On August 16, 2021, the Board of Trustees announced the appointment of 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.
On December 14, 2020, Head of School Peter A. Barrett and Board Chair Mia Bass announced the plan for Peter's retirement at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.
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. The current Director of Lower School at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia, Jalene is a gifted, seasoned educator with a two-decade career in Washington-area Episcopal schools.
We are grateful to the Search Committee, co-chaired by Trustees Mashea Ashton P '25 and Rebecca Kim P '24, for their work during this demanding—and ultimately resoundingly successful—process.
- August 16 - St. Patrick's Board of Trustees Appoints Next Head of School
- July 7 - HOS Search Community Update
- April 15 - Head of School Search Committee Update
- March 8 - Head of School Search Committee Update
- January 29 - Head of School Search Community Survey
- January 14 - HOS Search Committee Update
August 16, 2021
Dear Members of the St. Patrick’s Community,
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
Dear Members of the St. Patrick’s Community:
The summer is now fully underway, but the Search Committee continues to work to identify the next Head of School of St. Patrick’s. We are pleased to provide you with a progress report today to share more information on the impressive pool of high-caliber candidates and how each was evaluated, the status of the search, and what you should expect this summer.
High-Caliber Candidates Guided by your input on critical leadership attributes and priorities, search consultant Spencer Stuart identified a pool of prospective candidates that included individuals with a broad range of experiences, including sitting Heads of School, Assistant/Associate Heads, Division Heads, and other school leaders. Candidates hailed from independent schools across the country, with St. Patrick’s strong reputation stretching coast to coast. The pool was not just broad in its experience, but also brought diversity of gender and racial and ethnic backgrounds, being almost evenly split between female and male candidates and nearly half identifying as people of color.
A Comprehensive Rubric As the Search Committee began to evaluate candidates, members relied on a standardized rubric based on the full breadth of categories outlined in the Head of School Position Specification, namely:
- A strong progression of leadership experience, including the ability to manage and collaborate with a team of scale and breadth and to successfully implement organizational change in the pursuit of academic excellence.
- An ability to develop authentic relationships with the range of stakeholders in our community and, in particular, through the use of strong communication skills.
- An ability to recruit and retain the kind of exceptional faculty and staff who have become the hallmark of the St. Patrick’s program.
- A demonstrated alignment with St. Patrick’s values and its Episcopal identity.
- An understanding of the Nursery-Grade 8 independent school model and the important roles of enrollment management and outplacement.
- A track record of impact in advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in one’s school community.
- A capacity for successful financial management and fundraising, demonstrated through either direct school experience or other professional opportunities.
Status of the Search After meeting virtually with many qualified candidates and applying the rubric described above, the Search Committee identified a select number of impressive candidates who were recently invited to visit St. Patrick’s. We were pleased that improving pandemic conditions allowed us to at last engage candidates in-person. To protect the privacy of these individuals, the candidates met with representatives from the community, including school leadership, members of the faculty and staff, and parents of both current students and alumni. We are deeply grateful for the invaluable feedback provided by these representatives.
From the beginning, our focus has been on identifying a leader who meets our high standards and satisfies the clear priorities laid out by this community—namely, a visionary servant-leader who prioritizes academic excellence and development of the whole child, while embracing an inclusive and caring community of students, families, and faculty and staff. We remain ever focused and committed to this goal.
As the summer progresses, the Search Committee will enter a quiet phase where you may expect less-frequent updates, but we remain committed to this critical work for the community and are dedicated in our pursuit of a strong leader for St. Patrick’s.
Our work continues toward the goal of naming a new Head of School by the fall, with service beginning in July of 2022. We are grateful for your continued support and commitment to St. Patrick’s. As always, the dedicated email address email@example.com is available for your thoughts and comments.
Mashea Ashton Rebecca Kim
Co-Chair, Search Committee Co-Chair, Search Committee
January 14, 2021
Dear Members of the St. Patrick’s Community:
As the search for St. Patrick’s next Head of School gets underway, we would like to share with you more information on the first important step in the process. Working with our executive search firm, Spencer Stuart, we will begin to gather feedback from you, our community, on what qualities and experiences are most important for the next Head of School. We hope that you will take the opportunity to participate. Your input is critical to the process!
Spencer Stuart has created a confidential email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, that we welcome you to use to provide feedback and thoughts on the search. This email will be available throughout the entire process.
A community-wide survey will soon be available for you to make your voice heard in the search. We hope that everyone in the St. Patrick’s community—current parents, parents of alumni, alumni, and faculty and staff—will all offer their valuable input!
In the coming weeks, we will hold listening sessions with a broad spectrum of stakeholders in our community, including faculty and staff, parents, and students. These sessions will provide a forum for many members of our community to share their perspectives with our search consultants. We will seek input from our alumni, parents of alumni, and grandparents via the electronic survey and dedicated email address described above.
For each discussion, the questions we pose will be the same:
- What is distinctive about St. Patrick’s?
- What are the opportunities and challenges facing the next Head of School?
- What experiences, background, characteristics, and attributes would you encourage the Search Committee to seek in the next Head of School?
- What advice do you have for the Search Committee?
On behalf of the Search Committee, thank you for supporting St. Patrick’s in this important work. Your insights will greatly help guide our work in the weeks and months ahead. You may visit our Head of School Search page on our website for community updates.
Mia Bass, Chair Rebecca Kim, Chair
Board of Trustees Head of School Search Committee
December 14, 2020
For more than a quarter of a century, I have had the best job in Washington. Since 1994, I have had the privilege of sharing work that I love with an amazing group of young people, their wonderfully supportive families, and a faculty and staff that couldn’t be more talented or dedicated to their craft. I will always treasure these relationships. However, there does come a moment, in the life of an individual and in the life of an institution, when it is time to turn toward what is next. Confident that time is now, I will make the 2021-2022 school year my final one as Head of School at St. Patrick’s.
Together, we have accomplished much during the last 27 years in imagining, creating, and animating exceptional settings for teaching and learning. St. Patrick’s has grown to become a thriving Nursery to Grade 8 school, one that has earned a stellar reputation well beyond the Washington area that it has served so well since 1956. Interest in the Day School is brisk. Our finances are strong. A generous community has supported superb facilities, real estate acquisitions, and endowment growth that offer a range of exciting options for the future. Even during a global pandemic, our campuses are alive with the intellectual, social and emotional, moral and spiritual, and physical activity necessary for young people to grow in healthy ways, reach for their full potential, and take their thoughtful places in a world that, while often confusing and sometimes even harsh, is nonetheless filled with beauty and possibility. Together, we have strived to educate those young people to be able to seize those possibilities in ways that engage and express their unique and vibrant selves yet always embrace the other. One of the many gifts of an education in the Episcopal tradition is the gathering recognition that we are all part of something much larger than ourselves. That theme weaves its way, purposefully and joyfully, through a St. Patrick’s education.
Just as we have accomplished much, there is also much to accomplish across the next 18 months. I am making this announcement at an almost unimaginably difficult time for our city, for our country, and for so many others with whom we share this fragile planet. Justifiably proud of the faculty and staff who have made St. Patrick’s their school-home, I have never been more proud of them, and of our wider community, than I have been during the last ten months. Together, we have worked to meet the challenges before us by always returning to our touchstone, the infinite value of every individual. Our faculty and staff have long demonstrated, but in particular abundance in recent months, their knowledge of craft, their commitment to the healthy growth of young people, their resilience in the face of challenge, and their courage in deploying those critical forces.
Mia, neither you nor I anticipated the challenges that were awaiting us when you became Board Chair a year and a half ago. You were stepping into a role that, to my good fortune and that of the institution, had been filled by a succession of truly remarkable individuals, a legacy that you have vigorously upheld. I am deeply grateful to you, to your predecessors as Board Chair, and to the current Board of Trustees and those with whom I have worked in the past for your support of me personally, for the opportunities for growth you have offered me and, even more important, for your support of the special place we call St. Patrick’s.
So, there is work now to be done. I look forward to engaging in it with you, with my faculty and staff colleagues, and with the broader community to keep St. Patrick’s fresh and vibrant before I hand this role over to another fortunate soul on July 1, 2022.
Peter A. Barrett
Head of School
December 14, 2020
Dear Members of the St. Patrick’s Community,
First, I want to thank Peter for his letter, indicating that he has decided to retire from St. Patrick’s at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. As current Chair of the Board of Trustees, I am one of 11 people to have worked closely with Peter in that role and have a front-row seat to his thoughtful leadership. Peter’s name has become synonymous with St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School across his 27 years of service. I look forward to many moments celebrating Peter’s distinguished tenure during the next year and a half, but please allow this letter to serve as a first step in that process.
Peter has been an exemplary steward of the Day School’s mission, unwavering in his belief that every child has infinite value. While Peter will leave an indelible mark on St. Patrick’s in countless ways, his commitment to promoting exceptional literacy as the basis for developing character, advancing human understanding, and promoting academic excellence remains a hallmark, nourishing a culture that puts the individual child squarely at the center of the teaching and learning process. Further, he has worked to create a diverse, inclusive, and joyful community, where children quickly realize that they are welcome, where they come to recognize that they are known, loved, and respected. These ideals have been embraced by the tremendously talented faculty and staff that Peter and his team have assembled, a group in which he takes great pride and that remains at the heart of the St. Patrick’s experience.
Peter will leave St. Patrick’s a much stronger and different institution than when he arrived in 1994. During that time, St. Patrick’s added the Grades 7 and 8 program to the existing Nursery to Grade 6 school and ultimately reconfigured that program as a Grades 6 to 8 Middle School on the new MacArthur Campus, named in his honor. He oversaw the renovation and expansion of the main Day School building on the Whitehaven Campus, adding the Elementary School Library and academic wing. Given the importance of play and physical activity at St. Patrick’s, it is perhaps no surprise that his accomplishments include building the Gymnasium & Performance Center on the Whitehaven Campus and the regulation-size turf field and stadium complex on the Foxhall Campus and completing the first phase of the Outdoor Spaces Master Plan with the redeveloped Primary Grades Playground and Kindergarten Playground and the ever-popular Sports Deck. These accomplishments and more are the result of his strong leadership and vision for a thriving school.
As we prepare to hire St. Patrick’s fourth Head of School, we have convened a Search Committee to be chaired by Trustee Rebecca Kim P ’24, an active leader in our community and a St. Patrick’s parishioner. Supporting the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees will be the highly regarded search firm of Spencer Stuart. In a subsequent letter, I will report more to you about the process, which we hope will enable us to announce an appointment in the fall of 2021 for a July 1, 2022 start.
As Peter said, we are fortunate to be conducting this search from a position of strength. As a result, I am confident in our ability to attract a dynamic and committed leader who will continue to uphold our Episcopal values and our mission of shaping young people of integrity, empathy, and purpose. As I contemplate the school that a new leader will see, I share Peter’s pride in what we have accomplished together. I commend our remarkable students and alumni who have brought such life and vitality to St. Patrick’s. I am in awe of our dedicated teachers who continue to reach their students and teach in new ways during a global pandemic. I feel pride in our beautiful facilities, so clearly designed with young people in mind, and I am grateful for the families who made them a reality. It is collective work that makes us strong, and a vibrant community is one of the many legacies of Peter’s time.
Finally, at least for now, I want to thank Peter for exemplifying character, resilience, and humility as we have faced the challenges of recent months. It has been my privilege to work alongside him. I look forward to working with our Board of Trustees, our faculty and staff, and the broader community to keep St. Patrick’s the best it can be until we pass the Light of St. Patrick’s on to our next leader. And now, as Peter said, let’s get back to work.
In faith and gratitude,
Chair, Board of Trustees, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School
December 21, 2020
Dear Members of the St. Patrick’s Community:
A week ago, our community learned of Head of School Peter Barrett’s planned retirement at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. While this announcement was a surprise to many, the Board of Trustees has been preparing for this moment for several years. In the new year, we will embark on a national search to find our next Head of School, relying on a thorough and deliberate process. Confident that St. Patrick's many strengths will attract high-quality candidates, we look forward to meeting them.
Below you will find a list of dedicated members of our Board of Trustees and faculty and staff who will comprise the Search Committee for the new Head of School. These individuals have demonstrated a strong commitment to the Day School and its mission and a deep understanding of the community and our values and goals. We are thrilled to have their participation in such an important endeavor for St. Patrick’s.
The Search Committee, for which we will seek formal Board approval at its January meeting, has already met in order to get a strong start on this critical work. Upon our return in January, our search consultants from Spencer Stuart will begin conducting crucial interviews and hosting Zoom meetings to gain an even better understanding of St. Patrick’s and hear from you, our community. Please stay tuned for more information on how you can add your voice to this process. In addition, we will send a community-wide survey in January, and we hope you will take part in that as well.
Have a wonderful holiday!
All the best,
Chair, Board of Trustees
Chair, Head of School Search Committee
Trustee and Search Committee Co-Chair, P ‘25
Trustee and Search Committee Co-Chair, Parishioner, P ‘24
Chair, Board of Trustees, Parishioner, P ‘25, ‘29
Day School Librarian
Rector, St. Patrick’s Parish
Middle School Humanities Teacher, W ‘03
Secretary, Board of Trustees, P ‘20, ‘29
Immediate Past Board Chair, P ‘17, ‘21, ‘23
Treasurer, Board of Trustees, Parishioner, P W ‘16, ‘21, ‘25
Trustee, P ‘21, ‘23
Assistant Head of School for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Nancy White Vice Chair,
Board of Trustees, Former Head of Nursery School, Parishioner