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Education

Cape Fear Academy Selects New Head Of School

By Cece Nunn, posted Oct 7, 2019
Ed Ellison

Cape Fear Academy, a private school at 3900 S. College Road in Wilmington, has chosen its new head of school, according to a recent announcement.

Ed Ellison, who most recently worked as head of St. Johns Country Day School in Orange Park, Florida, will begin his CFA leadership July 1, stated David Sprunt, chairman of the school’s board of trustees, in a message from the board posted on the school’s website.

A graduate of Tufts University and Harvard Business School, Ellison brings 17 years of independent school experience as a teacher, coach and administrator, the announcement stated.  

He replaces Donald Berger, CFA’s head of school for seven years, who announced he would be stepping down earlier this year.

“Don has served CFA with distinction, ensuring our students have excelled in classrooms, laboratories, on stages, and in athletics. CFA graduates are prepared for college and life,” Sprunt wrote in the message. “I am grateful for Don’s professional approach, innovative ideas, and commitment to excellence and look forward to honoring him before his tenure ends in June."

Of Ellison, Sprunt said, “He brings a fresh perspective on ways CFA can support our faculty with training and professional development to enhance an already robust curriculum. His mission-driven, values-based leadership style will help CFA continue to grow enrollment and improve student retention.”

According to his biography provided by the firm the school retained to help in the search, Ellison helped reverse a decline in enrollment and increase student retention from 85% to 95% in the first two years as head of St. Johns.

"Under Ed’s leadership, the school raised record funds and generated budget surpluses, admitted its first cohort of international students, instituted a 1:1 iPad program, and developed a five-year strategic plan focused on student outcomes and long-term financial sustainability," according to the biography.

The announcement stated that Ellison and his wife of 35 years, Kathy, are empty nesters who will be moving to Wilmington next summer. 

Ed Ellison was chosen through a search that included retaining Wickenden Associates of Princeton, New Jersey, to aid the school's search committee.

"The selection of Ed as our next Head of School is the culmination of a comprehensive search process lead by Sandra Williams '82," Sprunt said in the board's message. "Sandra’s diligent, tireless, and steadfast leadership helped the Search Committee navigate through many resumes, philosophy statements, references, semi-finalist interviews, campus visits, behavioral assessments, and community surveys with grace.

"The process included valuable input from our community through meetings with Wickenden Associates last spring to create the Opportunity Statement and again this fall with surveys completed after the finalist visits," Sprunt said in the announcement.

Kathy Ellison is also a graduate of Tufts, as well as Columbia Business School. She is the marketing communications specialist at MelroseWakefield Healthcare in Boston, according to the announcement.

"The Ellisons have two children, twins Matt and Emily," the announcement stated. "Matt, a graduate of Georgetown University, is a cyber research associate at the Hoover Institution in California. Emily, a graduate of Stetson University, is the Director of Marketing for Setfive Consulting and head coach of the Matignon High School varsity swim team in Boston."

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