My philosophy as an educator is that every decision that is made is done so with the students’ best interests in mind. Therefore, I am dedicated to ensuring that our students continue to receive an excellent education in a supportive environment so they are well-prepared for the world they will face upon graduating from The Montessori School of Raleigh. Additionally, I am dedicated to making sure that our talented faculty, staff, and administrators receive the support they need in order to better serve our students.
Again, I am truly honored and humbled to have been given this opportunity and privilege. Have a fantastic school year, and I look forward to meeting everyone in the months ahead as we celebrate 45 years!
Monica Pickett Rodriguez


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