Upper School Principal Search

March 26, 2019

Dear Visitation Community:

I am pleased to announce Terence “Terry” Murray has been selected as Visitation Academy’s new Upper School Principal effective July 2019. As you know, our Upper School Principal Search Committee, with help from Carney, Sandoe & Associates, embarked on an exhaustive nationwide, multi-step search and interview process this past November; a process that narrowed the field to three exceptional finalists. Over the first two weeks of March, each candidate toured the school and met with various members of our community. A huge thank you to all of you who attended these sessions and provided your valuable feedback.

It was extremely important to find an individual that possessed the right combination of qualities to lead our Upper School. To be considered for this position, there was an expectation and requirement that the individual be a practicing Catholic and have ample experience in secondary education. In addition, we wanted someone who is a dynamic, forward thinking, visionary, courageous, decisive, and unbiased leader and will apply these traits daily to provide structure, growth, and foresight to the stellar academic and extra-curricular programs already in place. We have found that in Terry.

Terry is thrilled to be joining the Visitation family, expressing the following when he learned of his selection as Upper School Principal, “I am honored to be chosen for this position and am eager to become part of the Visitation community. Visitation will allow me to connect my faith life to the work I do with students, parents and faculty as they each shape their own Visitation experience.”

Terry had a connection to Viz long before he applied for the Upper School Principal position. Both his mother and aunt graduated from the Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, so he was surrounded by our school’s culture and history – right down to the Viz crescent – his entire life. Terry comes to us from Dallas, Texas, where he has been serving as Head of Upper School for The Hockaday School, an independent, college preparatory day and boarding school for girls. He is a true champion of empowering young women with the knowledge and leadership skills needed to realize their individual potential.

While his career path took him to Texas, Terry received a Bachelor of Arts – History/Education and Master of Arts – Urban Affairs from Saint Louis University. His impressive 27 years of experience includes varied roles at Mary Institute St. Louis Country Day School (MICDS), most recently as Dean of Students. He also held a teaching position in the History Department and served as Head Coach, Men’s Soccer and Director of Summer School during his tenure at MICDS. Terry got his start in education at St. Louis University High, teaching, coaching and serving as a class moderator.

For Terry, the decision to move back to St. Louis was very much a family decision, and it is one he, his wife Colleen and their three children, MaryClare (12), Charlie (12), and Joseph (8), are delighted about. “My family and I are looking forward to returning to St. Louis and reconnecting with family, friends, and of course the Cardinals. I am excited to work together with the Viz community to build on the school’s strong foundation and promote its continued growth.”

Terry is an experienced administrator who understands independent and Catholic schools both here in St. Louis and nationally. It is evident that he understands our central mission and vision to create a platform where we help our young women, “be who they are and be that well in order to give glory to the divine artist whose handiwork we are.” His entire career has been dedicated to this pursuit, and he repeatedly showed that during his visit with us. We look forward to his arrival this summer.

If you have not done so already, you can find Terry’s complete resume, review the Upper School Principal job description, and learn more about the search and interview process methodology on the Visitation Academy website.

I am excited to partner with Terry and look forward to working together to achieve the critical goals and objectives of the school’s strategic plan:

  • Embrace inclusive Catholic Salesian community;
  • Celebrate Viz’s unique identity;
  • Enrich educational spaces; and
  • Enhance financial strength and sustainability.

Please join me in welcoming Terry and his family to our Visitation family.

In Christ,

David Colón

Head of School

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October 12, 2018:

Dear Visitation Community,

One of the highlights of my brief tenure has been getting to know Mrs. Barbara McMullen, the principal of our Upper School.  Barb has dedicated 25 years of her life to Viz and serves as a shining example of the best of our school. That is why I am announcing Barb’s retirement, effective June 2019, with a mixture of sadness for our community and excitement for Barb to pursue the next chapter in her life’s story. Barb is looking forward to dedicating more time to her family and pursuing her interests in and around St. Louis.

As Barb wrote in her letter to me announcing her retirement:

“I have been blessed to have chosen a career path that has given me the opportunity to spend twenty-five years at Visitation Academy, a place that has guided me through the teachings of St. Francis and St. Jane to become a better person.”

It’s impossible to describe the impact she’s had on our students, but the closest I can come is to recall the standing ovation she received when we celebrated her 25 years of service at our Mass of the Holy Spirit in September. Students, parents, faculty, and alumnae applauded with a genuine love for Barb. As we head into this year, please make sure you find the time to stop in and visit Barb so you can reminisce, celebrate, and just plain tell her what she’s meant to the Viz community.

Mrs. McMullen has the privilege of being incredibly beloved despite being Viz’s “top cop” for years. She has never been focused on being a disciplinarian; her approach is through and through about teaching:  encouraging each student to learn, be responsible, and be accountable for her actions. She has overseen an ever-changing curriculum to make sure Viz students are prepared for college and life beyond the classroom. She is a strong advocate for both students and teachers and listens carefully to everyone before making a decision. Her encouragement has resulted in a culture that is uniquely collaborative for both students and faculty.

Barb has truly embraced the teachings of Sts. Francis and Jane as exemplified in her servant leadership. Sacrifice & service; never looking to be the center of attention. Her gentle strength has allowed her students to “Be who you are and be that well in order to give glory to the Divine Artist, whose we are.”

In the coming weeks, we are going to begin the task of hiring a new Upper School Head. Please stay tuned as we start up our process. For now, however, please join me in thanking Mrs. McMullen for everything she has done for all of us.

Blessings in Christ,

David

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Upper School Principal Search, November 2018

To the Visitation Academy Community,

We are committed to a thorough, consistent, and transparent Upper School Principal search process. Given the importance of this search, feedback throughout the search process from as wide a group of stakeholders as possible is necessary. As such, I have outlined the search process on the next page in a reasonable amount of detail so that the Viz community can be aware of, and participate in, the process. We may need to exercise some flexibility on the specific dates as the process unfolds, however, we will keep you informed of any significant changes.

The Search Committee consists of the following members of the Visitation community:

Dr. Marlise Albert, Lower School Principal

Mrs. Mary Bodlovich, Upper School Counselor

Mrs. Debbie Dean, Learning Consultant

Mrs. Anita Dunn, Upper School Math

Mrs. Heather Essig, Upper & Middle School Science

Sister Veronica Haronik, VHM

Mrs. Danielle Harrison ’83, Director of Mission Integration

Ms. Ann Hein ‘82, Trustee

Ms. Kate Hennekes ’04, Alumnae Association Vice President

Mrs. Angie Jung, Middle School Principal

Mr. Michael Mohan, Theology Chair

Mrs. Sarah Walsh ’03, Upper & Middle School Technology

Mrs. Katie Wilson, Upper & Middle School Assistant Principal

The Committee will perform the initial review of candidate resumes and related background information. Please keep in mind that this process is, in its early stages, highly confidential. There may be local candidates who are not ready to “go public” with their candidacy; others some may know from out of town. To protect the privacy of the candidates, the early part of the process is confidential. We have asked members of the Committee to respect that privacy, and we ask you to do the same.

When the Committee has selected a field of finalists, we will invite the Viz community to meet the finalists. Your feedback and wisdom are appreciated and absolutely necessary to inform the decision, so please participate to the best of your ability.

Thanks to all who have participated thus far through meetings and/or by completing the survey. Thanks also in advance for your continued participation in and support of this important process.

In Christ,

David Colón

Head of School

 

Timeline for the Search Process:

1) Carney Sandoe &Associates Site Visit and Search Committee Meeting: November 7/8
– Constituent engagement meetings with students, parents, faculty, staff, Board of Trustees, and the Sisters
-Conduct an extended “Search Readiness Workshop” with the Search Committee to learn current best practices in hiring and to gauge the needs of the Visitation community.

2) Community Survey: Week of November 12
-Determine community priorities

3) Launch National Search and Build a Candidate Pool: Mid-December
-Activate Carney Sandoe’s national and international network of Catholic educators through the Carney Sandoe and Associates’ networks
-Post search link on the Visitation Academy website
-Activate Visitation’s networks in St. Louis and beyond (alumnae, community connections, etc.)

4) Search Committee Meets to Determine Finalist Pool: End of January
-Schedule Search Committee meetings to review pool of candidates
-Select semi-finalists
-Interview semi-finalists
-Conduct reference checks

5) Finalist Campus Visits: Mid-late February through March 15
-Bring three finalists to campus
-Meet with stakeholder groups: students, parents, faculty, staff, alumnae, and Sisters
-Conduct further background checks
-Stakeholder groups evaluate candidates and provide feedback to the Search Committee
-Search Committee makes a recommendation to the Head of School
-Head of School selects the next Upper School Principal

Welcoming the New Principal: March 15-July 1
-Develop onboarding plan for the new Upper School Principal
-Plan spring visit for the new Upper School Principal to get to know the Viz community

Please Note: This is a proposed timeline; changes may be made if necessary.

 

Upper School Principal Job Description:

View the Upper School Principal Description here.