Message from Maura Farrell, our next Head of School as of July 1, 2018
“I am honored to accept the Head of School position at Sophia Academy, and I’m deeply impressed and inspired by the school. Sophia’s guiding principles, mission, and values resonate with my own convictions about education, about girls and women, and about equity.
“I feel particularly fortunate to be stepping into this role after Gigi DiBello’s many years of leadership, during which the school took so many significant leaps forward while maintaining its social justice ethos. In my visits to the school, I saw the Sophia creed in action among students, faculty and staff, board members, parents, and founders. I felt welcomed warmly by the community. I was especially impressed with the girls and how much they care about Sophia, how they see themselves as people who can and do make a difference in the world now, not just in the future when they become adults.
“Sister Mary Reilly and some of the other passionate people who helped her establish Sophia Academy aptly described the experience as a “leap of faith.” I saw that same spirit of determination, conviction, love, and action as I witnessed the girls’ support of one another and trust in the adults supporting them; experienced the excellent teaching that empowers Sophia students to engage energetically in learning; and saw a community-wide devotion to the mission.
“There is a palpable confidence in our collective ability to continue building a vital future for Sophia Academy and its students, and I am absolutely delighted that I will be able to be a part of it.”
Sophia Academy Announces Next Head of School
September 20, 2017
Providence, Rhode Island – Sophia Academy today announced Maura L. Farrell will be its next Head of School as of July 1, 2018. Farrell is currently the associate head of school at Winchester Thurston in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She will succeed Gigi DiBello who will be leaving the school after 11 years of dedicated service.
“We are delighted to welcome Maura to Sophia Academy,” said Alison Eichler, Board President. “We are confident that she will fully embrace the mission and culture of Sophia – valuing our unique strengths – and build upon them. We also look forward to introducing her to our community partners over the coming year.”
“I am honored to accept this position at Sophia Academy, and I’m deeply impressed and inspired by the school,” said Farrell, Sophia’s next Head of School. “Sophia’s guiding principles, mission, and values resonate with my own convictions about education, about girls and women, and about equity. I feel particularly fortunate to be stepping into this role after Gigi DiBello’s many years of leadership, during which the school took so many significant leaps forward while maintaining its social justice ethos.”
Founded in 2001, Sophia Academy, located in the Elmwood neighborhood in Providence, currently enrolls 61 students and has a full time faculty of four.
“This is an exciting time for Sophia. Maura will be joining an outstanding team of faculty and staff, who come to school every day ready to support student learning in a safe, joyful and generative environment,” said DiBello, Sophia’s current Head of School. “I look forward to making my last year our strongest one yet, and to working with Maura on a seamless transition.”
“I wish to extend my deepest gratitude to Gigi for taking my vision of creating a safe place for middle school girls to find their voice, and making it a reality,” said Sister Mary Reilly, founder of Sophia Academy. “And I am more optimistic than ever about our future knowing Maura believes in our mission to change the lives of girls from low-income homes through an empowering education.”
In addition to her current position, Farrell has served as Assistant Head for Planning, Director of Institutional Advancement, Director of the Capital Campaign and Director of Communications at Winchester Thurston. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh.
Search Update and a Survey –June 2017
We are happy to report the search for our next head of school is off to a strong start. Since we announced Gigi’s decision to step down in June 2018, we have formed a search committee, retained a search consultant and placed an initial job posting.
After thorough research, we are pleased to report we have selected Educators’ Collaborative (EC) as the firm to assist us with managing a thorough and open process. EC has deep experience working with, and evaluating independent schools across the United States and abroad.
Specifically, we have engaged Deirdre Ling, a senior partner at EC, with 14 years of search experience. She has helped over 80 boards identify heads of school throughout the country. Her EC partners are also available to assist with the identification and development of a pool of candidates well matched to the needs of Sophia Academy.
With these initial steps taken, it is now time to ask for your help. Will you consider sharing your thoughts and feedback on the characteristics our new leader should possess, by clicking the survey link:
We welcome your input by July 7, 2017
If you have a candidate for consideration, please share Deirdre Ling’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
One final note, confidentiality is important in this process. The Search Committee will not publicly discuss the names of any potential candidates. This is important to protect the candidates and the integrity of the search.
Thank you for your help, and continued support.
Sophia Launches Search
Sophia Academy’s beloved Head of School Gigi DiBello has decided to step down in June of 2018. While it is never easy to have a dynamic leader leave, we are grateful for Gigi’s dedication, vision and plain old elbow grease in leading Sophia for the last decade.
Gigi has guided Sophia through a tremendous period of growth and change. From developing a top-notch faculty, who brought high standards and rigor to our classrooms, to working with architects and construction teams to build our first permanent home, Gigi has worn many hats during her tenure. And with each hat, the Sophia community has grown stronger.
Sophia board members, Suzanne Fogarty, Head of the Lincoln School and Joy Fox, who led Governor Raimondo’s transition team will co-chair our search committee. This group will run a thorough and open process to find a new head of school to lead us into the future. They will engage many of you to get your thoughts and feedback on the characteristics our new leader should possess. Their work will begin immediately and in earnest.