June 22, 2023
One of the main responsibilities of the Board of Directors is to appoint the Head of School. As we move toward the amalgamation of Diamond School and Fraser Valley School, as announced in early 2022, the Board has undertaken a process to identify and appoint the Head of School for the combined school to begin in the 2024-2025 school year.
The process of leadership selection started with a governance review. As deciding on the leadership is one of the most important decisions that the Board needs to make, we wanted to ensure that the process was informed by best practices and procedural fairness. This review provided recommendations around soliciting feedback from the community, utilizing the Executive Committee of the Board and retaining an executive search firm. The Executive Committee reviewed several search firms and made the decision to retain Khaleeda Jamal of Boyden Executive Search as an independent consultant to provide strategic support and external market advice to the Board throughout the process. The Board felt it is important to engage independent assistance to ensure that the process maintained fairness, transparency and integrity. The Board also wanted to ensure that the process was thorough and rigorous enough to secure the best possible future leader.
Consistent with advisor recommendations, the Board undertook surveys of expectations from across the school community. This included faculty, students and parents from both school communities. The results of the surveys indicated alignment of students, parents, and staff of both schools. The top leadership qualities important to our community are effective communicator, relationship and team builder, accessible, organized and being an active listener. And the most important attributes are caring, dependable, supportive, collaborative, and passionate. This data and feedback was woven into the decision making process.
Our search consultant then used the survey data and results to create a candidate profile and position description. The profile ensured that prospective candidates understood the school community and the experience, skills, values, attributes necessary to be considered for the position. The consultant also provided an organizational psychologist used in previous executive searches to complete a comprehensive leadership assessment including critical thinking, interpersonal style, leadership style and overall risk assessment.
The Executive Committee utilized this material to assess external candidates and to compare their experiences, skills and attributes. These external candidates were compared against the sole internal candidate from both school communities that put their application forward. The recommendation of the Board was approved last night and therefore we are proud to announce that the internal candidate Laurel Middelaer was unanimously approved to take on responsibility for the combined school. Given the significant operational decisions required to ensure a successful amalgamation, her appointment begins immediately. Please be mindful that for the 2023-24 school year, Gayle Volanska will remain as principal of Diamond School and there will be no significant operational changes, however Gayle and Laurel will work closely together for the planning of the amalgamation year.
For those that are not familiar with Laurel’s background, she is uniquely qualified to take on this role. She brings with her 34 years of educational experience spanning three provinces in both independent and public schools. Her evaluation highlighted her effectiveness as a communicator where she comes across as influential, authentic and charismatic. She is more detail oriented than most executives and is consistently organized and methodical. She ranks incredibly high in collaboration and thrives on incorporating other’s views to negotiate meaningful agreement. She loves leadership and thrives on building teams, empowering leaders and helping support their growth.
“I count it an honour to serve as Head of School for this combined community. I already sense a strong alignment between the two parent groups, and I am eager to get to know the current Diamond students, as soon, we become one school. I am pleased that my attributes and strengths closely matched the candidate profile; I am ready to pivot in my role in leadership to strategically oversee and lead all three campuses, and to collaboratively map a plan for our program and facilities for the years ahead.”
Laurel is excited by the challenge of bringing together our combined school community. Over the next 15 months, she will be working closely with the leadership teams across both schools to merge and develop the school programs, faculty, community. She will also develop the leadership structure across the school and be looking for opportunities to appoint pedagogical leaders for the main programs as well as campus leads. Over the past 18 months, she has enjoyed getting to know the Diamond School leadership better. She has been incredibly impressed with their alignment, skills and commitment and is looking forward to exploring the leadership opportunities that might fit within our amalgamated school.
After undertaking a rigorous and transparent evaluation process, the Board is excited to be able to find such a uniquely qualified candidate within our ranks.
Please view the video for more information from our Board Chair and Head of School