Head of Upper School

Holland Hall
Tulsa, OK United States

Holland Hall, Tulsa’s only PreK through Grade 12 independent Episcopal school, is seeking an energetic, student-centered leader to join its joyful and intentional community as the next Head of Upper School (also referred to as the Branch Head). The Branch Head serves as the educational leader in the division, responsible for the day-to-day operations with the divisional leadership team. Reporting directly to the Head of School, and a member of the all-school academic leadership team, the Head of Upper School directs a comprehensive program that offers an array of academic and co-curricular offerings that challenge and motivate an exceptional student body to experience a holistic education that will prepare them for a life of meaning beyond Holland Hall.  The next Head of Upper School will have the opportunity to work with the academic leadership team, department chairs, and Upper School faculty in continuing the work begun in shaping a re-imagined student-centered curriculum. Holland Hall is currently celebrating its Centennial and will be engaging in some exciting work to continue to advance the school with opportunities for the Upper School Head to lead the transformational work defined in the school’s strategic plan.  Please visit the school’s website at www.hollandhall.org and the embedded hyperlinks in this profile for additional information and insights.

The Beginning

In 1922, a group of ten prominent Tulsa citizens recruited Miss Winnifred Schureman from her position as a camp director in Minnesota to serve as the first headmistress. The school was named Holland Hall in tribute to Miss Schureman’s Dutch ancestry. The 1924 school catalog reads: “Holland Hall entered the educational field with a distinct mission, that of placing a fully equipped college preparatory school of the highest standing, where each student may receive individual attention, within the reach of any citizen in Tulsa. It aims not only to prepare students to enter the highest instructions of the country but also to be useful members of society. It stands distinctly for the highest educational standards.” In 1959 the school became affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Holland Hall is the oldest independent school in Tulsa.

The School

Across three divisions (called branches), Holland Hall offers their 1000+ students a curriculum that ensures a progressive transition from grade to grade, with departments cooperating across branches to form a rigorous and comprehensive academic program. At all ages, students are engaged in learning through traditional classroom activities and a variety of experiential hands-on opportunities. The Holland Hall foundation that prepares them for such success begins in the Mary K. Chapman Primary School in PreK through third grade. Lessons learned and values imparted in the Primary School form a solid base upon which students build as they transition into the Middle School where students  find a balance between a rigorous curriculum and a developmental, exploratory experience.

Holland Hall provides a challenging, comprehensive educational experience grounded in a rigorous liberal arts, college preparatory curriculum that promotes critical thinking and life-long learning. A PreK-12 Episcopal school, we seek to foster in each student a strong moral foundation and a deep sense of social responsibility.

Essential Qualities of a Graduate

  • Moral: a person of integrity, with high ethical standards, compassion, and respect;
  • Intellectual: a person who thinks critically, communicates effectively, loves learning, appreciates the arts, is curious, and is well-prepared for college;
  • Knowledge of self: a person with strong decision-making abilities, who values perseverance and hard work, collaborates well, is self-disciplined and self-aware, and pursues health of body, mind, and spirit;
  • Citizenship: a person who lives as a cooperative member of his/her local and global communities.

Diversity and Inclusion Statement

A culture of inclusion is essential to the mission of an Episcopal school with the Church’s history of passionate advocacy for social justice and human unity. The skills of multiculturalism are essential to the depth of students’ learning and their ability to participate in our interconnected world. We employ these skills to drive academic excellence, embolden students to embrace their own identities, and foster appreciation for the differences of others. We welcome and strive to integrate varying family structures, socio-economic backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, sexual identities, religions, races, and physical and cognitive capabilities. In every aspect of school life, Holland Hall commits to teaching and challenging our community to discard stereotypes, embrace inclusion, and practice radical empathy.

The Upper School

With small class sizes, active teaching and learning, and a strong commitment to rigorous academics, arts, athletics, and service,  the college-preparatory curriculum fosters critical and creative thinking, collaboration, communication,  citizenship, and life-long learning. Supporting the academic curriculum, the arts program rivals that of a small college and the Dutch athletic program currently offers 30 interscholastic teams in eight, soon to be nine sports, with the return of wrestling in the 2022 -2023 school year.

Episcopal Identity plays a critical role in educating the whole person, teaching freedom and responsibility, belief and open-mindedness, social conscience and individual integrity. Holland Hall’s Episcopal affiliation reflects the belief that individual character unfolds in important ways: by respecting tradition, thinking for oneself, and service.

The 364 students in the Upper School are guided by both an honor code and the faculty, who have an average 22 years teaching experience with 63% holding advanced degrees. Both faculty and students are fully engaged in an exceptional learning environment where relationships between students and faculty provide the foundation of meaningful learning and mentorship.

Faculty serve as an advisor to a small group of students, and the long-standing  modular (mod) schedule provides unique opportunities for students to interact with each other and with their teachers. The Upper School begins each day with an all school (grades 9-12) meeting in the Barnard Commons in the Upper School building which has been recognized by inclusion on the National Registry of Historic Places. The building today is as inviting today as it was fifty years ago, and, as long-time head Bert Moore stated in the first meeting in the Commons, “It is not books or chalkboards or playing fields or course or requirements – it is people. This very room came into being because we wanted to stress physically our philosophical belief that what goes on between people – parents, students, teachers, administrators, alumni, trustees – this is central to what the school is all about.” This sentiment remains true today as it was fifty years ago.

Life at Holland Hall is rich and vibrant, and both arts and athletics play a critical role in shaping  the community. Students at all levels have the opportunity to deepen their particular interests, whether in music or the visual or performing arts. Holland Hall’s participation in the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest’s (ISAS) Arts Festival is a great example of this opportunity. The school has hosted the festival seven times, more than any other school within the association, and is set to host again in the spring of 2028. A wide variety of athletic teams compete at a high level, and the athletic department reinforces the values students learn in class: character, perseverance, positive attitudes, and resilience. Students have plentiful opportunities to become engaged in clubs and activities, and all demonstrate a commitment to community service that aligns with the school’s mission “to foster in each student a strong moral foundation and a deep sense of social responsibility.”

The Kistler-Gilliland Center for the Advancement of Learning  at Holland Hall is a unique aspect of the school that ensures its constant evolution and improvement. The endowed center aims to foster a thorough understanding of how young people learn. It seeks to create partnerships with students, parents, schools, and community resources in order to advance the quality of a Holland Hall education. The Kistler-Gilliland Center provides workshops, seminars, and professional development opportunities for constituents of the school who are committed to progressive, top-quality education.

The Upper School prepares each student for success in college and life by sharpening their  ability to make sound decisions, solve difficult problems, and cultivate healthy values. The school is collectively proud of its students for their character, contributions, and accomplishments. Guided by a nationally recognized college counseling program, graduates matriculate at some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the nation.

Strategic Plan 2020      

In preparation for its Centennial, the Holland Hall community conducted an all-encompassing planning process beginning with a retreat led by internationally recognized K-12 thought leader Grant Lichtman followed by eight listening and planning sessions. The Board of Trustees and the school’s leadership team identified five priorities to guide the school for the next five to seven years in their Strategic Plan 2020. The guiding principles are:

  1. A focus on vibrant lives – Fostering well-being, critical thinking and a love for service
  2. Spaces that welcome & engage – Building on the success of the Tandy
  3. Learning & leading at the center of it all – Taking a hard look at curriculum & diversity
  4. ‘Within reach of any citizen of Tulsa’ – Ensuring a strong financial & philanthropic future
  5. Inspiring leadership in education – Empowering teachers with the resources to thrive

The Head of the Upper School, along with their counterparts in the Primary and Middle Schools, will look to focus their work as divisional leaders in accomplishing many of the 27 objectives supporting the five guiding principles, which include a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging as guided by the Episcopal Identity.  Along with the academic leadership team (Associate Head for Academics, Upper School Branch Head, Middle School Branch Head, and Primary School Branch Head), the Upper School Head works directly with their divisional leadership team (which currently includes two Deans and the Director of Counseling & Wellness) in supporting the department chairs and the faculty in their work with students. The Upper School leadership team is supported by the School Chaplain, Director of College Counseling, and Learning Specialist while working closely with the Director of Athletics and the all-school administrative team. There is an opportunity for the next Upper School Head to reorganize the divisional team to distribute responsibilities and enhance divisional communication.

The Campus

Holland Hall’s spectacular 162-acre south Tulsa campus includes, along with the National Registry of Historic Places recognized Upper School building, the 50,000-square-foot A.R. & Marylouise Tandy Dining and Wellness Center, All Saints Chapel, six science labs, three libraries containing over 60,000 volumes, and the 70,000-square-foot Walter Arts Center designed for use by students and numerous arts organizations. The campus also includes creeks and ponds to explore, an outdoor classroom, an eight-lane, all-weather track, and two cross-country trails loop through the woods. A dozen tennis courts, a golf putting & driving practice green, and fields for football, baseball, softball, field hockey, and soccer round out this beautiful campus.

Accreditation and Affiliations

Holland Hall is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS), of which the school was among its founding members. The school is also recognized by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Holland Hall is a member of National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES), Independent Schools Data Exchange (INDEX), Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association (OSSAA), Cum Laude Society, and School Year Abroad (SYA) to name a few of the school’s affiliations.

About Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa offers an attractive blend of regional and cultural influences, including a Southwestern flair, Midwestern values and a strong Native American heritage. Nestled in the northeast quadrant of the state, Tulsa lies in the heart of “Green Country,” so named for its rolling green hills and wooded  terrain. Recognized as one of “America’s Most Livable Communities,” especially for families, as well as the “Best City in U.S. for Young Entrepreneurs” the city has a 20-mile river park trail system, an excellent zoo, an aquarium and many recreational areas. Outdoor Magazine recognized Tulsa for 2021’s “Where to Live Now (and in the rapidly changing future)” for the numerous sports activities and teams, the 918 Trails Network which will link 100 miles of trails through six parks. Great dining and an active music scene also contribute to the appealing quality of life. The multi- million-dollar A Gathering Place for Tulsa, a project of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, transformed nearly 100 acres of Tulsa’s waterfront along the Arkansas River into a dynamic and active space. Also, an outstanding Cost of Living Index ensures reasonable home prices and easy access to living close to campus, if so desired. A dollar goes a long way in Tulsa, OK, and the time made available due to short commutes certainly appeals to families.

Opportunities and Challenges for the Head of Upper School

The successful candidate for the Head of Upper School at Holland Hall will demonstrate expertise in team building and individual relationship development with all three constituencies of the Upper School (students, faculty, and parents). This position is ideal for a skillful professional leader who seeks a collaborative working relationship with a strong faculty and a school administrative team that seeks to take a great school to an even greater level of serving students.

It is expected that the Head of Upper School will:

  • Embody and embrace the mission and values of the school
  • Fully engage in the work of the Strategic Plan 2020, aligning divisional goals and objectives annually with the plan and its Guiding Principles
  • Proactively engage in the school’s daily life
  • Have relationship-building with students and faculty as a priority in all their work
  • Work with department chairs, faculty and administration to assure the effective delivery of the school’s academic programs in a way that reflects the most current research and best practice
  • Foster transparency, trust, and open communication among all constituencies of the school
  • Lead with creativity and persistence in the evolution of world-class teaching and learning through design thinking and exploration of the latest brain research
  • Be a strong advocate for the Upper School in overall school operations

Preferred experience:

  • Leading and teaching students and working with faculty in middle or upper school
  • Independent school experience focused on whole student education
  • Designing and fostering work toward experiential and project-based learning
  • Focusing on an engaging, positive school culture
  • Overseeing the creation of individual schedules within a complex, multi-division school schedule
  • Developing a breadth of knowledge about student-centered curricula, including students who learn differently
  • Ensuring a joyful and efficient learning and teaching environment for students and faculty

Personal characteristics:

  • An excellent communicator with all constituents who speaks clearly with presence, writes concisely and effectively, and actively listens to seek understanding
  • Can easily relate to students and meet them where they are
  • Comfortable dealing with a diverse, strong faculty
  • Can see issues from multiple perspectives, including teacher, student, and parent
  • Have an open and collaborative leadership style combined with the ability to be a decision-maker
  • Sees discipline as a teachable moment, while holding school values at the forefront
  • Ability to collaborate effectively to recruit, hire, and retain a diverse, strong faculty
  • Flexible and adaptive to school culture
  • Model appropriate balance between school and life
  • Consistent willingness to do what is best for the students and school
  • Comfortable working with the other areas of the school
  • Energy and passion for working with young people and the adults serve them
  • Highly engaged, visible and involved presence on campus and at school events

Contact Information

Process and Timeline

Holland Hall has engaged Educational Directions and Dr. Jerry Larson to assist with and lead the search for the next Head of Upper School. Prospective candidates should begin the process as soon as possible by reaching out to Jerry at jlarson@edu-directions.com

Candidates are advised to begin the process as soon as possible, as Holland Hall reserves the right to accelerate the process for highly qualified candidates

Interested candidates should submit via email, preferably in a single PDF to jlarson@edu-directions.com  their final application by Saturday December 18, 2021, at the latest, the following:

  • A letter of interest addressed to Holland Hall Head of Upper School Search Committee indicating why they are particularly attracted to and qualified for the position
  • A current resume
  • A personal statement outlining their educational journey which includes a brief statement of philosophy
  • The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of five references (permission from candidates will be obtained before contacting references.)

Holland Hall and Educational Directions provides equal opportunity in education and employment for all persons without regard to  race, religion, color, gender, age, national origin, disability, military service, sexual orientation, or any other status or condition protected by applicable state or federal laws, except where a bona fide occupational qualification applied.