Dear Members of the St. Stephen’s Community,
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Head of School Search Committee, we are excited and honored to announce the appointment of Jerri King as the next Head of School at St. Stephen’s. In summer 2018, she will succeed David Coe, who has provided inspired leadership and dedicated service since 2011.
Beginning last January, the Search Committee began the process of recruiting the strongest and best-matched candidates to our school from across the country. Following preliminary, confidential interviews and substantive sessions with the Search Committee, three of these applicants and their spouses were invited to visit St. Stephen’s, where they met with faculty, students, staff members, parents, administrators, and trustees. On October 5, the Search Committee presented Jerri as its unanimous nominee to the Board of Trustees to serve as the next Head of School at St. Stephen’s. The trustees enthusiastically and unanimously approved the recommendation.
During the in-depth interview process over several stages, Jerri’s extensive experience as a Montessori school leader and her energy and enthusiasm for St. Stephen’s and its mission were evident to all. Members of the Search Committee also undertook extensive reference checking and received glowing reports from those who have worked with Jerri and have direct knowledge of her skills and personal qualities. The clear theme that emerged to the Search Committee is that Jerri is a deeply thoughtful, hardworking, and a collaborative leader who puts the needs of students before all; she has also proved to be an effective leader in achieving ambitious goals.
Raised in southern Georgia, Jerri attended Georgia State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1994. Upon graduation, she taught in Atlanta-area schools before joining the faculty at Springmont School (then First Montessori School of Atlanta) – a toddler through 8th grade Montessori school. She became the Associate Head in 2005, Interim Head in 2006, and finally Head of School in 2007. During her time at Springmont, Jerri helped bring about a learning support program for students with ADHD and dyslexia, enhanced the Outdoor Science Education program, and led an effort to rename and rebrand the school in 2013. She managed a $4.5 million annual budget, improved a 6+ acre campus and remote 80+ acre facility, facilitated the development of two campus Master Plans, and completed a $4 million building project on time and on budget. Finally, she facilitated the creation of the school’s current Mission Statement, Core Values, Diversity Statement, and Portrait of a Graduate.
Jerri’s accomplishments are many, but it is her collaborative spirit and respect for all constituencies that her administrative colleagues, teachers, parents, and Board members praise the most. Long-time Springmont parent, Odetta White states: “Jerri King has led the team that created a school my children love, and I am so grateful to her for that. It is a blessing to be able to drop my kids off at school and know that they are being taught, nurtured, respected and guided toward understanding themselves and their communities. Jerri is unfailingly kind to me and my family, genuinely interested in my children’s opinions and always willing to talk about how to make Springmont better. We will miss her dearly but, like any successful leader, she is leaving us with everything we need to thrive and we will, in her honor.”
The Head of the Elementary Division at Springmont writes: “In meetings, Jerri invites positive discussions and seeks input from all participants. She has a knack for listening and putting our thoughts into perspective to bring out the best thinking of the group. In administrative meetings, she focuses on shared goal-setting and moves our work forward with encouragement and each one of us identifying our priorities before the meeting adjourns. Jerri is an effective problem-solver, insightful and creative. She is systematic in her thinking and sees the possibilities and the impact of several options at once…[an] example would be the creation of Springmont’s concierge service where she guided the transformation of a problem into an asset. Jerri also models how to get the work done. She is hard working herself and shows respect and courtesy to everyone. She is accessible and approachable, as well as strategic; she fosters a culture where ‘the door is open.’ I know her to be grounded in strong ethics and a healthy set of personal values.”
A trustee and former Board chair at Springmont writes: “Jerri is also a great leader and team builder. As Chair, I had the opportunity to attend several of her faculty and staff meetings. I was always very impressed with the harmony and collaboration of the group. She created a work environment that resulted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution recognizing Springmont as a ‘Top Workplace in Atlanta’ in 2016.”
Jerri and her husband Eric, a landscape architect, have two grown children, Eli and Summer. Jerri's family is highly supportive of her work in Montessori education; both Eli and Summer graduated from Springmont before attending International Baccalaureate and Independent high schools, respectively. Jerri's family will make Atlanta and Houston their home. We look forward to welcoming Jerri and her family for visits over the coming months, while recognizing that Jerri has continuing responsibilities at Springmont, and that David Coe will continue as Head at St. Stephen’s through June 30. The Board of Trustees will appoint a Transition Committee to assist with various aspects of this leadership change, and you will hear more about plans to celebrate David Coe’s distinguished tenure soon.
Thank you to all who participated in the search process. We want to express our gratitude to the staff of St. Stephen’s Church and School and to the Search Committee, consisting of Trustees Dan Binder, Zack Coapland, Tom Cordell, Gail Creech, and Casey Hackney, as well as to the Advisory Committee for the search, consisting of John Cornwell, Erin Elmore, Shannon Hesse, Sid Kaul, Gladis Martin, Liz Newchurch, Paige Pecore, Michael Stambaugh, and Carol Szulc. Thanks to their efforts and those of so many others in our community who participated, St. Stephen’s is poised for a bold and bright next chapter under Jerri’s leadership.
The Reverend Lisa Hunt
Chair, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School Board of Trustees
Vice-Chair, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School Board of Trustees