Laurel School

Laurel School - Head of School Search

November 10, 2020

Dear Laurel and Newgrange Community,

After a focused national search conducted over the last few months, I am delighted to announce that Bob Thomas has been appointed as The Laurel School’s second head of school, effective July 1, 2021.

Bob is currently the Director of Enrollment Management and Communications at The Churchill School & Center in New York City.  His credentials are impressive.  The Churchill School & Center is a school very similar to Laurel, in that their mission is to serve students with language-based learning differences such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, executive functioning and ADHD.  Bob’s affinity for Laurel stems from his work at Churchill, and seeing how amazingly creative those children are.

In June, Dee Rosenberg in a letter to myself and the Board of Trustees announced that the 2020-21 school year will be her last.  Dee, along with Dr. Gordon Sherman, founded Laurel and have seen it grow into a vibrant school for children with language-based learning differences.  Dee has overseen the creation of Laurel’s high school program and the installation of its competency-based curriculum.  While Dee is stepping down from the reigns of Laurel, she intends to devote her energies in leading The Robinowitz Education Center.  There, she will oversee all professional development initiatives, tutoring, educational evaluations and our partnership with The College of New Jersey.

A national search for Dee’s successor began immediately.  Educational Directions, a highly regarded search firm for heads of school, was selected and retained.  Sam Richards and Jerry Larson from Educational Directions assisted in the search.  They scoured resumes and presented ten highly qualified candidates.  Those candidates were narrowed down to five semi-finalists, and then down to three finalists.  The three finalists completed intensive on campus interviews with various Laurel constituents.  I would like to thank all the candidates for their dedication to the process and the affinity they all have for Laurel’s mission.  I would also like to thank the members of the search council, who interviewed the candidates and provided invaluable feedback that led me to the decision to name Bob as the next head of school.

It was evident that Bob rose to the top of the finalist’s candidates, as he demonstrated a thorough grasp of the Laurel mission, its culture and knowledge of children with learning differences. 

Bob has gained a reputation for his down-to-earth, authentic, and inspiring approach, a strategic relationship builder, classroom teacher, athletic coach and school leader.  Bob began his educational career in the Philadelphia Parochial School system, teaching at two urban schools.  After several years in Philadelphia (where he grew up), Bob moved into the independent school arena.  He spent 14 years in Delaware before taking a teaching position at Princeton Day School.  After four years there, Bob decided to leave the classroom and move into administration.  He served as director of admissions, enrollment management, financial aid and as the director of community at several independent schools, including The Haverford School, Haddonfield Friends School, and The Churchill School & Center. 

When Bob is not working, Bob enjoys time with his wife, Caroline; his teenage daughter, Jacie; their cats, Lexi and CoCo; and their dog, Evie.  He loves the Phillies, Eagles, Red Sox and enjoys cooking, golf and woodworking. 

One of Bob’s top priorities will be growing Laurel’s enrollment as Laurel expands its high school program, its Live At Laurel program and its 1:1 At Laurel concept.  Bob will also be ensuring that the pedagogy is meeting the children where they are at in their educational journey, executing the new strategic action plan, and there is a sound partnership between the school and our families. 

Bob will begin the transition process during the winter and spring, learning as much as possible about Laurel so that he is ready to begin in July.  My team and I are excited to begin working with Bob. 

This is truly an exciting time for The Laurel School.  While I am sad to see Dee step down, I am excited to have Bob lead the school into the future.  Please join me in welcoming Bob Thomas to the Laurel family.

Onward and Upward,

Tim Viands
CEO and Head of Schools

The Search Process: Ensuring the Right Decision

Search Council for the Head of School Search

Tim Viands, CEO and Head of Schools
Dee Rosenberg, Current Head of School
Aimee Nyce, Director of Admissions
Sharon Anderson, Laurel Teacher
Donna Mehta, Laurel Parent

Rebecca Jenks, Laurel Parent
Jen Gursky, Director of Development
Lorraine McKay, Assistant Head of School
Karen Schoenfeld, Board Member / Laurel Parent

Bob Thomas: Letter To The Laurel School School Community

Dear Laurel School Community:

I am honored and excited to be joining The Laurel School of Princeton community as the next
Head of School. As I transition into my new role over the next several months, I am eager to
meet students, faculty, staff, and parents before I officially begin in July 2021. Education has
been much of my life’s work and passion. This makes being at The Laurel School all the more
exciting because of the school’s commitment to educational excellence and competency
development. Focusing on a student’s strengths embolden and empowers them to seek out their
true selves and become lifelong learners both intellectually and emotionally.

Although COVID-19 made it difficult to meet many members of the community in person, the
kindness and dedication of those I did meet was evident. I could hear their genuine commitment
to the students and the school. The creativity and innovation I saw tells me that this is an
exceptional and exciting learning community.

The foundation of my philosophy as an educator is that every decision made begins with this
question: Is it in the best interests of the students? Whether as a classroom teacher, athletic
coach, or administrator, I am dedicated to ensuring all our students continue to receive an
excellent education in a supportive, challenging, and nurturing environment and that they be
well-prepared for the world they will face when they leave The Laurel School. Additionally, I
am dedicated to making sure the faculty, staff, and administrators receive the support they need.

To have this opportunity to continue the work of Dr. Gordon Sherman and Dee Rosenberg is
thrilling. To be honest, moving through my educational career, it never occurred to me that I
would be in a position to lead a school for students with learning differences. Yet, as a middle
school teacher in traditional schools, I remember reading Howard Gardner’s book “Multiple
Intelligences: New Horizons.” This book changed how I delivered my curriculum to my students
with the understanding that all students learn differently and I needed to meet those needs in my
classroom. And now, having a 15-year-old daughter with a learning difference and having
worked for the past four years at The Churchill School and Center in Manhattan, I see myself
well prepared for this leadership position at Laurel.

I look forward to meeting all of you and having you meet my wife, Caroline and my daughter,
Jacie (maybe one day, I’ll even bring my dog Evie in for a visit!). Stay safe, stay diligent, and
stay passionate!

Bob Thomas
Head of School
The Laurel School of Princeton

UPDATE 8/11/20

Dear all,

Educational Directions has completed their Head of School Search Prospectus.  Please find it HERE The timeline for the search is as follows:

  • Applications due: September 30, 2020 
  • Candidates notified of status: October 15, 2020 
  • Semifinalist Interviews: October 24 – 25, 2020 
  • Finalist Interviews: November 9 – 20, 2020 
  • New Head of School named on or about: November 25, 2020 

We are excited to begin this search in earnest, as well as make Dee’s final year as the head at The Laurel School the most memorable yet.

Onward,

-Tim

 

—–

 

Dear Laurel School Community,

I write to inform the community that Dee Rosenberg has notified me that this year will be her last year as Head of School at The Laurel School.  I am pleased to announce that Dee will continue in a full-time capacity as the Director at The Robinowitz Education Center going forward.

In Dee’s time at Laurel, she has overseen the founding of the school in 2012, move from a church basement to the Kingston Campus, and now the move to our brand-new location in Hopewell.  Dee has also been forward-thinking in expanding the school from a tiny school to a school that is adding a high school program with a curriculum grounded in research-based practices and competency-based learning. 

One of Dee’s passions is mentoring teachers and testing children for learning differences, and as the Director at The Robinowitz Education Center, Dee will lead the newly formed partnership with The College of New Jersey, where the education center will provide all dyslexia testing for their Early Child Literacy Institute.  Dee will also be expanding upon the newly formed Enlightenment Learning Solutions, which provides online tutoring, assessments, consultations, professional development and online schooling options.  

Dee is a nationally recognized thought-leader in the field of language-based learning differences and as one of the most respected thinkers and practitioners in dyslexia.  I am humbled that she is taking on the enormous challenge of spearheading unprecedented growth and recognition of the education center.

To assist in finding Dee’s successor, I have retained a leading school consulting firm, Educational Directions (EDUx).  The lead consultant, Dr. Jerry Larson, also conducted the search that led to my appointment three years ago.  Jerry will be assisted by Sam Richards.  A search committee will be created, with the timeline to name a new head of school by December.  Laurel’s new head will begin on July, 1, 2021, but will use the time in between to transition and learn from the best, which is Dee. 

With Dee continuing in a leadership capacity within The Newgrange Family of Schools, I am confident that the fidelity of the Laurel program will remain and our new leader will build on Dee’s untarnished legacy. 

Warm Regards,

Tim Viands, CEO & Head of Schools
The Newgrange Family of Schools

Dee Rosenberg - Letter To The Newgrange Family of Schools

July 17, 2020

Dear Tim and the Board of Directors of Newgrange, Inc.,

After much thought, I have decided to step down from one of several roles I hold in our organization, the Head of School of the Laurel School of Princeton, as of the end of my contract on June 30, 2021. As the co-founder of the Laurel School with Gordon Sherman, I am pleased and proud of the work we have done to create a premier school for bright children who have dyslexia. The Laurel School will continue to grow and flourish because of its expert instructors, evidence-based curriculum, and warm, loving school culture.

Now is the time for me to focus energies as the Director of the Robinowitz Education Center, beginning on July 1, 2021. Part of the mission at Newgrange has been to share our expertise. Since my arrival at the Newgrange School in 2001, I continue to be committed to increasing the skills of students and assisting their families and other professionals through our expert professional development programs, educational evaluations, and tutoring. I am excited to increase our reach and impact through our new connections with TCNJ and our new Enlightenment platform.

While it will be difficult to move on from Head of School, I am excited to grow our organization in new ways through the Center.

Respectfully yours,

Dee Rosenberg
Head of School, Laurel School
Director, Robinowitz Education Center