Kelly Nelson Named Incoming Lower School Head

Dear Sheridan School Community,

With great pleasure, I am announcing we have hired Kelly Nelson to be Sheridan’s Lower School Head, beginning July 1, 2018. Kelly brings a wealth of classroom and administrative experience to the role and we are delighted she will be joining our community.

For the past six years, Kelly has served as the Lower School Head at Redwood Day School, an independent, progressive, K-8 school in Oakland, California. Prior to Redwood Day, Kelly held positions as Assistant Head of School, Director of Curriculum and Professional Development, and Kindergarten teacher at the Woodland School (PS-8) in Portola Valley, CA, and as an early childhood educator in the California public school system. Kelly holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University, and an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Columbia University. She also has completed Harvard University’s program,Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership.

Our search for a new Lower School head was extensive. Before we began, the teachers and I met to identify the most important qualities and competencies of a new Lower School Head and agreed we would wait another year to hire someone if the right candidate did not emerge in this search. We knew we wanted a leader who was familiar with the progressive model, understood early childhood education, had experience coaching and supervising teachers, possessed lower school teaching experience, would bring passion and compassion to their work, and loved children, among other qualities.

We conducted initial interviews with more than forty applicants from across the country and asked those who best matched our list of qualities and competencies to come to Sheridan for a day of interviews, meetings, simulations and lesson planning. During her visit, Kelly met with parents, faculty, staff and students, and they all agreed she would be an excellent fit for Sheridan.

Kelly is looking forward to her work at Sheridan and asked me to share the following with you:

“I am truly honored to be joining Sheridan, a welcoming and vibrant community that values the learning process and aspires to make a positive difference in the world. This vibrancy was evident to me from the moment I stepped on to campus and observed students demonstrating their knowledge in multi-faceted ways — in the classroom, on the playground, and throughout the hallways. Knowledge is a gift, but applying and demonstrating it in transformative ways to make a positive impact is even greater! I am energized by the reflective and proactive work the Sheridan community is doing to provide developmentally appropriate opportunities for children to think critically, challenge prejudices, respect differences, and view the world from multiple perspectives. I’m looking forward to getting to hear more from the children, teachers, and families about the ways in which I can help inspire and support the thoughtful progressive work we will be doing together this coming school year!”

Kelly’s current Head of School told me, “Kelly is a joy to work with. She brings integrity and authenticity to the work. She is well-equipped on social justice, educational theory and practice. Her teachers believe in her leadership. She opened the culture and communication of the Lower School. Her teachers will feel held and heard and that their voices are never lost.”

Please join me in welcoming Kelly when you see her this summer or next school year.

I hope you also will join me in saying thank you to Stephanie Folarin for the good work she has done in our Lower School over the past three years. We will be wishing her well in her next endeavors and she will always be a part of our Sheridan family.

Wishing you all the best,

Jessica