Chase Collegiate School in Waterbury is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Polly A. Peterson, PhD, MSW as its new Head of School. The appointment is the exciting culmination of an intensive nationwide search launched to identify a successor to Mr. John Fixx, who stepped down last June.
Dr. Peterson, who will take office on July 1, 2014, comes to Chase from The Winston School in Dallas, Texas, where she has served as Head of School since 2007. An educational leader for over 25 years, Dr. Peterson is a strong supporter of mission-driven education and is known for her determination to make a positive difference in the lives of young people. An articulate and strategic thinker, Dr. Peterson possesses imagination and foresight to conceptualize new ideas and the skills to bring them to fruition.
“The measure of an inspirational school is the students, faculty and staff, families and community culture. Chase Collegiate is a community of committed, caring and dedicated people who love their school, their traditions, and are excited about new opportunities. Without any doubt in my mind, I am thrilled to become a member of the Chase community, lead this magical place through the 21st century and love it as much as everyone who is already a part of this great community,” said Dr. Peterson upon accepting the offer for her new position.
While at Winston, which specializes in teaching “bright students who learn differently,” Dr. Peterson led her school to success through her guidance of teachers and program, working to increase enrollment and strategically balancing the budget. Through Dr. Peterson’s leadership, The Winston School integrated the use of technology so that laptops, online curriculum and distance learning are all part of the educational experience. She introduced an “academy” teaching model which enables students to specialize in solar/science, performing arts, fine arts, world cultures or service learning. Full of energy and dedicated to moving her school forward, she also reached out into the Dallas community, creating The Winston School Lecture Series, to help make The Winston School known in the region.
With Chase Collegiate School’s rich history combined - a blend of Saint Margaret’s School for Girls and McTernan School for boys - Dr. Peterson will take her place as the 20th Head of School in Chase’s history.
Head Search Committee Co-Chair and Board of Trustees Chair, John Pronovost, shared “Dr. Peterson’s appointment brings to a close a reaffirming process that strengthened our School and our vision for its future. I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to the Search Committee for its commitment to identifying a proven leader who was seeking a strong school community and who held a commitment to academic excellence and planning for the future in the highest regard. I am deeply thankful for the current leadership provided by Academic Dean, Joe Hadam, who is serving as the School’s Interim Head of School until Dr. Peterson arrives.”
Board of Trustees Secretary and Search Committee member Diana E. Smith ’55 states “Polly Peterson as Chase's next Head is a complete package. She turned around her current school, beginning with straightening out its financial management and righting its bottom line. She established strong ties with its community, which in turn benefited the school. She connected well here with all of Chase's constituencies: students, families, faculty, administrators and alumni, and was especially caring with our youngest students and their teachers. She displays commitment and energy, and people who have worked for and with her in the past have liked doing so enormously. She will challenge all of us at Chase to be and do our personal best, which is what we try to bring out in each Chase student.”
A native of Waterford, CT, Dr. Peterson holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from Southern California University for Professional Studies, Santa Ana, CA. She earned her master of social work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD and her bachelor of science in social work from Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT. In addition, Dr. Peterson is a 2013 fellow from the Head of School Program at the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership, Columbia University.
Outside of her School responsibilities, Dr. Peterson has authored a number of publications; most recently a book titled “Healthy Jingles for Kids-Nutrition,” published in March 2010. She is an avid hiker, kayaker, biker and a runner who has completed several marathons. Dr. Peterson’s maintains a commitment to community beyond her school as well. She has served as a volunteer for Genesis Women’s Shelter, Shoes for Orphan Souls and North Dallas Food Bank.
At her previous school, North Broward Preparatory in Florida, Dr. Peterson led the educational program and the guidance and counseling program. Her career before independent schools was centered on directing counseling services, teaching counseling and providing individual counseling which served to provide Dr. Peterson with a deep understanding of the development and growth of adolescents.
The Search Committee hired consultants, Carney, Sandoe & Associates, Boston, MA to guide the process of screening, interviewing and hiring Chase Collegiate School’s next Head. The Search Committee met individually with an impressive group of semi-finalists chosen from amongst the consultant’s recommendations. After careful consideration, four finalists were then invited for a two day visit to tour the campus and meet with members of the Chase community, who were given a voice in the process by way of comprehensive surveys.
In the concluding week of the search process, the Search Committee gathered final feedback, considered the results of surveys completed by all who met with the candidates, completed scores of reference calls and met daily to deliberate and make a final decision. Their unanimous recommendation was shared with the Board of Trustees, who unanimously concurred with the Committee’s recommendation.