Rio Grande School

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Head of School Search

Head of School Search (COMPLETE) 


Nigel Taplin has announced his decision to retire as Head of School at Rio Grande School (RGS), effective June 30, 2019. In his nearly five years at RGS, Nigel has brought to RGS stability, consistency, professionalism and accountability. He has had as his constant guide the fulfillment of the school’s mission and a sincere concern for what is in the best interest of the children at RGS. There is no doubt that Nigel has left an indelible mark on this school, and RGS is all the better for it.


The Board of Trustees, led by Board Chair Ocean Munds-Dry, is committed to attracting the strongest possible pool of candidates to the search for Nigel’s successor search, and in order to do help us do so, we have selected the highly respected independent school search firm Educator’s Collaborative (EC) to manage the search. EC’s Marcus Hurlbut and Joan Beauregard, both of whom are experienced former heads of school who bring a wealth of expertise in working with schools like RGS, will be the consultants to the search. (If you’d like to know more about EC and our consultants, please see the firm’s website at Managing the search at RGS and working with the consultants will be the Head of School Search Committee, led by Chair/RGS trustee Bob Kirkpatrick and Vice-Chair/RGS trustee Ned Walpin.


Head of School Search Committee


  • Bob Kirkpatrick - Chair, RGS trustee (
  • Ned Walpin - Vice-Chair – RGS trustee, past parent (
  • Audrey Abeyta – RGS trustee, parent
  • Daisy Dominguez – RGS Pequenos Lead Educator
  • Dave Ritzmann – RGS Director of Technology
  • Wilson Scanlan – RGS trustee, parent
  • Jessica Smucker –RGS parent
  • Whitney Walker –RGS Fifth/Sixth Grade Educator, Math and Social Studies
  • Rachel White – RGS trustee, parent


Search Committee Goals and the Search Process


The RGS Search Committee represents a cross-section of the Rio Grande School community, and its primary task is to assist the consultants in conducting the several phases of the search. The Committee will provide the consultants with data from various sources as they get to know RGS and the role of and qualities sought in the next Head of School so that they can promote the school and opportunity and screen candidates effectively. This initial data gathering phase, prior to the actual launch of the search itself, includes providing the consultants with school documents, hosting their visit to RGS and conducting a constituent survey.


After the consultants have completed the approximately two-month long candidate cultivation phase of the search, the selection process will commence. During this month-long period, the Search Committee will review applications and select candidates for the Committee to interview, first with a group of semifinalists and then with a narrower field of finalists. Most importantly, the Committee will recommend to the Board of Trustees the person who should be the next Head of School. The Board will make that final decision to bring the search to a close


As the search is coming to an end, the Search Committee will also assist with the creation of an RGS Transition Plan and a Transition Team that will oversee the all-important leadership transition process; from the announcement of the head’s appointment in early February, to the head’s arrival at RGS in July, 2019 and throughout the first year of the new headship. All during the search and into the transition, the Committee will help to maintain a flow of information about the search’s progress and will indicate ways in which the RGS community can be involved.


Please contact Bob or Ned via email if you have questions or feedback about the search.


Most Recent Updates 

New Head of School Announcement, February 21, 2019 from Ocean Munds-Dry and Ahlum Scarola 
Finalists Visit Letter, January 24th from Bob Kirtpatrick and Ned Walpin
Update on Search January 15 from Bob Kirtpatrick and Ned Walpin
Update on Search December 17th from Bob Kirtpatrick and Ned Walpin
Update on Head of School Search November 28th from Bob Kirtpatrick and Ned Walpin

Update on Head Search, Consultant Visit and Constituent Survey-  - October 25 from Ocean Munds-Dry, Bob Kirkpatrick and Ned Walpin

News Grande, Search Update October 10 from Ocean Munds-Dry - 

Letter from RGS Board Chair Ocean Munds-Dry and Head of School Nigel TaplinSeptember 26


Search Timeline
  • September 26: Announcement of Nigel Taplin’s decision to retire in June 2019
  • October 10: Update on preliminary work done for the head search
  • October 10-12: Search firms interviewed
  • October 15: Educator’s Collaborative selected as head search firm
  • October 18: Head Search Committee (SC) formed
  • October 25: Update on the search, announcement of consultants’ visit, Constituent Survey opens
  • October 30: Consultants visit RGS
  • November 2: Constituent Survey closes
  • November (early): Consultants complete, school approves RGS Search Opportunity Statement
  • Nov.-Dec.: Search under way - consultants cultivate and screen candidates
  • January: SC selects and interviews semifinalists (TBA), SC selects finalists and coordinates visits (TBA)
  • February (early): SC recommends new school head to RGS Board of Trustees,  Board of Trustees appointment of new Head of School
  • February: New Head of School transition begins
  • July 1: New Head of School begins work at RGS