Head of School Announcement

Martin J. Berardi, President of the Park School Board of Trustees, announced the Board’s decision to appoint Jeremy Besch, the Assistant Head of School who is slated to become Interim Head as of July 1, 2018, to the Head of School position on a permanent basis.
 
In announcing this decision, Mr. Berardi said, “We are fortunate to have had a strong internal candidate in Jeremy Besch. Following Jeremy’s acceptance of the Interim position, the Board decided to engage in a process involving the whole school community to determine if Jeremy should be elevated to the Head of School on a permanent basis. Through a series of meetings with key constituency groups, the Board determined unanimously that the best course of action for the school’s future would be removing the word “interim” and appointing Jeremy to lead Park into the future. We are confident that The Park School will prosper under Jeremy’s leadership.”
 
Mr. Besch, a Buffalo native, is a graduate of St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, Canisius College and has a Master’s in Executive Leadership and Change, with a focus in Leadership in Higher Education, from Daemen College. He started as an English teacher at Park in 2003 and has served as Dean of Students, Head of Upper School, and Assistant Head of School. He and his wife, Rebecca, are parents of two Park students, Calvin ’21 and Fox ’23.
 
Besch said, “It is with swelling pride and enormous gratitude that I accept the Board of Trustees' offer to be the next Head of School at The Park School. The board's leadership in this endeavor, under the direction of board president Marty Berardi, has been thorough and engaging - a truly Park process! I am excited beyond words to continue the good work of all of those who have come before me, and to lead Park into the next chapter of its incredible history. We are poised to do great things, and I can't wait to get started, in partnership with you all.
 
Besch continued, “Park is a community that I feel a deep connection to, in large part because I've grown into who I am over my 15 years here - a process that reflects the same work we do with our students. I want to offer thanks to everyone - students and alumni, colleagues, the parent community - who has walked with me along this path, especially to my wife, Becky, and my two boys, Calvin and Fox (who are life-long Pioneers!). I also want to expressly thank Chris Lauricella, whose excellent leadership over the past decade has fostered growth in our community and in me, leaving me ready for this next adventure with all of you.”

The full message from Mr. Berardi to the Park community is below.

March 20, 2018

Dear Friends,

It is with great pleasure that I am announcing the selection of Jeremy Besch as the new permanent Head of School for Park beginning July 1, 2018. As many of you know, Jeremy had already accepted the position as the Interim Head of School for the 2018-2019 school year replacing Chris Lauricella who leaves Park at the end of the school year after a very successful ten (10) year leadership role. It was the decision of the Board of Trustees of the School to begin a process whereas Jeremy should be considered a viable internal candidate for the permanent Head of School based on his many years of experience at Park, and his leadership roles over those years culminating in his current position as Assistant Head of School.

The Trustees decided that the best approach in considering Jeremy for this very important role would be to construct a “vetting” process where we could have as many as possible participate in this consideration of Jeremy as the next Head of School. A decision was made to use the services of Cecily Rodriguez, the owner of an Organizational Consulting Firm Shift Happens and a current Park parent, to develop an inclusive process where six (6) stakeholder groups would be selected and populated with: past board members, current board members, alumni, parents, faculty, and administrators, in addition to two groups of current students. This process took over two months of actual interviews and meetings and resulted in over 150 specific questions posed to Jeremy by 31 different interviewers. This level of detail and inclusion was required to give the entire Park community confidence that the process was thorough and provided a valid decision-making process in selecting the school’s next leader.

Prior to the start of the overall process, both the Board and Shift Happens spent time developing a comprehensive job description for this position along with what was felt to be the most important competencies required to be a successful Head of School. Based off this description and the competencies developed, our program revolved around questions and discussion related to each of the ten (10) competencies listed in the job description resulting in a detailed and substantiated scoring methodology. Jeremy did very well across all listed competencies and really out-performed in character and especially organizational fit. In addition to this approach, several other measurement tools were used to complete the vetting of Jeremy as a viable candidate.

After this exhaustive process and several active meetings and discussions since, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the selection of Jeremy Besch as Park’s Head of School at its March 19, 2018, meeting. What the Board sees for the future of The Park School is a strong internal candidate who will provide the smoothest of transitions in leadership while continuing the path of growth and improvement the School is currently following. Jeremy is best positioned to be the face of Park and the leader of our wonderful progressive educational programs, the exciting new Knopp-Hailpern Science Center, and the exposure of all of Western New York to the beautiful 34-acre campus Park calls home.

The Board of Trustees had a choice to make with the pending departure of Chris Lauricella after his ten years of leadership. That choice was to begin an open search for the next Head of School or to consider an internal candidate. Park was very fortunate to have a strong internal candidate in Jeremy Besch who has fifteen (15) years of growth and leadership at Park. The Board feels very confident that the correct choice was made, and The Park School will prosper under Jeremy’s leadership.

Yours truly,

Martin J. Berardi
President, Board of Trustees
    • Incoming Head of School Jeremy Besch

      Incoming Head of School Jeremy Besch

    • Board of Trustees President Martin Berardi

      Board of Trustees President Martin Berardi

Founded in 1912, The Park School of Buffalo has the distinction of being one the oldest Progressive schools in the country. Park is an independent, co-educational school serving approximately 300 students enrolled in prekindergarten (3 and 4 year olds), lower school (kindergarten through grade 4), middle school (grades 5 through 8), and upper school (grades 9 through 12). Park is uniquely situated on 34 beautiful acres in Amherst, New York. The School’s campus – formerly a farm – includes a pond, marsh, gardens, and a greenhouse while being located just minutes from downtown Buffalo and easily accessible from many communities throughout Western New York. Park’s educational philosophy embraces active, student-centered learning, delivered by exceptional teachers who design and continuously update a robust curriculum. Faculty members approach each student as an individual within the context of a kind and respectful community. From the preschool years through college preparation, The Park School of Buffalo helps learners realize their own unique potentials and prepares them to be confident, successful, life-long learners.

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