The Pingry School is seeking a creative and mission-driven leader to serve as its next upper school director. The expected start date is June/July 2023.

The Pingry School (Pingry) is a K-12 coeducational, independent day school recognized throughout the United States for its academic excellence, honor code, arts, athletics, and community and civic engagement. The School’s mission is to foster in students a lifelong commitment to scholarly exploration, personal growth, and social responsibility while preparing them to be global citizens and luminaries of the 21st century. At Pingry, students interact with diverse ideas through meaningful inquiry and respectful debate, never forgetting that they are members of a global community. The curriculum and school activities promote a deep commitment to inquiry, academic engagement, and problem-solving both inside and outside the classroom.

Dr. John F. Pingry founded the school in 1861 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and today there are three campuses: grades K-5 in Short Hills, grades 6-12 in Basking Ridge, and a shared campus for grades K-12 in Pottersville that focuses on experiential education. The diverse student body comprises more than 1,100 students from nearly 100 New Jersey and New York towns.

The Position

ROLE OF THE UPPER SCHOOL DIRECTOR FOR THE PINGRY SCHOOL

Reporting directly to the associate head of school, the upper school director (director) oversees the day-to-day operations of Pingry’s Upper School, grades 9-12, and serves as its educational leader for approximately 570 students and over 100 faculty members. The director will be the steward of implementing the School’s mission, vision, and strategic plan, as well as manage, lead, and collaborate with the Upper School leadership team and a body of dedicated faculty members to uphold Pingry’s pillars of excellence. With high emotional intelligence, they will be a model of collegiality, diplomacy, and empathy for faculty and students alike. The director will marshal and champion diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) for the Upper School, ensuring that both students, faculty, and staff feel connected, supported, and included.

Pingry’s next upper school director will lead, manage, and partner with a team of department heads to innovate and develop the Upper School curriculum and support the growth and development of faculty members through professional development and evaluation. They will manage the day-to-day operations, functions, and student life of the Upper School and its constituents by leading a team of divisional administrators, including the academic and student life deans, and facilitating critical conversations in the design of a more inclusive Upper School curriculum. Further, the director will model and cultivate positive relationships between faculty members, divisions, students, and families and encourage and support a culture of growth mindset and lifelong learning within the Upper School.

QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS

This position is an excellent opportunity for candidates with a record of fostering a culture of both academic rigor and a commitment to student well-being, including social and emotional health, and an understanding of a wide range of learner needs. They must also possess a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) and the requisite skills to work cross-functionally with diverse constituency groups across the Pingry community.
Minimum qualifications for the position are a master’s degree and five years of progressive academic leadership experience. Required knowledge, skills, and abilities include the following:

  • Commitment to the mission, vision, and pillars of the Pingry School.
  • Ability to lead, support, and inspire faculty, balancing a culture of creativity and collaboration with consistent feedback, structure and support.
  • Nuanced understanding of best practices in curriculum design, instructional excellence and promotion of student learning.
  • A collaborative and relational style built on active solicitation of input, excellent listening skills, and a commitment to building consensus.

The search committee invites applications from candidates with a strong attraction to an increasingly diverse and innovative school environment, as well as a genuine interest in being a visible presence throughout the School and exhibiting educational leadership and partnership.

Institution & Location

SCHOOL OVERVIEW

Background/history

In 1861, The Reverend John Francis Pingry, a Presbyterian minister and educator, founded The Pingry School in Elizabeth, New Jersey to provide educational training and “moral” education for boys. Pingry’s legacy continues today through his motto, Maxima reverentia pueris debetur (paraphrased “The greatest respect is due students.”). In 1926, Pingry’s students further elevated the commitment to integrity by establishing an official Honor System, which became the foundation for the school’s revered Honor Code—still very much a defining component of Pingry to this day.

The school remained at its Elizabeth campus until 1953 when it moved to Hillside. The school saw two significant developments in the 20 years that followed: the transition to a coeducational school and a merger with the Short Hills Country Day School. In 1983, Pingry’s Upper and Middle Schools relocated again—from Hillside to the new campus in Basking Ridge. The move was made possible by honorary trustee William Beinecke, who purchased and later donated the land for the new campus.

School Leadership

Tim Lear, Head of School

Following a comprehensive, seven-month search process, Pingry’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to appoint Tim Lear as Pingry’s 17th Head of School, effective July 1, 2022. He previously served as Pingry’s Assistant Head of School for Guidance and Student Life. As a proud member of the Class of 1992, Lear is just the fourth graduate in Pingry history to ascend to Head of School.

A long-time New Jersey resident, Lear graduated from Pingry in 1992 and then received both an AB in English from Princeton University and an MA in English from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. After ten years at Oak Knoll School as an English teacher, academic advisor, and ultimately the Director of College Counseling, he returned to Pingry in 2007. For nearly 15 years, Lear led Pingry’s college counseling department, taught English, served as an academic advisor, coached varsity cross country, assumed leadership of Student Support Services, and in July 2021, was named Assistant Head of School for Guidance and Student Life.

Learn more about Tim Lear here.

The Pingry School Mission Statement

Pingry at a Glance

Total students: 1,177
Students of color: 53 percent
Total faculty: 200
Faculty of color: 25 percent
Faculty with advanced degrees: 73 percent
Student/teacher ratio: 6:1
Students receiving financial aid and tuition remission: 18 percent
Endowment: $120 million

The Pingry School Honor Code

Pingry believes that students should understand and live by standards of honorable behavior, which are essentially a matter of attitude and spirit rather than a system of rules and regulations. Decent, self-respecting behavior must be based on personal integrity and genuine concern for others and on the ethical principles which are the basis of civilized society.

The members of the Pingry community should conduct themselves in a trustworthy manner that will further the best interests of the school, their class, and any teams or clubs to which they belong. They should act as responsible members of the community, working for the common good rather than solely for personal advantage. They should honor the rights of others, conducting themselves at all times in a moral and decent manner while at Pingry and throughout their lives as citizens of and contributors to the larger community of the world.

Strategic Planning

Over the last decade, with the successful completion of the Sesquicentennial Plan, formulated in 2007 and updated in 2011, followed by the Blueprint for the Future capital campaign, Pingry has been steadily and thoughtfully charting its future. With its 2018 Strategic Plan launch, the school has sought to advance its vision further.

To learn about The Pingry School’s strategic plan, please visit here.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Statement

The Pingry School is committed to sustaining a welcoming and supportive environment for children and families in its community and those interested in joining the Pingry family. The Pingry community values and celebrates a broad definition of diversity that includes ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Recognizing that the only constant in the world of tomorrow will be change, effective leadership will demand intellectual flexibility and agility, creativity, teamwork, comfort with complexity and ambiguity, experience with diversity, and, above all, character and honor. As the school prepares its students to claim their place as leaders in the 21st century, their intellectual engagement must occur in a multicultural environment. Daily experiences with differing perspectives of the larger society, while leaning firmly into that which can be a source of discomfort, will prepare Pingry graduates to thrive as culturally competent individuals in a multicultural world.

To learn more about Pingry’s DEIB 2022 strategic Plan, please see here.

Academics

The Pingry School motto— “greatest respect is due students”—guides its student-centered pedagogy with a curriculum that nurtures intellectual curiosity and critical thinking at every level. At Pingry, students explore a diversity of ideas through meaningful inquiry and respectful debate, all within the context of a global perspective and mindset. The curriculum and programming promote a deep commitment to exploration, inquiry, and problem-solving both inside and outside the classroom.

Lower School (Kindergarten-Grade 5) – Short Hills Campus

The Lower School, situated on 28 acres housing approximately 290 students, offers traditional coursework in language arts, mathematics, science, Spanish, and social studies, supplemented by activities—both inside and outside the classroom—that emphasize experiential learning. Art, music, and drama classes provide students with creativity and self-expression outlets. Technology and library classes impart foundations in research and literary skills. Newly modernized STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) classrooms offer students valuable opportunities for interdisciplinary study, furthering creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Daily physical education classes and plenty of outdoor time on recently redesigned outdoor spaces, including renovated athletic fields, give students the chance to play, interact, and learn valuable lessons in teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership.

Middle School (Grades 6-8) – Basking Ridge Campus

The Middle School curriculum supports around 270 students with the liberal arts background that Pingry believes to be an integral part of each student’s educational foundation. While exploring greater independence, students take courses in English, history, science, math, and world languages, including Spanish, French, German, Latin, and Mandarin Chinese. Recognizing that students are at different stages in their academic development, math and world language classes are grouped by student ability. Students also participate in drama, art, performance music, electives, and a four-day activity block that exposes students to various ways to be physically active and part of a team experience. Throughout their Middle School experience, students are supported by an advisor and an advisory group. Conference Period, integral to Pingry life, is how advisors guide the maturation of strong study habits and time management skills.

Upper School (Grades 9-12) – Basking Ridge Campus

The Upper School provides an engaging and comprehensive academic program that prepares about 570 students to perform at the highest level in college and serve honorably as civic leaders and global citizens. Students are encouraged to think and perform independently and solve problems in innovative ways through group discussion, one-on-one conferences with faculty, and individual work. The college preparatory curriculum draws on both a diverse array of unique course selections and more traditional pedagogy, with Honors, Advanced Placement, and Advanced Topics options. Students develop an informed, nuanced picture of the world; practice their powers of higher-order thinking and analysis; refine their written and oral communication skills; and exercise and expand their creative imagination. At the end of their Pingry career, each student has the opportunity to pursue a real-world learning experience through an Independent Senior Project, the capstone of their high school education.

Pingry has five dedicated college counselors, and each family is assigned to one of them. The counselors are available for unlimited individual meetings with students and parents. College counselors draw upon their close relationships with colleges and universities to advise Pingry students. Students matriculate to the top colleges and universities across the nation and abroad.

Benefits Overview

  • Medical and prescription drug insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Vision plan
  • Retirement plan and school matching program
  • Group life insurance with AD&D coverage
  • Supplemental employee-paid life insurance
  • Short-term and long-term disability
  • Medical/dependent care flexible spending accounts
  • Health savings accounts
  • Financial support for advanced degrees and other approved classes or workshops
  • Tuition remission for children of employees and summer camp discount
  • Wellness program and free use of school’s state-of-the-art athletics center
  • Fitness, yoga, and mindfulness classes
  • Free lunch on campus

For more information see here.

Application & Nomination

Pingry has retained the services of Spelman Johnson, a leading national executive search firm, to assist with leading this search. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter.

Nominations for this position or details about the status of the search may be forwarded to Michel R. Frendian, Senior Consultant, at mrf@spelmanjohnson.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

COVID Vaccination Requirement

Employment, or continuation thereof, at The Pingry School is contingent upon being fully COVID-19 vaccinated (unless a medical/religious exemption is received); proof of a COVID-19 vaccination is required before the start of employment.

Visit The Pingry School website at www.pingry.org.

The Pingry School aspires to be an anti-racist community and is committed to the principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Pingry is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. The Pingry School’s employment policy is that individuals will receive equal opportunity in all matters pertaining to recruitment, employment, salary, promotion, and assignment, regardless of race, religion, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy status, genetic information, marital status, amnesty or status as a covered veteran, or other basis proscribed by federal, state, and local law. All employment is decided based on qualifications, merit, and business need.