The Community School in Sun Valley last week selected Andrew Jones-Wilkins, a school administrator from Northern California, to be its new headmaster. He will replace longtime Headmaster Jon Maksik, who announced last year that he plans to retire at the end of the 2005-2006 school year.
"I am very excited. I think it's the opportunity of a lifetime for myself and for my family," Jones-Wilkins said.
An extensive search led by the New Jersey-based search firm Wickenden Associates, with assistance from faculty, parents and students, guided the search.
"The choice of the new head is very important to me," Maksik said. "I am delighted with the board's choice ... I believe Andrew is very capable of bringing the school into its new era."
Selected from 50 applicants, Jones-Wilkins will assume the position July 1, 2006.
He found a palpable connection during a recent visit to the school's Trail Creek campus.
"I am drawn to The Community School, because their education mission is remarkably concurrent with mine," he said. "The number one characteristic of an outstanding educational institution is one that cherishes and nurtures the student-teacher relationship."
Currently, Jones-Wilkins heads the middle school at Head-Royce School in Oakland, Calif. Prior to his Californian post, he was the eighth-grade dean and a history teacher at Phoenix Country Day School in Arizona and taught middle school history in Philadelphia.
He holds a bachelor's degree in American Studies from Hamilton College and a master's degree in Liberal Studies from Villanova University.
Jones-Wilkins said his experience as a middle school administrator uniquely positions him to run a kindergarten to 12th-grade school. He said he understands where students have come from and where they are going.
Presently, he teaches a section of English and hopes to continue a close connection to students.
"Assuming the need is there, I would love to teach an English or history class. I don't think an administrator should stray too far from the classroom," he said.
His philosophy extends to the school's outdoor-based education. As an ultra-marathon runner and avid cyclist, his athletic pursuits provide an appreciation for the value of outdoor education.