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Cape Fear Academy Launches Head Of School Search

By Jenny Callison, posted Apr 15, 2019
Cape Fear Academy is beginning preparations for its next transition.

Current Head of School Donald Berger has announced he will step down at the end of private school's 2019-20 academic year, and a search committee has been formed to identify his successor. Berger came to Cape Fear Academy in July 2012.

The school has retained Wickenden Associates of Princeton, New Jersey, to assist the search committee, according to committee chair Sandra Williams.

“Wickenden Associates is one of four of the most prominent executive search firms that specialize in head of school searches,” she said last week.

By the end of April, Williams said, the committee will have developed what she termed an opportunity statement for potential candidates. That document will describe the school and what the opportunities might be for a new head. It will also include data about the K-12 school, which has a student population of about 640.

One of the indicators of which the school is proud is its student retention rate, which is over 90%, according to Jennifer Sullivan, director of advancement for Cape Fear Academy. She said that’s higher than the national average for private schools.

The committee has sent a tentative deadline of July 31 to receive applications. It will then review those applications, interview candidates of most interest and identify the “best fit,” Williams said, adding, “Ideally, before Thanksgiving, we will make an offer and have an accepted contract. We are in a great position. Don Berger has put us in a good place, and we are following NAIS [National Association of Independent Schools] best practices.”

Aiding the search effort is a five-year strategic plan completed two-and-a-half years ago, Williams said, adding, “That has helped us visualize where we want to be down the road. It has galvanized the school community. We want to have the most exceptional academic experience we can for our students.”

The school’s reputation for academic rigor and breadth of student experiences has benefitted the Wilmington business community, according to Sullivan.

“The existence of Cape Fear Academy helps the corporate community attract some of the people they want, who are interested in a private school education for their children,” she said. “We have parents who have said this to us.”
 
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