Announcement of Montcrest's Next Head of School
November 26, 2018
Dear Montcrest Community,
I am delighted to be writing to introduce you to Montcrest’s next Head of School, Erin Corbett. Erin will be joining us in July 2019, upon David Thompson’s retirement, after she completes her seventh year as Head of School at River Valley School, a progressive pre-kindergarten to Grade 6 school in Calgary, Alberta.
Erin has had many remarkable achievements at River Valley: tripling the school’s enrolment, reversing a significant operational deficit, building the school’s financial reserves, and leading the school’s first accreditation with CAIS (Canadian Accredited Independent Schools). She led the introduction of many new curriculum initiatives focused on personalized and unique learning experiences for their 300+ students. She has accomplished all of this while cultivating a warm, caring, and safe school community where social and character development are just as important as academic development.
Highly regarded in the independent school community in Alberta and across the country, Erin has had a unique set of professional and educational experiences which make her a wonderful fit for Montcrest. For the last three years she has been a Director and Treasurer on the Alberta Independent Schools & Colleges Board, and has chaired two CAIS school accreditations and participated on a third. She is also recognized as a leader in her community, receiving Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40 award in 2015. Before her career in education, she worked as a professional opera singer, and as a fundraising and development professional for charitable arts and health organizations. Erin’s experience as an elementary teacher includes a focus on inquiry-based learning and technology in the classroom. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Music from the Royal Academy of Music in London, England, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Calgary, and a Masters in Arts, Educational Leadership and Management from Royal Roads University.
Erin has proven herself to be a dynamic and successful visionary leader who is warm, personable, and an excellent communicator, as illustrated in this excerpt from one of Erin’s references at River Valley: “Erin is the type of person who can see the big picture; she understands how multiple, very complex systems fit together, and she can keep track of these as she moves an agenda forward. She’s a visionary...we are on the leading edge of education and are headed where our school should be headed. She’s engaged as a community-based leader. She is able to motivate people and to propel us forward.”
David Thompson has already spent some time with Erin, and offers this perspective on her appointment, “Erin is a strong fit for the Montcrest community. She has positive energy and is clearly a big picture thinker with considerable experience at River Valley and around CAIS. She has also demonstrated her understanding that people are the most important part of any picture. I think our community will be delighted to get to know her and have her lead our school forward for many years.”
Erin has recorded a personal greeting for the Montcrest community below. We are working with her on plans to visit Montcrest in the coming weeks and months where faculty and staff, students, and parents will have the opportunity to meet her, and she can begin to get to know the school community, spend time with David, and prepare for her relocation with her husband Todd Corbett next summer.
Erin’s appointment follows a rigorous recruitment process which began with consultations last spring with students, faculty and staff, parents, alumni, donors and extensive Board discussions about our needs as a school over the next five to ten years. Our new Strategic Plan was foundational in our discussions. The Board appointed Colleen Keenan of Odgers Berndtson as our Executive Search consultant to guide this process, and created a Transition Committee led by Cynthia Eldridge, Board Vice-Chair, who is also a Montcrest parent and graduate. The committee was very impressed with the high calibre of applicants from some of the best schools in the country. The Board wishes to thank Colleen, the Transition Committee, and all members of our community who took the time to share their input into this process.
Over the coming months, we look forward to celebrating and honouring David’s contributions to Montcrest and his 45 years as an educator and independent school leader. In the meantime, I know you will all join me in welcoming Erin to the Montcrest community.
Chair, Board of Governors
All communications and updates regarding the transition process are shared on this page.
April 24, 2018 - Announcement from Don Durno
April 24, 2018 - Letter from David Thompson
May 8, 2018 - Head of School Transition Survey
Fall 2018 Update - We have been very pleased with the interest in this position. Both the number and quality of applicants is high, and the search committee is now in the process of interviewing candidates. We look forward to updating the community later this fall. We expect to be able to make an announcement before the holidays in December. If you have any questions, please contact our Committee Chair, Cynthia Eldridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 26, 2018 - Announcement of Next Head of School from Don Durno
November 27, 2018 - Video shared by Erin Corbett with Montcrest Students
The Board has appointed Colleen Keenan of Odgers Berndtson to advise and support us with the search for the new Head. Odgers Berndtson is one of Canada’s largest search firms, and part of a global firm that spans 26 countries. Colleen brings 18 years of experience working with over 35 schools across Canada, Bermuda, and the northeastern United States. Some of her recently completed assignments include the Head of School positions at Saltus School (Bermuda); Ashbury College; and Lakefield College School. She also worked with Montcrest on the search that led to David Thompson’s appointment.
In May, our consultants met with many members of the Montcrest community including faculty, staff, parents, Board members, and students. We also conducted a survey where everyone in the Montcrest community was invited to submit their input into the search considerations for our next Head of School. Over 80 people responded to the survey. We appreciate all the efforts made by so many to participate in this process. Out of this process, a Candidate Brief was developed to provide the roadmap for the search.
Cynthia Eldridge, Committee Chair
Cynthia serves on Montcrest's Board of Governors as Vice-Chair, and is a consultant in international healthcare and development. She was previously Associate Director of Marie Stopes International's Health Markets team based in Nairobi, Kenya. Cynthia has two sons at Montcrest, in Junior Kindergarten and Grade 2. She is also a Montcrest alumna herself, and her mother, Betsy, has served on Montcrest’s Board as well.
Don Durno, Chair, Board of Governors
Don has one daughter attending Montcrest and has been a member of the board since 2015. He has been Chair of the Board since 2017. Don has been in global management consulting for over 20 years in Europe, Asia and North America. He is currently the Business Development Leader for Ernst & Young's Financial Services business. Don has a passion for volunteerism, philanthropy and athletics.
Molly serves on Montcrest's Board of Governors and has two children who both started in JK at Montcrest. Her daughter is currently in grade 7 at the school. Molly is very excited to be joining the board this year after greatly enjoying her work last year on the Nominating and Governance committee. Professionally, Molly is a clinical social worker (MSW, RSW Psychotherapist) in private practice. Her area of expertise is eating disorders. Much of Molly’s work revolves around family support.
Rod serves on Montcrest's Board of Governors and is a lawyer and partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP where his practice involves a variety of commercial real estate matters. Rod has two children attending Montcrest in Grades 2 & 6. He previously served on the Real Property Section Executive of the Ontario Bar Association, including a term as Chair.
Ian taught in France and England before coming to a teaching position at the UCC Prep School in 1976. After 19 years at UCC, Ian was appointed Principal of The Sterling Hall School in 1995 and retired from this post in 2012. During his time at SHS, Ian was a member of the CAIS and IBSC Boards. After his retirement, he joined Montcrest's Board of Governors from which he resigned in 2014 in order to return to UCC for a one-year posting as Head of the Middle Division. Ian was pleased to return to our Board of Governors in the 2015-2016 academic year.
Michèle Andrews, Faculty & Staff Representative
Michèle is currently the Director of Organizational Development & People Practices at Montcrest, and a member of the school's Senior Administration Team. Prior to joining Montcrest, Michèle spent 10 years as Head at a Pre-K - Grade 12 independent school north of Toronto. She also has a background in organizational development and human resources. Michèle is the faculty and staff liaison to the committee.