About Us

Head of School Search

From The Board

May 12, 2022

Dear Houston Christian Family and Friends,
 
With Dr. Livingston’s decision to retire as Houston Christian High School’s (Houston Christian) Head of School effective June 2023, a search for a new Head of School begins. Houston Christian’s Board of Trustees is ultimately responsible for selecting our new Head, and is committed to a process which is inclusive, transparent, and broadly focused. To support and facilitate this very important task, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mike Gustafson has requested that I Chair the Head of School Search Committee, and I have accepted. 
 
The Head of School Search Committee
The Board has appointed a Search Committee to guide and oversee the search process. I am humbled and blessed to serve with this talented team that is passionate about identifying the best candidate to lead our school. All the Search Committee members have a strong connection to Houston Christian; they include parents of alumni and current students, retired faculty, and current and former trustees. And, while he is not a member of the Committee, we are thankful that Dr. Livingston has offered to make himself available as a resource to the Committee and the new Head of School. 
 
The Search Consultants
One of the Committee’s first assignments was to identify and select an executive search firm to work with the Committee and the Board. Several search firms were identified and interviewed. The Committee recommended and the Board of Trustees selected The Education Group (TEG), a nationally recognized search firm specializing in recruiting heads and other senior administrators for independent schools. 
 
Our search will be led by Dr. John Cooper and Dr. Susan Lair. Both John and Susan have extensive experience as heads of independent schools, as well as many years of consulting experience and broad networks in the Texas market. Perhaps most importantly, they both have a passion for understanding a school’s unique culture and needs and finding the ideal recruit who fits that niche at a particular point in time. Please see additional biographical information for John and Susan below:
 
Dr. John Cooper
More than forty years’ experience in education as a college dean and professor, think tank president, consultant, and independent school headmaster (23 years as head of school in independent and faith-based schools). Board member, Independent Schools Association of the Southwest. Doctorate in Religion from Syracuse University. 
 
Dr. Susan Lair
More than forty years’ experience in education as a middle school/high school teacher, administrator in public and private schools, (24 years as upper school head and head of school in independent and faith-based schools). Board member, Independent Schools Association of the Southwest. Doctorate in Education Administration from University of Texas. 
 
The Process
John and Susan will be on the Houston Christian campus Tuesday, May 17th. Their visit will include an intense effort to meet in focus groups with administrators, faculty, staff, and students. They will also spend time with the Search Committee, members of the Board of Trustees, and other members of the Houston Christian community, including parents.
 
Additionally, as part of their discovery process, John and Susan have created an online Survey Questionnaire to solicit confidential perspectives from the entire Houston Christian community. Survey Questionnaires sent to parents, employees, trustees, and friends of school provide vital information about the hopes and dreams of the Houston Christian community. Survey results and information shared during focus meetings help our consultants develop a detailed document that includes a School and Position Profile, highlighting the personal and professional qualities and qualifications Houston Christian seeks in its next Head of School. In addition, the survey helps to engage, inform, and provide transparency to the Houston Christian community, including many who are eager to participate in and support the search process. Please see the link to the Survey Questionnaire included in this email. We encourage everyone to participate in this critical process and share your candid views. Responses are due by May 20, 2022. 
 
We are currently targeting a mid-June deadline for applications and will spend the coming months assessing the candidates and narrowing the field. We anticipate that the Board will have selected our next Head of School by the end of this year. This selection timing will give our new Head of School appropriate time to give proper notice to his or her current employer and to work with Dr. Livingston to ensure a smooth transition. 
 
We will keep you apprised of our progress throughout the search process. Should you have questions about the search process that are not answered in our routine communications, please direct all inquiries to me by email.
 
Conclusion
While we congratulate Dr. Livingston on his decision to retire as Houston Christian’s Head of School and celebrate the almost twenty-five years of tremendous success Houston Christian has experienced under his leadership, we look forward to Houston Christian’s next chapter and helping the Board find the best possible person to build on the outstanding school and organization that Dr. Livingston has been so instrumental in creating. Thanks to all of you for your commitment to this process. We cherish your prayers for Houston Christian and this search process as we proceed.
 
Very truly yours,
 
Kevin M. McDonald
Houston Christian High School
Head of School Search Committee Chair

List of 5 items.

  • Search Process

    Houston Christian High School is conducting a national search for a Head of School. Accordingly, we have contracted with The Education Group (TEG), an independent school head search, executive coaching, and consulting firm to assist us in conducting our search. HC looks forward to working with TEG as we begin this process. For the Head of School position, the Board is committed to engaging our school community in the search process.
    Our search will be led by Dr. John Cooper and Dr. Susan Lair. Both John and Susan have extensive experience as heads of independent schools, as well as many years of consulting experience and broad networks in the Texas market. Perhaps most importantly, they both have a passion for understanding a school’s unique culture and needs and finding the ideal recruit who fits that niche at a particular point in time. Please see additional biographical information for John and Susan below:

    Dr. John Cooper
    More than forty years’ experience in education as a college dean and professor, think tank president, consultant, and independent school headmaster (23 years as head of school in independent and faith-based schools). Board member, Independent Schools Association of the Southwest. Doctorate in Religion from Syracuse University. 
     
    Dr. Susan Lair
    More than forty years’ experience in education as a middle school/high school teacher, administrator in public and private schools, (24 years as upper school head and head of school in independent and faith-based schools). Board member, Independent Schools Association of the Southwest. Doctorate in Education Administration from University of Texas. 


  • Search Timeline

    • Planning and Launch of the Search (May 2022)
    • Candidate Development (May - June 2022)
    • Candidate Screening (June - August 2022)
    • Selection Process: Semifinalists (August - September 2022)
    • Selection Process: Finalists (September - October 2022)
    • Transition Support (November and ongoing through the new Head’s first year)

    To download a copy of the Search Timeline, click here.
  • Head of School Position Profile

    Click here to download the Head of School Position Profile.
  • Community Updates

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    To download the FAQ sheet, please click here

    WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR THE HEAD OF SCHOOL SEARCH?
    The formal process of our Head of School search begins with the publication of letters from both Head of School Steve Livingston and Board Chair Mike Gustafson, announcing Steve's retirement, recapping his accomplishments, noting the school's 25th Anniversary in 2023, and providing a short statement about the search process already underway. These letters are sent to the Houston Christian community, sister schools, and accrediting organizations. They are posted on the Houston Christian website. Additional communications contain information about the Search Committee and the search process. Finally, all communications are emailed to the community and placed on the Houston Christian website within a special tab for the Head of School search.
     
    WILL THE COMMUNITY HAVE OPPORTUNITIES FOR COMMUNICATION AND INPUT?
    As our founding head retires and we observe our 25th Anniversary in 2023, we anticipate a high-level of interest in this search within the school community and in the broader Houston community. The marketing department will work with local newspapers and other media outlets to provide timely news about Steve's retirement, the 25th Anniversary of Houston Christian, the Head of School search, and eventually, a new Head of School, with accompanying feature articles.
    Communications will flow both ways, providing members of the school community with opportunities to share their views with the consultants and the Search Committee. Faculty, staff, parents, alumni, former trustees, donors, and school friends will receive regular updates throughout the process. In addition, early in the process, our consultants will interview the Board of Trustees, school leadership, faculty, parents, and students, and provide an online survey for their input. Towards the end of the search, the Board, school leadership, faculty, parents, and students will have opportunities to interview each finalist and share their thoughts on each candidate through an online finalist evaluation survey containing areas for comments.
     
    HOW WILL THE SEARCH BE ADVERTISED?
    Our consultants will first post a brief ad and, later,  a thorough position profile on various job-posting and career websites, and in professional publications (NAIS, ISAS, Cognia, SAIS, ISACS, regional school associations, Christian universities, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the EDI Blue Sheet, etc.). In addition, our consultants will utilize their extensive list of contacts to personally share the opening with professional connections and known or targeted candidates.   
     
    HOW CAN I BE INVOLVED IN THE SEARCH? 
    The Search Committee is committed to a thorough, transparent, and inclusive process for the Houston Christian community. An initial survey will be conducted in May (for faculty, parents, students, etc.). The survey provides essential information that will allow the Board to set goals and priorities for the next Head of School 
    In addition to the survey and conversations with our consultants, the Search Committee will be actively engaged throughout the search. When finalists are identified and visit the campus, members of the school community will be invited to meet the candidates and provide feedback on their impressions of each finalist.  
            
    WILL THE HEAD OF SCHOOL SEARCH IMPACT MY CHILD'S EXPERIENCE AT SCHOOL?
    No. Houston Christian High School, our faculty, staff, and administrative team are committed to our primary goal: to provide the highest academic standards for the development of moral character, the enrichment of our students' spiritual lives, and the perpetuation of their growth in Christian ideals.
     
    WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE SEARCH FIRM? HOW WERE THEY CHOSEN?
    The Houston Christian Board considered a number of reputable search firms and chose The Education Group (TEG), a consultancy with 38 years of experience in Head of School searches. The Board is excited to be working with such a highly regarded firm and with our search consultants, Dr. John Cooper and Dr. Susan Lair.  John and Susan will guide the Search Committee through the search process, focusing on the specific needs of our community and offering guidance based on best practices. TEG will also help develop a position profile with a description of the qualities sought in the candidate. The consultants will recruit and assess candidates, assist the Search Committee throughout the process, and continue to work with the school throughout the next Head of School’s first year of leadership.
     
    WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE SEARCH COMMITTEE?
    The Search Committee and our consultants are tasked with directing the Head of School search process from start to finish and throughout the leadership transition. The members of the Committee were chosen as individuals who will have the long-term, best interests of the entire school in mind as they prayerfully discern God’s plan for our school’s next leader. The Committee will coordinate input from our school's various constituencies, work with our consultants to develop the position profile, and review the first round of candidates. The committee will then conduct interviews with the semifinalist and finalist candidates. At the end of the process, the Committee will present the individual whom they believe is the best candidate for the position. The Board will then be charged with the final decision. Another primary function of the Search Committee is to keep our community informed and engaged throughout the process, while balancing the importance of confidentiality.
     
    WHAT IF I HAVE FURTHER QUESTIONS OR A SUGGESTION FOR A POTENTIAL CANDIDATE?
    Questions about the search process can be directed to the Search Committee Chair, Kevin McDonald at: Kevin.McDonald.HCHS@gmail.com  The search consultants at The Education Group welcome such suggestions for potential candidates. Please email them at: john@educationgroup.com or slair@educationgroup.com.

Head of School Search Committee

Kevin McDonald
Search Committee Chair
(trustee, current and alumni parent)

Suzette Estes
(former HC principal)

John Gualy
(trustee, alumni parent)

Gunner Gundersen
(“founding pastor” board member)

Mike Handel
(former board chair, alumni parent)

Gail Stewart
(trustee vice-chair, alumni parent)

Mike Gustafson
ex officio
(trustee chair, past parent)