Head of School Search Announcement -
September 19, 2018
Dear TJ Parents, Students, Faculty, Staff, and Friends,
It is with great pleasure that I announce on behalf of the Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School Board of Trustees and the TJ Head of School Search Committee, the appointment of Laura McDonald as our new Head of School. The Board's unanimous decision followed an overwhelmingly positive unanimous recommendation by the TJ Search Committee. Laura's complete commitment and demonstrated philosophical alignment with TJ's Mission and liberal arts curriculum make her the clear choice to lead TJ into the future. Her strength of character, wealth of independent school teaching, and leadership experience, in addition to her deep and genuine passion for TJ and its students will ensure the school continues to grow and its students succeed.
Laura served as TJ’s Head of School from 2009-2015 and as Assistant Head from 2007-2009. She successfully led the school through many of its defining milestones including the dramatic expansion of TJ’s physical plant to include the Humphreys Arts and Student Life Complex, significant growth in enrollment, improvement of the Lower School academic program, and several Strategic Planning and ISACS accreditation cycles. In her 21 years at TJ, she has served as teacher, coach, College Counselor, Dean of Girls, and in several other leadership capacities. She earned her B.A. degree at Kenyon College, and her M.S. degree at Southwest Missouri State University. Prior to college, she graduated from one of the most highly-selective (and largest) independent schools in the country – Northfield Mount Hermon School. No one in TJ’s history has had more experience with – and knowledge of – the entire TJ program and community than Laura.
TJ has educated all of Laura’s children, including her three stepdaughters who all began their TJ careers the day the school opened its doors in 1993, and her son who just graduated as a member of the class of 2018. She is married to Dr. Mike McDonald, one of the founding Trustees of the school.
Laura’s appointment is the successful culmination of an exhaustive and comprehensive national search led by TJ’s Search Committee and including TJ’s Advisory Committee with representatives of all TJ’s constituencies. in collaboration with national search consulting firms RG175 and Educators’ Collaborative. The Search Committee screened a diverse pool of approximately thirty candidates and carefully considered several semi-finalists and finalists. We would like to thank all of those in the TJ community who supported the search, particularly those who volunteered to serve on the Advisory Committee (trustees, faculty, and parents). Your input and feedback provided valuable additional context for the search and helped inform our decision. We are also deeply grateful to the members of the Search Committee for their tremendous commitment of time and hard work which enabled us to so satisfactorily conclude this process.
We are excited to have Laura lead TJ as we build on our 25 years of tradition and unwavering dedication to academic excellence. She is a consummate and caring educator, an enduring pillar of our community, and has played an integral role in shaping what TJ is today. We look forward to the next chapter in TJ’s future with the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in Laura’s leadership.
Chair, TJ's Board of Trustees
John Paul Sweeny,
Chair, TJ Head of School Search Committee