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.


  • Create a short video with incoming head of school where they can introduce themselves and share a message directly with the community. Include family information, professional background, educational philosophy, and what drew the head to the school.
  • Schedule a meeting with representatives from the Parents Association.
  • Encourage incoming head to join local independent school association or heads group, include group meetings in the monthly calendar.
  • Identify other independent school heads to expand network.
  • Create a list of community members for the new head to meet with initially. Note their relationship to the school and any previous or ongoing communication. These might include fire and police chiefs, mayor, business leaders, chamber of commerce, religious leaders, and neighborhood association representatives.
  • Identify non-profit boards and other places the outgoing head is active.
  • If the head is new to the area, provide the family with information to help them adjust to their new community. This might include local recommendations for dining and other services and connections that might help the head’s partner in a job search.
  • Identify major employers in the local area especially those that have ties to the school as parents or donors.
  • Identify local initiatives that could impact the school like expansion of an interstate, closing of large local employer, plans to bring a new industry to town, etc.
  • Identify existing partnerships with other public or independent schools and colleges.