In developing this guiding document, SAIS consulted with heads and other key school leaders who have recently experienced a leadership transition. They were asked to review existing items and contribute additional items from their transition experience. This will be an evolving checklist for schools planning or working through a head’s transition.



  • Remain responsible for the day-to-day operations of the school until the new head’s official start date.
  • Help manage expectations from the board, faculty, and school community.
  • Share any recent challenges or difficult decisions within the school community.
  • Avoid conversations with colleagues, staff, or parents about anything but support for the new head.
  • Consider your personal patterns and practices that might have implications for the new head.
  • Create a new, non-school email.

Building Relationships

  • If there will be an overlap in leadership, discuss specifics on how the shared situation will work.
  • Plan to address any sensitive conversations in person when the new head is on campus.
  • Identify opportunities to help the new head expand their network.
  • Be mindful of the new head’s ongoing responsibilities at their current school and respectful of their time.
  • If desired, offer to be a resource to the board or new head after departure.
  • Encourage the school community to embrace the possibilities and perspective a new head will bring.


  • Prepare faculty and staff for a transition in leadership.
  • Examine the current senior leadership team.
  • Make final administrative hires or assignments that can contribute to the continued success of the leadership team, consult with incoming head when appropriate.
  • Confirm leadership stability with retention incentives as necessary.
  • Identify weaknesses or needs in the current faculty.
  • Identify faculty members who are ready to assume leadership roles.
  • Develop plans for faculty development to guarantee continuity in teaching and school goals.
  • Address any personnel concerns, including necessary staff terminations.

Program and Operations

  • Compile department updates on enrollment, advancement, athletics, auxiliary, operations, facilities, business, and academic support.
  • Share scheduled and recently completed curricular and program review cycles.
  • Share most recent accreditation report, identifying goals in progress, improvement plans, and persons responsible.
  • Address outstanding tuition payments.
  • Describe the school’s current financial health. Refer to SAIS Financial Wellness Indicators.