Park City Day School welcomes new face during transition
In his unconventional role at the Park City Day School, Bruce Shoup sees an opportunity.
Shoup is set to begin his first — and only — year as the school’s head of school. Hired on an interim basis, he will oversee the transition from the previous head, Roy Parker, who left to direct the Summit County Recovery Foundation, to a permanent hire who will begin next year.
Shoup has held leadership roles in several independent schools, and he will be tasked at the Day School with drawing a map for his successor. He will spend the year evaluating the school and seeking out feedback from teachers and parents in an effort to understand what the school can do better and where it needs to go next. The value of having an open dialogue among administrators, teachers and parents is immense, he said, and he expects the lessons gleaned this year to contribute to the long-term health of the school.
Then, the permanent head of school can begin to implement the long-range vision the school will have planned. Shoup said he is eager to get the chance to create the plan, but is happy to leave the next step to his successor.
“That takes a lot of dedicated time,” he said. “I’ve done it, it’s fun, it’s very rewarding. But it sucks a lot out of you. You’re touching the institution at every level. And hopefully the next head they hire will bring the skills to do that — and I hope I can help recognize those skills — but for me, it’s an opportunity to come in and do some short-term tweaking and adjusting.”
Rick Nemeroff, chair of the school’s board of trustees and co-chair of the committee tasked with finding a full-time head of school, said Shoup’s qualifications are unquestioned. He said the school sought an interim head who would be “an expert on setting the table” for the next head of school and that Shoup fits that bill.
But in addition to laying the groundwork for his successor, Shoup will be involved in selecting him or her. He will help the board of trustees identify a candidate that has all the skills to successfully lead the school for the next several years.
Nemeroff said the board is seeking someone versatile — skilled in education, but also able to handle everything from administration to fundraising to public relations.
“You really have to be very specific in what you’re looking for, and you want to make sure that the candidate is coming here for all the right reasons,” he said. “… You’ve got to find someone who can do all of those things and do them all well. And if they can’t do everything well, we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the proper support in place so they don’t fall in any one area. It’s a very collaborative experience.”
As valuable as Shoup will be in evaluating potential heads of school, he will also serve as a resource for the candidates, ensuring that the school is a good fit for them, too.
“It’s not just us interviewing them — they’re interviewing us,” Nemeroff said. “A full-time head of school wants to know more about us. And I don’t run schools, Bruce runs schools. So when a candidate comes in and meets with Bruce, they will have a conversation at a level where I can’t possibly answer those questions. That way, everyone goes into this in a much more open way.”
The board of trustees is hoping to hire a permanent head of school by the end of the calendar year, with the intention of having him or her begin in July 2017. Whoever is chosen will shepherd the school through a period of change in education and at the school. But in the meantime, Shoup will be a steadying force.
Nemeroff said parents can be assured that the school will operate as usual, with simply a new face in the head of school’s office. Shoup added that parents will quickly get to know him. He is eager to roll up his sleeves and go about improving the school any way he can — and a big part of that will be talking with parents.
“I’m a person who wants to listen to them, and I’m going to ask some probing questions,” he said. “‘How has it been for you as a parent? What have been the strengths, what have been the weaknesses? Where would you like to see the school go?’”
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