New director at The Colby School is a seasoned vet
July 17, 2009
The Colby School has hired a new headmaster to replace Dr. Amy Fehlberg, who resigned in May after leading the independent institution in the Snyderville Basin for about six years.
The new director is Jamie Estill, who has spent his education career at independent schools. He began as a North Carolina Outward Bound School instructor and received a master’s degree in education from Duke University in 1979.
"This is an important moment for experienced leadership at The Colby School," Estill said in an interview Thursday.
The Colby School, which is in its 12th year, is located at 3770 N. State Road 224. A group of teachers disenchanted by their experiences working in public schools formed the private institution, which has about 120 students.
"This is a great school," Fehlberg said in an interview Thursday. "You’re going to get the best education in Park City right here at Colby."
Fehlberg said she is delighted the board of trustees at The Colby School appointed Estill as her replacement.
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"They’re excited about Jamie," she said. "And I’m really excited to see what the next year brings for Colby. I’ve put my heart and soul into this place. This is my baby and I’m about to hand it off."
Estill said his experiences working at many independent schools in the past 29 years will help bring new perspectives to The Colby School.
"Schools are so different," he said. "There are things that I have done at one school that were brilliant that at the next school didn’t work at all because the culture was different."
He said he left his position as head of school at Silverwood School in Poulsbo, Wash., to accept the Park City job offer.
For headmasters, their average tenures at private schools are about seven years, Estill said.
Estill was also middle school director at Lakeside School in Seattle, head of middle school at Head-Royce School in Oakland, Calif., and headmaster at The Mountain School in Sun Valley, Idaho.
"The head of school runs the school within the parameters established by the board," Estill explained about the position.
Fehlberg said a shakeup was underway at The Colby School when she took over six years ago.
"When the former director left there was quite a bit of chaos and my opportunity here has really been to get the school stabilized," Fehlberg said. "[Estill] is now going to help it spread its wings and grow."
The faculty at The Colby School next year won’t significantly change.
"We have two teacher positions changing," Fehlberg said.
But donations to private schools are down due to the economic slowdown, which is forcing belt-tightening at The Colby School.
"Families are not giving as much," Fehlberg said. "Coming to an independent school means paying tuition, but it also means giving."
Still, fund-raising has been strong at The Colby School in the past six years, she explained.
"What I’m really hoping is that the things that I wasn’t as successful at, or the things the school needs to do to grow, I’m hoping [Estill] brings that, and I’m confident that he will," Fehlberg said. "Our school has done a great job of getting a fantastic curriculum and an amazing faculty in place, and now they get to decide what they want to do with it."