At the end of this academic year, in June of 2017, our Head of School, Terry Passalacqua, will retire. We have selected a new Head of School with the same core values – a lifelong love of learning, empathic respect for each individual student, and passion for education – that Terry has embodied for the twenty-one years he has served our school. Below is a letter from our Board President announcing our selection.
Dear Members of the Desert Academy Community,
The Board of Trustees of Desert Academy is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Yann Lussiez as the next Head of School. Dr. Yann has served for the past six months as our Assistant Head of School and has earned the respect and trust of the many students and families with whom he has interacted. An experienced IB educator, Yann has led an IB Primary Years Program School in Istanbul, served as the Principal of Eldorado Community School, and worked with the State of New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee. He will assume his Head of School duties on July 1, 2017.
That date will also mark the end of an era. Under Terry Passalacqua’s guidance, the school has seen immense strides in stature, size, and quality. We send our deepest thanks and appreciation to Terry for creating the school that exists today. I salute both Terry and Yann for their unstinting dedication to the field of education.
With more than 45 applicants for this position, including many international candidates, our search committee was in the enviable position of choosing from among a very strong pool. After narrowing the field to six semi-finalists and ultimately, to three finalists, we spent a day and half with each of those three, during which time they met with faculty, staff, parents, students and Trustees. Dr. Yann stood out as the best fit for Desert Academy. We are confident that he will adroitly lead our continuous quest to make Desert the pre-eminent academic institution in Santa Fe. We welcome both his talents and his energy.
Finally, on behalf of my fellow Trustees, many thanks to all of you who participated in last week’s candidate activities at the school. Your comments and responses strongly corroborated the opinions of the Board’s search committee, and your deep commitment to Desert Academy was clearly evident in the time and care you took in providing your thoughtful feedback to us.
President, Desert Academy Board of Trustees
Dear Families and Friends,
This year marks my thirtieth year of education in Santa Fe and my twenty-first year at Desert Academy. As many of you know, I have planned to retire at the end of this year. My time at Desert Academy has been more than a job, more than a profession; it has been a joyful and fulfilling love.
During the past twenty years, much has changed at Desert Academy. We have adopted the gold standard of education, the International Baccalaureate; our enrollment has grown by 300%; we have moved to our current campus- a place in which, we as a community, will grow and thrive. Each year has brought more change; hiring of talented faculty, adoption of vibrant and sustainable programs, and more. Yet, the school’s mission, purpose and core values have remained constant: to value the individual and to provide an environment in which every child can flourish and can realize his or her inherent, untapped talents.
We, as educators and teachers, understand that working with young people is a sacred charge, a calling; and for over twenty years, I have had the privilege of being in service to that end. I was fortunate to have worked with and continue to work with engaged, committed and passionate people, whose ultimate intention is the flowering of each child’s potential.
To encapsulate what the last twenty years has meant to me is a task far too great to express in words. Let me just say that I would not trade the last twenty years for any other scenario. It has been a wonderful and rewarding journey. I look forward to spending the rest of this year working with our community of staff, faculty, administration, Board, parents and children. It has been a labor of love for me, and I know that our next Head of School will assume this leadership role with love, as well.
Head of School
Dear Desert Academy Community,
At the end of this school year, Desert Academy will bid farewell to one of our greatest assets. Terry Passalacqua, our Head of School, is retiring after two decades of dedication to Desert. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank Terry for all he has done and for being the instrumental force behind the move to our new campus and the adoption and implementation of the outstanding International Baccalaureate program the school offers today.
Terry’s retirement in 2017 has been planned for several years, and this academic year will see an extensive search process to find his replacement. The process will begin with recruitment ads being placed—with national and international reach—by late October.
Candidates are asked to apply by January 15, 2017 for an anticipated start date of July 1, 2017. The search committee is currently comprised of four Board members, a highly experienced executive close to the school, and Terry, in an advisory role. We will be adding members by the time applications start to arrive. This committee will review applications, interview and vet top candidates, and then make recommendations to the Board to invite select candidates for on site interviews and interactions with representatives of Desert stakeholders: teachers, parents, staff, students and board members. After input is evaluated, the search committee will vote to recommend a candidate to the Board for final approval, with an anticipated announcement to be made in March 2017.
Our goal is to make this process as comprehensive, transparent and collaborative as possible. We will be posting frequent updates on the process here on our website. On behalf of the whole Board, I extend our heartfelt thanks to Terry and wish him well in retirement.
Chairman of the Board of Directors