Head of School Search

Head of School Search

April 14, 2021

Dear NOVA community

In 2013 when I came to NOVA as Head of School from Colorado, I intended to stay the three year term of my contract, set the school up for further success for the next Head and then return to Colorado. I was warned that I would fall in love with NOVA, Olympia and the Pacific Northwest and not leave. They were right. The Board and I subsequently agreed to one, then a second renewal of my contract with the second renewal being the last I was willing to make. And now the time has come to make way for new leadership to guide NOVA through its third decade of service to highly capable and gifted middle school students and their families. Next year will be my ninth and final year as Head of School. It is NOVA’s 30th year and we will celebrate! Then I will return to Colorado and bask in my retirement. 

During the past eight years we have built an extraordinary faculty, made professional development a funding priority, and dedicated ourselves to deepening our understanding of highly capable/gifted adolescents and those with neurodiversity. In addition, we expanded and deepened our understanding and skills about social emotional development. We initiated a robust Community Educations Series (stalled briefly by COVID) and expanded community activities for students and families. 

I am proud of the energy and commitment the faculty and staff have invested in NOVA. They have been open to reflection on their practice, they have dared to make changes that deepen and expand the educational program we offer. And they have committed to expanding their professional skills modeling the lifelong learning which we aspire to for our students. They have given up the “sage on the stage” approach to teaching and embraced the “guide on the side” approach that empowered students to have a voice and take responsibility for their own learning. Faculty and staff are willing to investigate the shadows where we have areas for growth and innovate and problem solve. They are a remarkable group of individuals. 

Our organizational structure has been strengthened and policies and procedures created, implemented, and revised to respond to our changing community and its legal and cultural requirements. Our budget puts a priority on employees and student services and opportunities. A formal enrollment management plan and more robust marketing plan is in place to tell our story. 

The Board of Trustees have embraced their role as strategists ensuring the future stability and sustainability of NOVA. They adopted a Real Time Strategic Planning (RTSP) process that maximized our ability to pivot with changes and respond to the environment - a decision that certainly proved valuable in the last year. They have been partners in leading the school during the years of my tenure.

As most educators will tell you, knowing and building relationships with students has been the highlight of my NOVA experience. Being an observer of these young people as they begin to know and lean into their essential spirit, core values, passions and sense of self is inspiring and gratifying. Knowing that they leave NOVA with a sense of who they are is, in my humble opinion, the gift that will sustain them through their lives. NOVA does that.

Finally, I have complete confidence in the trustees as they launch this Head Search. They are the guardians of NOVA’s legacy, mission, and vision. I am certain they will choose a leader to take NOVA to its next level of service to students and their families.

With gratitude for the honor to serve for and with you,

Barbara Mitchell Hutton
Head of School