We are excited to announce that the Board of Trustees has appointed Jalene Spain Thomas as the fourth Head of School at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School, effective July 1, 2022, following a robust national search. Unanimously recommended by the Search Committee, Jalene received the enthusiastic, unanimous support of the Board of Trustees and, in turn, the Vestry of St. Patrick’s Parish, which ratified the appointment. She will succeed current Head of School Peter A. Barrett.
A collaborative, energetic, and joyful leader, Jalene is a gifted, seasoned educator with a unique and inspiring passion for the education of young people. With a two-decade career in Washington-area Episcopal schools, she comes to us with an innate understanding of our fundamental values and our deep commitment to the development of the whole child. Jalene will be the first to tell you that education is truly her vocation, a fact that is reflected in her unwavering dedication to building a learning community in which every child is known, loved, and respected.
As the current Director of Lower School at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School (SSSAS), a coeducational Age 3 to Grade 12 Episcopal day school in Alexandria, Virginia, Jalene oversees an independent campus of 400 students and 70 faculty members. In her time at SSSAS, she has inspired innovation in curriculum, expanded enrollment in the early childhood years, and furthered the development of a cohesive academic and social experience for students and parents across grade levels. A lifelong learner and child-centered educator, Jalene brings her firsthand experience as a classroom teacher to her relationships with faculty and staff and fosters an environment of creativity and accountability in the pursuit of academic excellence. As a member of the school’s senior leadership team, she is an active participant in Board of Trustees meetings and works in close partnership with her peer directors for the Middle School and Upper School, which are on separate campuses. Jalene has been integral to the school’s pandemic response, is actively involved with the current Campus Master Planning Committee, takes a leadership role in their Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging efforts, and is a member of the Racial Justice Steering Committee.
Jalene began her career in a Kindergarten classroom at Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School, where she spent 16 years. She ultimately became Assistant Head of School and served as Acting Head of School during a time of leadership transition. An active member of the broader Washington, D.C. educational community, Jalene is Vice President of the Governing Board of the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal Schools Association (MAESA), co-founded the Administrators of Color in the Washington Metropolitan Area, and recently served as Vice Chair of the Board of the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys, where she worked alongside Peter Barrett. Throughout her many years serving Washington-area Episcopal schools, Jalene has long respected St. Patrick’s values and reputation. Jalene has an impressive resume, having attended Duke University for her undergraduate work in psychology and art history and earning a Masters in Private School Leadership from Teachers College at Columbia University, where she remains involved as a member of the Alumni Council.
While these many accomplishments certainly distinguish Jalene, the Search Committee found particularly compelling her tremendous energy and warmth, the robustness of her pursuit of ongoing professional development as an educational leader, and the relationships she has built as a result. The enthusiastic support for Jalene from her professional colleagues and their confidence in her capacity and drive to rise to this next level were unwavering and universal. She is passionately driven to pursue the question, “How can children learn best?”—and, in turn, “How can schools meet this expectation?”
The search process has been a labor of love for a school we love, a process that has allowed us to understand the Day School more deeply and to see it through the lens of others. We confirmed that the most treasured feature of St. Patrick’s are the people who subscribe to our values and strive to live them every day. The amazing St. Patrick’s community is made up of YOU and many others.
We are grateful to all of you who provided input and feedback along the way, as your perspectives shaped our charge. Following surveys, group meetings, and one-on-ones, we created a strong position description and subsequently attracted an exceptional roster of highly qualified candidates from across the country. The reputation of St. Patrick’s as a leading Nursery to Grade 8 school, its team of talented faculty and staff, and its vibrant, committed community made the Head of School position a highly desirable opportunity. Thank you for pushing us and supporting us to fulfill our promise to find a visionary, student-centered educator deeply committed to academic excellence and development of the whole child. With a dedicated Search Committee and a sound process, we offered Jalene a coherent, collective vision with which she is firmly aligned.
We were intent on finding an individual who could build, with confidence, upon Peter Barrett’s extraordinary 28 years of leadership at St. Patrick’s—someone to further strengthen the Day School as a unique community and someone dedicated to Episcopal values, inclusivity and belonging, and the development of character and responsible citizenship. We found these qualities in abundance in Jalene, a leader who will sustain and enhance our mission with strategic intention, thoughtfulness, and care. She is the embodiment of St. Patrick’s values and ethos, and we are thrilled to announce her appointment to our community.
Mia Bass, Board Chair
The Rev. Dr. Kurt Gerhard, Rector
Mashea Ashton, Trustee and Search Committee Co-Chair
Rebecca Kim, Trustee and Search Committee Co-Chair