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    Monday, October 03, 2022

    Norwich Free Academy plans to name new head of school by December

    Norwich ― The Norwich Free Academy Board of Trustees will spend this fall interviewing finalist candidates, with a plan to name a successor to current Head of School Brian Kelly by December.

    Kelly announced last February that he plans to depart the academy once his three-year contract is up on June 30, 2023.

    David Kalla, vice chairman of the NFA Board of Trustees and chairman of the head of school search committee, said Tuesday the committee has narrowed the search to six or seven semi-finalists. Those candidates will be interviewed within the next three weeks, Kalla said, and the committee will select two or three finalists the committee will bring to Norwich and interview locally.

    Kalla said the board hopes to name a new head of school in December.

    The board hired search firm Educators Collaborative, a national firm with representatives throughout the country. NFA is working with one representative in Connecticut and one on the West Coast. The firm solicited applications, narrowed the search and presented a larger pool to the board’s search committee, which selected the semi-finalists.

    The semi-finalists are a diverse group, Kalla said, including one currently at an international school, some in Connecticut and others from other parts of the United States.

    “We’ve been pleased with the quality of candidates, and we think that we’re going to be able to make a really good choice for our school and for our students,” Kalla said Tuesday.

    Kalla thanked Kelly for providing the board with a long lead time to conduct a “really nice, thorough search.” Board search committee members are Kalla, Board of Trustees Chairman DeVol Joyner, Secretary Betsy Conway, Treasurer Denise Lindell and Todd Postler, president of the NFA Foundation, the private endowment arm of the academy.

    Kelly was hired in May 2020, and his entire brief tenure was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. He previously headed a kindergarten-through-12th-grade school in Colombia and had an extensive background in international education.

    Kelly cited family concerns for his decision to leave NFA.

    During his time at NFA, Kelly restructured school administration in response to projections of declining high school enrollment and boosted marketing efforts to retain students in NFA’s partner district towns and to attract private tuition-paying students from outside the region. NFA this year launched the new NFA Hockey Club, drawing 15 tuition-paying students from Canada.

    Kalla said the search committee is seeking a candidate to continue navigating financial challenges and making changes while retaining NFA’s strong adherence to its traditions.

    “As we try to emerge from COVID, we recognize there are areas in terms of providing teaching for our students we can improve,” Kalla said. “Dr. Kelly has started us on that track, and we’re looking for someone to continue those efforts. We’re looking for someone who’s going to be able to both bring change and respect the traditions and values we’ve always had here.”

    c.bessette@theday.com

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