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March 04, 2015

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy president to step down

Education Independent Schools
03042015_priscilla_sands Source:/Springside Chestnut Hill Academy

Dr. Priscilla Sands shares a moment with a student.

Dr. Priscilla Sands announced Wednesday her decision to step down as president of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year.

She will leave to assume leadership of the Marlborough School in Los Angeles, an independent school for girls in grades 7 to 12.

The school has formed a search committee – led by trustees Mims Zabriskie, secretary of the board, and Patrick Lindsay, chair of the education and enrollment committee – to work with a national search firm to identify candidates. Its first step will be to identify an interim head of school to be in place by July 1, 2015, according to Dick Hayne, board chairman of the school. That appointment will give the school one year to select a new, permanent leader.

When Sands began at Springside School in 1996 as head of school, just over 400 girls were enrolled in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. In 2010, Springside merged with neighboring, all-boys Chestnut Hill Academy. Enrollment today is 1,102 boys and girls at the Willow Grove Avenue campus in Chestnut Hill. 

In her letter to the school community, Sands wrote, “Our faculty and senior leadership team have been the guiding force behind all of our wonderful achievements.... They have taken the challenge to be bold, innovative, and daring and to teach our students for the ever-evolving world that awaits them. This is a faculty dedicated to the art of teaching and they meet their students, every day, at the intersection of passion and diligence.”

“So many highly visible facility upgrades have occurred over our 62-acre campus that it is difficult to list them all, and certainly the benefits to all members of the community are profound," Hayne said in a statement ."But I believe that Priscilla’s most notable accomplishment is what lies inside those facilities – the people who work there. Under her leadership, Priscilla has assembled a remarkable group of dedicated faculty and administrators who embrace her vision for 21st century education—experiential learning and problem solving in a team setting.”

In her letter to Hayne announcing her intention, Sands reflected on her career at the institution.

"We have accomplished the significant goals that we set out to achieve and rather than recap my professional highlights, I would prefer to focus on the small moments that have defined my last nineteen years and will stay tucked away in my heart forever," she wrote.

"During the first year of my headship, a little girl in pre-kindergarten guessed my profession to be the school crossing guard, because I was always in the hall; and a little boy who, because of my title, told his friends that I was the head nurse of the whole school. These vignettes have served as powerful metaphors for my career. I can still see the senior boy leaning back in his chair telling me that the time he spent at our bi-monthly lunches made the whole world float away, if only for forty-five minutes."