New head of Winter Sports School embraces unique environment
Tess Miner-Farra aims to tap into student-athletes’ motivations
June 6, 2017
When the Park City Day School was looking for a new head of school, it's assistant head, Tess Miner-Farra, didn't offer her name for consideration. It wasn't the right opportunity.
That was coming later.
The Winter Sports School recently announced Miner-Farra as its new head of school, and she is set to move across town to take over July 1. She said she was interested in joining the school as soon as she heard Dave Kaufman was stepping down from the position because of her background as the academic dean at the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, New York, another school that caters to high-achieving athletes.
"The light went off for me and I said, 'Now that's a head of school position I'd be interested in pursuing,'" said Miner-Farra, who has worked at the Park City Day School since its inception in 2010. "It combines where I want to be, the kind of work I want to do in education and is the next step for me in terms of leadership and my career. It's almost a perfect fit."
The Winter Sports School, which operates through the summer to provide students time off to train in their athletic endeavors during the winter, intrigues Miner-Farra because of the type of student it attracts. She said the teens who attend are already incredibly motivated in their sports, so teachers and administrators must determine how to get them to funnel that enthusiasm into education, as well.
"The number that ever go pro in anything is so small that we need to prepare them for education and life beyond sports," she said. "But if they already have something that drives them, our challenge is to figure out how to tap into that and to get them to see how what they're doing in the classroom can support what they want to do outside the classroom."
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Tim Gaylord, chair of the school's board of trustees, said in a press release that Miner-Farra's background makes her uniquely qualified to do just that.
"We are very excited to have Tess joining the Winter Sports School as our next head of school," he said. "Her knowledge of the complexities our student/athletes must deal with, educator background, involvement in the local community, and commitment to helping move the school to new levels all resonated loud and clear with our search committee. We feel she will be a great addition to the team."
For his part, Kaufman said he is sorry to be leaving the school behind. He stepped down to tend to a medical situation that arose within his family, but said he won't soon forget shepherding the school through major changes over the last four years. During his tenure, the school transitioned to a charter and also opened a permanent school house.
"The school has made such amazing strides in last five years or so," he said. "I'm proud of the entire team and everybody who had a hand in it. I'm proud of what the school has become and is becoming. Serving the Winter Sports School has been the greatest honor of my career."