After an exhaustive, global search that drew 60 qualified applicants from 11 countries, the Halifax Grammar School has found its new headmaster within its own walls.
At a meeting of the school’s Board of Governors on May 17, Steven Laffoley was unanimously approved as the Halifax Grammar School’s thirteenth headmaster since the independent school was founded in 1958.
Laffoley joined the HGS faculty in 1995 and has led Grammar’s Middle School (grades 5- 9) since 1997 where he also teaches English. He succeeds Blayne Addley whose appointment as head of St. John’s School in Vancouver was announced in January. Laffoley assumes his new position July 1, 2016, and transition planning will commence immediately.
“Selecting a new headmaster is the most important job we do as a board, and we were very pleased when our rigorous, global search for a new headmaster identified the best candidate as the one right under our noses,” said Paul Jewer, chair of the Halifax Grammar School Board of Governors, who also chaired the six-person search committee.
“Steven is ready for this – he knows Grammar as a student, teacher and administrator; is rabidly dedicated to the growth and welfare of our students; is liked and respected by students, parents, faculty, staff and volunteers; and has a history of strong performance and leadership that mirror our purpose and values,” Jewer added.
Laffoley sees his appointment as the fulfilment of his own journey as a Grammar student, one that has been guided by the school’s motto: Inito ad discendum, Exito ad serviendum – enter to learn, exit to serve.
“Thirty years ago, I had the great fortune to enter HGS to learn – and have, as a direct consequence, been learning from and serving the school ever since,” he said.
“Becoming the HGS headmaster is an opportunity to serve a family that has given me so much, at a time when the opportunities to live our mission have never been greater or more exciting. I look forward to working with the Grammar community to share that story.”
Rigorous selection process
The 14-week process included a search conducted by Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette under the direction of the board’s search committee and a marketing and direct-outreach campaign.
Candidate selection criteria were identified in consultation with the board, search committee, HGS leadership team, faculty, staff, key benefactors, Middle and Senior School students, and several key members of the Grammar community.
The headmaster candidate selection criteria covered seven essential roles: HGS leader, strategic visionary and innovator, student advocate, relationship builder, ambassador, manager, and change agent.
The campaign produced 60 formal applications from 11 countries in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East and included 10 heads of school, 18 deputy heads, and 32 from a variety of academic, decanal or administrative roles.
From this group, 16 were interviewed by the consulting agency from which the search committee interviewed a short list of six candidates and invited two back for a second round of interviews. The search committee unanimously recommended Steven Laffoley as the preferred candidate and the board endorsed the recommendation.
With this appointment, a search will commence soon to find Laffoley’s successor as head of the Middle School.