Head of School Search

From The Board

November 4, 2022
Dear Houston Christian Community and Friends,
Over the next two weeks, we will welcome finalists to the Houston Christian campus. Please remember, they evaluate us as much as we assess them. Thank you for caring so much about this critical and exciting moment in the life of Houston Christian. We have structured the campus visits to most effectively provide feedback to our Search Committee. We will have specific meetings with candidates for faculty/staff, senior-level administrators, student leaders, and representative groups of parents and community members. If you are designated to attend one of these meetings, you will receive a separate invitation.
We are inviting representative groups of parents and community members rather than conduct “town hall” style meetings. If you are invited to one or more of these “Community Meet and Greets” and can attend, we will gratefully receive your feedback electronically after each meeting.
If you are not invited to attend any specific meetings, we invite you to submit your thoughts online based on the candidates’ backgrounds and biographies as provided on our website the night prior to each candidate's visit. You can do so by emailing me at Kevin.McDonald.HCHS@gmail.com. We sincerely value input from our community members.
Here are some additional details about the planned visit:
  • The Education Group has contractually, and the search committee has voluntarily, done extensive reference checks on all finalists. In addition, Houston Christian conducts additional background, criminal, credential, and other safety checks in its hiring practices.
  • We told our candidates they would answer various prepared and impromptu questions for two days. Some of these questions will come in one-on-one meetings, and some in front of groups. We can only imagine how challenging and exhausting the days will be. The Search Committee is confident that two days of heartfelt questions, discussions, answers, and opinions will stand on their own merit and provide the information needed for the committee to make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees regarding our next Head of School.
We are grateful for your continued prayers and support. Inspired by the Gospel and sustained by God's grace, we are confident in this process and the blessings it will bring to our community.
Best regards,
Kevin McDonald
HCHS Trustee and 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

    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.
    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.
    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.   
    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.  
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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)

Finalists Campus Visits

In November of 2022, the Search Committee will bring our Head of School finalists to campus for campus tours and meetings with members from our community, including faculty/staff, senior-level administrators, student leaders, and representative groups of parents and community members. Below you will find detailed bios of our finalists as well as the dates of their visit to Houston Christian. These details will be released the night prior to their visit.