It is with great pleasure that we announce that the Peoria Academy’s Board of Trustees has selected Chris Wilson to become our next permanent head of school. We chose Chris from an international pool of impressive candidates after a very thorough search process.
The selection comes with whole-hearted support of our Head Search Committee and Search Advisory Committee (which is composed of 5 parents, 2 faculty members and 1 administrative staff). Given the search timeline, candidate pool, visit constraints due to COVID, we were able to accelerate the search and come to a decision earlier than expected. It was clear from the search that Chris was by far the best fit for our school. In Chris, we found a visionary leader and community builder who possesses the creativity, commitment and vision to build our school over the coming years.
Chris is currently our Interim Head of School and has 20 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in independent schools, including a decade as a Head of School. Prior to joining Peoria Academy, he was the Head of School at The Bement School in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and at Esperanza Academy in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Chris has deep ties to the Midwest, as he has lived in Chicago and his parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins currently reside in Illinois.
Chris has already brought collaborative leadership with his decisive and calm demeanor during these uncertain times. Under his leadership as Interim Head of School, we have successfully reopened school in-person, created a distance learning model, strengthened our approach to teaching and learning, increased enrollment, and built a strong foundation for the rest of the school year. We are excited for what the future will hold under Chris’s leadership, and know that with his guidance we will be best positioned to realize our vision to prepare students to be caring, resilient, and successful in an increasingly global future.
Chris’s family includes his wife, Stephanie, a journalist and instructor at Yale University and the College of William and Mary; and his two daughters Madeline (4th grade) and Lydia (2nd grade) who currently attend school in Massachusetts. They look forward to continuing to get to know the Peoria Academy community.
In accepting this appointment, Chris said:
“From the first communications I had with Peoria Academy community members in discussing the Interim Head of School position, I have been struck by the genuine passion and love that you have for your school. As we find ourselves at the beginning of the second quarter, I remain grateful for the kindness, openness, and genuine partnership that parents, students, trustees, and faculty continue to show to me and to everyone involved with the school. I am confident that this spirit of partnership will lead to great growth for the Academy and will ultimately ensure that we meet our highest goal—to build the best possible experience for the young people entrusted to our care.”
In completing this Head of School search successfully, sincere thanks are due to the members of the Head Search Committee and Search Advisory Committee, who worked diligently and tirelessly throughout this summer. We are grateful for the invaluable support of the Board of Trustees. We also appreciate the wise counsel of Brooke Carroll from the search firm, ACIES Strategies.
In addition, we want to express our deep gratitude to our faculty, staff, administrators, students, parents, and alumni. What a wonderful community we have! Your deep insight to Peoria Academy’s past, present and future were indispensable in helping us identify the kind of leader we need.
Having just completed our 20th year and as we move into a bright future for Peoria Academy,
we are confident that Chris is the right leader for our school’s next chapter, just as we are optimistic that our entire community will thrive in years to come.
The Head of School Search Committee
Dear Peoria Academy Community:
It is with great excitement that I have been offered, and hereby accept, continued appointment as Peoria Academy’s head of school. My twenty years of experience in independent schools has taught me that not all schools are created equal, and I am humbled to have the opportunity to remain part of the special community I have found here at Peoria Academy. Peoria Academy’s diverse, compassionate, caring, and dedicated community seems the perfect place for me to make a professional home.
I have long believed in the power that a rigorous, balanced, and nurturing school can have in preparing our young people to be lifelong learners, dedicated community members, and responsible global citizens. Peoria Academy asks of its students a great deal—to be dedicated learners, to ask deep and meaningful questions, to connect with others across differences. Luckily, it has become clear to me in the opening months of my tenure just how dedicated our faculty are to helping our students learn and grow while retaining their sense of passion and creative joy.
Strong schools have strong teachers, happy students, and dedicated parents and volunteers. Peoria Academy has been through many challenges, perhaps the largest of them being the global pandemic of the past six months, and yet we remain a strong, vibrant, and happy school. This is because the foundation of the school, our core mission, is about serving students, together. I have already seen the connection and commitment that so many parents, teachers, and volunteers have shown over the opening months of school, and I can only imagine the work that will be possible as we move forward together.
As we embark on the next phase of Peoria Academy’s growth, I am grateful for the trust that this community has placed in me. In the coming months and years, I look forward to working with all of you to bring Peoria Academy forward into a new era successfully. I have seen firsthand how remarkable this school is, and what an important addition it has been to the lives of the citizens of Peoria and the surrounding communities. As we move forward, I know we will work together to ensure that many students in future generations will enjoy the opportunity to experience a Peoria Academy education.
Christopher H. Wilson
Head of School