Transformation Begins Here
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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
September 28, 2021
Dear NOVA Community,
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am very excited to announce that Tiffany Price has been selected in an unanimous vote to be the next Head of School for NOVA Middle School, effective July 1, 2022. Tiffany succeeds Barbara Hutton, whose dedicated service to NOVA will conclude June 30, 2022. After skillfully leading the NOVA community for nine years, Barbara and the NOVA administration will work closely with Tiffany in the months ahead to ensure a seamless transition of leadership.
Tiffany comes to NOVA from the Seabury School, in Tacoma, Washington where she has been serving as Assistant Head of School since 2018. Before that, Tiffany served as a teacher and director of studies at Seabury. Going back to 1995, Tiffany taught at St. Frances Episcopal Day School in Houston, Olympic View Elementary School in Federal Way, and Annie Wright School in Tacoma, WA. In addition to classroom experience, Tiffany has served as a K-6 consultant for McGraw-Hill School Education Group. Tiffany is a member of the 2018-2020 NWAIS Pathways to Leadership Cohort. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education from Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX in 1994 where she majored in Child Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood education.
Tiffany is a proven leader who comes with a record of increasing her school’s enrollment during these challenging years. Her inspirational leadership-by-example style has inspired the Seabury School community. She has a passion for education of highly capable children and a delightful appreciation for all things quirky. Tiffany embraces and has the skills to continue NOVA’ mission to foster the joyful pursuit of intellectual, social, and emotional expansion through a challenging curriculum that nourishes highly capable students. Tiffany is excited to begin building relationships at NOVA and understands the importance of cultivating relationships both within the school and in the larger community. Tiffany’s accomplishments, warmth, and joy were felt by all constituencies at NOVA.
Tiffany’s selection is the result of a long and thoughtful nationwide search that began in January 2021. From an initial pool of 14 individuals, the Search Committee reduced the pool to four candidates who were invited to interviews in August 2021. Following these interviews, two candidates were invited to visit NOVA this September, where they met with students, faculty, staff members, parents, administrators, alumni and trustees. On September 19th, the Search Committee unanimously supported Tiffany as its nominee to the Board of Trustees. On September 20th, the Board of Trustees unanimously ratified that recommendation.
Upon accepting the position, Tiffany wrote “I am thrilled to be joining you as the next head of school. I enjoyed my time with each of the constituencies during my recent visit. The students’ questions and vision for the school fueled my desire to bring my knowledge and experience of working with highly capable students to NOVA. In speaking with the teachers, it was apparent that their expertise of working with the students is top-notch. And my conversations with parents and the board have helped me to approach the transition with important goals for NOVA in mind. I look forward to getting to know you all soon!”
I am grateful for the diligent work from the Search Committee who guided the selection. I am proud of the invaluable participation from the Board of Trustees, community advisory group (which included faculty, staff, parents, alumni, students, community members), and our search consultant, Joan Beauregard from Educators’ Collaborative.
The selection of the Head of School is one of the greatest responsibilities of a Board of Trustees. We began the search with a thorough process of describing the “magic” of NOVA Middle School. Articulating NOVA’s special character, mission, goals and challenges allowed us to recruit a strong pool of candidates and ultimately appoint a candidate who will provide a dynamic stewardship of the NOVA values that we all treasure while leading us into the future. The NOVA community can be proud Tiffany has accepted the Head of School position.
Please join with me in congratulating NOVA’s next Head of School, Tiffany Price.
Aaron Coby, Ph.D.
President, NOVA Middle School Board of Trustees
April 13, 2021
Dear Members of the NOVA Community,
I would like to offer Barbara my thanks for her exceptional leadership. At NOVA today, Barbara announced that she will be retiring in June 2022. The board has initiated a transition process to hire a new Head of School.
NOVA Middle school has been fortunate to have Barbara Hutton as Head of School for the past nine years. Her retirement plans have been known to the board for some time. As part of her 2019 contract, the board discussed this retirement plan. We are grateful to have ample time to lay a foundation for success for the new NOVA head of school. Barbara, the Board and I are committed to using this transition as a time to reinvigorate the NOVA programs. Barbara will continue in the role of Head of School until her successor begins in July 2022. Thereafter, Barbara plans to enjoy beautiful Colorado with her partner Pam.
During her time as head of school, Barbara spearheaded the third reaccreditation for NOVA by NWAIS (Northwest Association of Independent Schools). The eight-year process culminated in a site visit by educators and administrators from throughout the region resulting in reaccreditation NOVA in 2019. Barbara has worked consistently to continuously improve NOVA. Among her accomplishments:
Barbara has thoughtfully led NOVA through this undeniably difficult year providing stable, consistent leadership. As the pandemic emerged, Barbara quickly pivoted to a meaningful online program. This year, she has continued to develop an online curriculum as well as launch the hybrid re-opening in February. Barbara will continue to lead NOVA next year offering full in-person learning. Making consequential decisions for an organization in the setting of uncertainty and risk is extremely difficult. The board is appreciative of Barbara’s poised leadership.
Personally, I have witnessed Barbara’s fabulous leadership as she patiently and relentlessly breathes life into NOVA values of commitment, connection, intention, and joy. Fostering these four values is no small feat.
The Board of Trustees has created a Search Committee to conduct a comprehensive local, national, and international search. We have engaged Joan Beauregard of Educators’ Collaborative, a national consulting firm specializing in working with independent schools to assist us with the head of school search. I work with Joan closely and am confident in her ability to hire the best candidate to fit with NOVA’s culture and move us forward. Our goal is to have the next head of school identified and announced by late fall next year, to begin his or her service on July 2022. A search committee will be formed to guide the process and gather information of the various constituencies of the NOVA community. Aaron Coby (currently board vice chair) will transition to Board president in June, and I (as past president) will be co-chairing the search committee along with past board president Jennifer Williamson-Forster.
On behalf of the current and past trustees, I wish to express my gratitude for Barbara’s leadership and friendship.
Benjamin F. Merrifield
President, NOVA Board of Trustees
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