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Announcing the 16th Head of School at Breck

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

From the Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Dear Members of the Breck Community,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Search Committee, I am excited and honored to announce the appointment of Dr. Natalia Rico Hernández as the sixteenth Head of School at Breck, effective July 1, 2017. Dr. Hernández will succeed Edward Kim, who has provided important service and leadership over the past decade.

Dr. Hernández has led a life, personally and professionally, that aligns fully with Breck’s mission and values and has the experience and passion for which the Search Committee and Trustees were looking. From the very first interaction with Dr. Hernández, members of the Search Committee were impressed by her energy, depth of knowledge, reputation, and vision for Breck. She quickly rose to the top of a pool of highly qualified candidates from 19 states and 3 countries because of her diverse set of experiences and alignment with Breck’s mission. The Board of Trustees enthusiastically endorsed the Search Committee's unanimous recommendation to appoint Dr. Hernández as our next Head of School. 

Dr. Hernández brings to Breck an exceptionally broad and diverse personal and professional background. Raised in Houston, Texas, she attended public schools before entering the University of Texas where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts in French and her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration. She then spent twelve years working in public schools in Austin, Texas, first as a teacher, then as Assistant Principal and finally as Principal. In 2005 she accepted a position as Elementary Principal at Colegio Nueva Granada in Bogotá, Colombia, with responsibility for 450 students and 50 faculty members. She returned to the U.S. in 2010 as Head of the Lower School at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, overseeing 600 students across grades PreK-5. Dr. Hernández then became Director of Academics at Greenhill School in Addison, Texas (1,200 students, grades PreK-12), with responsibilities across all grades.

Currently, Dr. Hernández serves as the Assistant Head of School at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, Louisiana, a co-educational, independent, non-denominational day school very similar in many ways to Breck (1,200 students from early childhood through grade 12). As Assistant Head, she oversees the academic program from PreK-12, as well as all internal operations including direct reports from division heads, athletic director, dean of the arts and college counselors. In addition, since arriving at Newman in 2014, she has been responsible for managing two construction projects, opening a new childhood center, participating actively in a capital campaign and overseeing the school’s crisis management efforts.

Dr. Hernández holds a Doctor of Education in Leadership, Policy and Organizations from Vanderbilt University. Much of her research focused on teaching in independent schools, and her dissertation, “On Teacher Quality in Independent Schools,” was published in the Peabody Journal of Education. In addition, she has published articles in Independent Magazine and the National Association of Independent Schools blogs.

During her visit to Breck, Dr. Hernández impressed both faculty and parents with her approachability, strong communication skills, understanding of pedagogy and her belief in whole-child education. Faculty and staff were overwhelmingly enthusiastic in their evaluations of Dr. Hernández after her visit to campus, describing her as “inspirational,” “articulate and approachable,” “grounded in strong pedagogy,” and with “a track record of assisting and understanding faculty growth and further learning.” The Committee spoke at length with many current and past colleagues, all of whom also provided enthusiastic and unequivocal endorsements of her integrity, leadership and impact.

We look forward to welcoming Dr. Hernández, her husband Bobby and their two daughters Gabriela (Gaby), 15, and Andrea (Andi), 12, to our community in July. The Hernández family is eager to become fully engaged in the life of Breck and the Twin Cities area.

Choosing a new Head of School is one of the single greatest responsibilities of the Board of Trustees, and all of us in the Breck community owe a debt of gratitude to the efforts of our Search Committee. Maya Tester ’81 was incredible in her leadership and commitment to this process. Joining her on the committee was Trustee President Becky O'Grady, Michael Goh, Jill Schurtz, Susan Bass Roberts, Piyumi Samaratunga, and faculty members Ty Thayer '90, Evan Jones '86 and Mary Gentry. Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude and appreciation to the entire Breck community for your feedback, support and patience during this monumental time in Breck’s history.

In the coming months, you can expect further communication from the Board of Trustees regarding this upcoming transition, both in opportunities to acknowledge Edward Kim’s dedicated service to the school and to welcome Dr. Hernández.

Blessings,

The Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior
Chair, Breck Board of Trustees
Bishop, Episcopal Church in Minnesota

From Dr. Hernández

Dear Breck Community,

It is truly an honor to accept the invitation to serve as your sixteenth Head of School at Breck. For the past 130 years, Breck has been led by accomplished and respected leaders and I am humbled to have the opportunity to follow Ed Kim’s impressive decade of leadership.

Throughout the past twenty-three years, I have had the opportunity to serve a range of different school communities. Each experience has uniquely shaped my thinking and philosophy about teaching and learning. I believe in a steadfast commitment to purpose and mission, in the primacy of developing and maintaining strong relationships, and in the value of focusing on research-based and forward-thinking practices in education. I chose to be an educational leader because I believe in the positive influence and transformative nature of a supportive and challenging school culture. As an educational leader and parent, I chose independent schools that serve children from early childhood through senior year because I believe in an educational journey that honors a shared commitment to personalization and academic press from pre-kindergarten through graduation.

Over the past several months, it was very apparent my beliefs as a school leader matched Breck’s mission and values, specifically your commitment to discovering the talents of each individual child, diversity and inclusion, community service, and preparing students for the college of their choice that prioritizes fit. During my visit to Breck, I was struck by how consistently the mission and values are lived throughout the School. From the students at the lunch table, to the faculty meetings, to the community forums, these values were at the core of your concerns and were a clear priority for the next leader of Breck.

As we look to the future, I envision a critical part of my role as Head of School to be best described by the Spanish word, portavoz, or to carry the voice. It is my hope to carry the voice of our school—our rich history, unique educational experience, and important role in the community—for years to come.

My husband, Bobby, and I along with our two daughters, Gaby and Andi, look forward to our move to Minneapolis this summer. I am grateful for their invaluable support throughout my career, which has made it possible for me to be positioned and prepared to lead Breck at this point in its history. We realize that it will take time to meet and know the whole community, but we are excited and eagerly await the opportunity for future introductions. We are looking forward to participating in every aspect of Breck life as Mustangs!

Warmly,

Natalia R. Hernández, Ed.D.

 

Members of the Board of Trustees 2016-17

Lee R. Anderson, Sr. ’57, Lifetime Trustee
Daniel R. Aronson
Barbara E. Burwell
Timothy Clark
Drew Gaillard ’88
Michael Goh
Katharine Anderson Groethe ’88
Twanya Hood Hill
Rob Holt
Edward Kim
Lenesa Leana
G. Mike Mikan
Patty Murphy
Rebecca O’Grady, President
Rory O’Neill
Michelle Pohlad
The Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior, Chair
Brad Radichel
Joan Rex
Susan Bass Roberts
William C. Schmoker
Wendy Schoppert
Jill Schurtz
Ronald D. Sit
Jeffrey Slocum
Maya Tester ’81 
Andrew W. Turner

Search Committee Members

Maya Tester '81, Search Committee Chair
The Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Becky O'Grady, Board President
Andrew Turner
Michael Goh
Susan Bass Roberts
Jill Schurtz
Piyumi Samaratunga
Mary Gentry
Evan Jones '86
Ty Thayer ’90 

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