About » Head of School Search

Head of School Search

March 2, 2015

Dear Headwaters Community,

It is with great enthusiasm and optimism that we announce Ted Graf will become our Head of School on July 1, 2015.

Ted brings warmth, intelligence, and experience as our next Head of School. He understands Headwaters and deeply respects its cherished culture. Ted is a highly accomplished and respected leader, specializing in collaborative leadership and social and emotional well-being, from one of the nation’s most renowned schools and leadership teams.

Many of you were able to meet Ted when he was here in late January for his finalist interview with his wife, Amy, and youngest son, David, who will join Headwaters’s Middle School this fall.

Read a letter from Ted to our community at this link.

Ted_Graf_PhotoTed is a career-long independent school student, teacher, and leader, who holds degrees from the University of Vermont, Brown University, and the School for International Training. His deep involvement in every aspect of education includes work with the Coalition of Essential Schools and its progenitor, Ted Sizer. For the last seven years, Ted has been at the highly respected Latin School of Chicago, a nonprofit K-12 school with 1142 students total, where Ted is Upper School Director of nearly 500 students. Previously, Ted was Head of School for four years at The Gailer School in Middlebury, Vermont, and before that, Ted was Assistant Head of School for four years at Watkinson School in Hartford, Connecticut. For the first 15 years of Ted’s career, he was a teacher, a coach, an outdoor educator with Outward Bound, and a nonprofit board member. Ted’s full resume and statement of educational philosophy are in the documents at this link.

Ted has a clear mandate to bring leadership that moves this school forward. He is coming here to make big improvements—not in a rash, turnaround-specialist kind of way, but at a pace that is just right for our needs. Ted is charged with turning this very special, hugely promising school into the very best school of its kind, a national model serving Austin’s vibrant creative class and growing world-class community. Ted will be a long-term leader for Headwaters, beginning with a four-year agreement that commences this summer.

Welcoming Ted
In the last communication from the Search Committee, the concept of nemawashi was introduced. Now we must all roll up our sleeves and prepare the soil to successfully and deeply root Ted as our new Head of School. To lead and organize this effort—which will require engagement and volunteers from across our community—we have appointed a Ted Graf Welcome Task Force.

In the best tradition of Headwaters, our task force is designed to include voices from all parts of our community, including: Trustees Steve Ravel, Kat Jones, Jeff Albrecht, and Gary Pharr; Interim Head Steve Blanchard; Division Head Krista Phillips; Parent Jennie Burger; Communications Director Amy Nylund, Teacher Kelly Dickens, Director of Advancement Keelan Wackman, and Student Grace Jung.

This task force will prepare a plan for welcoming activities; determine, assign, and manage to completion onboarding tasks and schedules; ensure the comments and concerns collected throughout the search process are addressed; and create clear communications. The task force will be seeking help over the spring and summer and into the fall with welcoming activities. The task force will begin work immediately and can be contacted at TedWelcome@headwaters.org.

Gratitude As We Step Through
We would not be stepping through this threshold today without the tremendous efforts of so many who care so deeply about Headwaters School. Our hearts are full and the list is long, but we specifically want to thank:

  • Steve Blanchard, for his warm, positive, stabilizing, seasoned, and kind leadership this year as our Interim Head.
  • Our Division Heads Krista Phillips, Virginia Luff, Ryan Phillips, and Erin Mann for their knowledge, talents, and personal style in leading our vibrant programs and talented faculty in a manner that is true to our mission, vision, and values.
  • My fellow Search Committee members Kat Jones, Jeff Albrecht, Tracy Asamoah, and Camille Miller for their dedicated service, methodical process, and professional, well-rounded perspective of this important recommendation.
  • Our Parent, Staff, and Student Search Support Committees for thoughtfully and generously giving their time and insight to this process.
  • Our Faculty, for being the people who show up every day with dedication and talent, to make the experience of our school so profoundly excellent and beautiful.
  • Our Families, for believing so deeply in the school, for engaging so wholeheartedly, and for bringing your extraordinary children into this learning community.

It’s a big day for us. A joyful day for us. As we take this long-anticipated next step, please join the entire Board of Trustees in taking a moment to share a deep breath and a warm smile with whoever is closest to you at this moment of accomplishment. Our care and appreciation of each other is the nourishment of our soil and the way for our school to grow.


Steve Ravel
Chair, Board of Trustees