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Matthew Horvat to fill Head of School position following extensive search process

Photo used with permission from Luke Pickering
Matthew Horvat will assume the Head of School position for the 2023-24 school year, effective July 1. The Board of Trustees worked in tandem with the Head of School Search Committee to select a final candidate after a search process spanning nine months.

Matthew Horvat will assume the Head of School position for the 2023-24 school year effective July 1, according to an email sent to the community by the Head of School Search Committee Oct. 26.

The Board of Trustees worked in tandem with the Search Committee to select a Head of School after a search process spanning nine months. Horvat will serve as the permanent replacement for Interim Head of School Coreen Hester, following Former Head of School Robin Appleby’s resignation Nov. 19, 2021.

Erin Roth, Chair of the Board of Trustees and member of the Search Committee, said although the search required a significant amount of time, its outcome dictates the school’s path forward. Thus, she said the Committee strived for inclusivity and transparency as it will affect the wider community.

“You want to make the right decision,” Roth said. “We’ve done our very best to be incredibly thorough. We’ve done our best to be incredibly inclusive of the community throughout the process. We’ve done our best to treat the candidates really well and to ensure their confidentiality throughout the process.”

Horvat has served as Head of School for 10 years at The Overlake School in Washington. Horvat is credited with possessing “extensive knowledge of curriculum, accreditation expertise, strategic planning and implementation, financial acumen and significant fundraising experience,” per an email from the Head of School Search Committee to the community Oct. 26.

Forming the Search Committee and establishing the search firm

To kickstart the selection process, the Search Committee was formed – comprised of trustees and members of the Senior Leadership Team, as well as faculty and staff representatives – according to Roth.

After selecting Search Committee members, a firm was subsequently selected. As per independent school practice, the search firm was responsible for providing support and guidance for the Committee in each step of the selection process. The school considered around six firms before selecting Resource Group 175 (RG175), according to Roth.

Roth said the Board of Trustees conducted interviews with three finalist firms, probing for “how they would support the search” and “how they would go about finding candidates for the role.”

 “You hire a firm who you really believe in and trust,” Roth said. “You really need to rely on their experience. Not only were they longtime [Head of Schools], but they’re longtime search consultants so they understand the market and what people are looking for and how we fit in that whole world.”

Releasing position description and recruiting candidates 

Once the Search Committee and search firm were organized, the firm visited campus to understand the school and its culture, as well its vision for the future and what kind of Head of School would fit that future, according to Roth.

RG175 also conducted a survey of students, parents, faculty and staff before presenting the results to the Search Committee for discussion about the school’s description to be used in the search firm’s position statement.

Roth said the statement described the school as a whole alongside “its history and its ethos” as well as “more granular details about the divisions, the program and the community.” 

After the position description was published, the Search Committee gathered cover letters and contacted potential candidates who qualified for the position. 

Roth said previous experience was crucial to understand what is required of the position.

“That’s where their sort of longtime experience was really important,” Roth said. “Every school is different, and so I think they did a really good job of understanding what ASL is about and then thinking of the types of heads or any candidate who might really fit the bill.”

Graphic by Grace Hamilton

Narrowing candidate list

Throughout the summer, roughly 80 candidates applied for the job before RG175 began narrowing down the candidates. When the candidates were narrowed down to 20, the firm gave the Search Committee the dossiers of the candidates – a collection of the applicant’s CV, writing sample and interviews conducted by the firm, per Roth. 

Roth said each member of the committee was then able to voice their own opinions about the candidates. Through discussion, Roth said the committee narrowed the candidates down to 10 semi-finalists. 

“I have to say that there was widespread agreement on who we wanted to narrow it down to,” Roth said. “The interviews are more of a personal connection than the CV or the writing sample. You know, so there’s that one link closer to the person.”

The Search Committee conducted three one-hour interviews with each semi-finalist before narrowing the candidates down to three finalists, who would visit the school in August and September.

Finalists visit the school

At the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, each of the three finalists visited campus for two days. In addition to touring the school, each candidate attended interview sessions with parents, faculty, staff and students.

Willa Blair (’23), who attended student interviews with the finalists, said they hoped to gain insight into each potential candidate and the future the candidate might execute at the school.

“This is the turning point of where the trajectory of the school is going to go in the next couple years, and I appreciated the opportunity by the school to have student input,” Blair said. 

Blair said they value the school’s transparency in the selection process along with the opportunities for parents, students and faculty alike to engage. 

Sage Saunders (’24) said the interviews were an effective way for students to share their opinions as well as understand how the finalists would address students’ needs. 

“[The questions] were unfiltered and we get to hear an unfiltered response from the candidates,” Saunders said. “We really get to see how they would respond to our needs and our questions, and we get to ask questions catered to what we want as students.”

Moreover, Blair said opportunities for student input piqued their interest, as they could learn more about each candidate and how they might fit the mold of the school.

“I would say at the beginning, it was mainly curiosity,” Blair said. “I just wanted to see who was a finalist for the Head of School. Now, I would like to say I’m hopeful. I hope that after all of this we’ve got a good candidate. I’m excited for what they are going to implement in the school.”

Kanak Roy (’25) said the school has effectively incorporated a variety of student voices to ensure a diverse group can express their opinions in the selection process.


Graphic by Ruby Rogers

“It’s been kind of, like, eye-opening, not only for faculty but students who are now being included with their voices,” Roy said. “Because for everyone else, all they see is a new Head, but for the people putting the work in or meeting the candidates, you get to see different kinds of authority and the experience people have and how they’re going to bring it to ASL.” 

Saunders said she appreciates observing the community unite through the selection process after a period of instability, citing input and engagement from the wider community. 

“It’s a great way for students to be able to share their opinion and their thoughts and just assert their own opinion in the process,” Saunders said.

Head of School position verdict

After the finalists’ visits to the school, the Search Committee made an appointment recommendation to the Board of Trustees. After that recommendation, the Board made a final decision and offered the job to Horvat. 

Roy said it is crucial for incoming Head of School Matthew Horvat to connect with students and seek to understand student voice. Without a mechanism by which student voice is incorporated in school-wide action, Roy said any action taken by the Head of School would stagnate as they would not understand “what their students want.” 

Ultimately, Roth said education and the well-being of students are placed at the forefront of the school’s mission, which was mirrored in the Head of School selection process. 

“ASL is about educating kids at the end of the day, and that’s the most important thing,” Roth said. “Who can inspire the right academic moves, who can inspire trust within the community and who is excited about building community? When we’re thinking about the future of the school, we’re thinking about what the best way to do that is, and who’s the best person to lead the community in doing that.”

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About the Contributors
Grace Hamilton
Grace Hamilton, Editor-in-Chief
Grace Hamilton (’23) is the Editor-in-Chief of The Standard. Her love for writing stemmed into a passion for journalism, and she became involved with The Standard in Grade 9. Journalism provides her a powerful platform to inform the ASL community and learn more about local and global perspectives, issues and events. Outside of journalism, Hamilton leads the Sustainability Council, writes creatively and sails competitively.
Ruby Rogers, Media Team
Ruby Rogers ('26) is a member of the Media Team for The Standard in Advanced Journalism.

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