Announcing Bellwether's New Head of School
The heart of Bellwether is its teachers and students, and the families that value and trust in the unique educational experience that happens here. We are tremendously pleased to announce that we have selected Karen O'Neill Thomson as our new Head of School, to join us in this wonderful journey and lead us to an even stronger future.
Getting to Know Karen
Karen O'Neill Thomson sits down and talks about her journey as an educator. Click on the video below to hear from our new Head of School in her own words.
What did your journey to education and The Bellwether School look like?
From the Board of Directors:
February 12, 2021
Dear Bellwether Families and Friends,
We are thrilled to announce that the Bellwether School Board of Directors has selected Karen O’Neill Thomson to be our next Head of School. Karen comes to us with a wealth of teaching experience, pedagogical expertise, and leadership skills.
In addition to 15 years in progressive classrooms, Karen has held numerous leadership positions at both The Meadowbrook School of Weston and the Maple Street School in Manchester, Vermont. Prior to her pivot to education, she spent decades in sales and marketing and earned her degree from Dartmouth College. Karen’s dedication to fostering authentic relationships and to teaching the whole child are palpable. She is poised to take the next step in her career as an educational leader, and we feel lucky to have her onboard.
Our Search Committee, led by Board members Marta Beede and Bethany Gibbs, worked with Jean Lamont of Educators’ Collaborative, an organization with a tremendous reputation for placing successful Heads in progressive schools. We identified a strong pool of 36 applicants for this position. After carefully reviewing resumes, vetting candidates, and holding qualifying interviews, the Committee chose three finalists for follow-up interviews with the Board, meetings with staff, and tours of the school. While all finalists were talented teachers and leaders, it was clear from our interactions and from her stellar references that Karen’s philosophy of education, commitment to children, and auxiliary skill set would make her a fantastic fit for Bellwether.
Please join us in welcoming Karen to our community. She will be starting in the Head of School role on July 1, but you will have many opportunities to get to know her before her first official day on the job. Karen is equally excited to become a part of our community and to lead our school in the coming years, and we have attached a letter she has written to the community. In the coming weeks, Karen will be working with the Board and staff, as well as connecting with families so she can hit the ground running this summer. Look for more information to follow with dates and times for community meetings.
This is an incredibly exciting moment for Bellwether. We can’t wait for you all to meet Karen!
The Bellwether Search Committee and Voting Board of Directors
From Karen O'Neill Thomson:
Dear Bellwether School Community,
It is with great excitement and deep gratitude that I accept the position as Head of The Bellwether School. It is an honor and a privilege to be joining a wonderful community that values creating relationships and is dedicated to providing a holistic education for our youngest learners during this most critical stage of their schooling career.
From the moment I started learning about Bellwether, I felt an instant connection. It started with my discovery that the website dedicates a whole page to my long held belief that education is about relationships and the myriad ways we connect to ourselves, others, the world. Next came reading the mission statement which reflects a commitment to meeting children where they are in order to nurture their curiosities, empower them to make choices, and foster kindness, all core values of mine as an educator. Then there is the sunflower… whose color symbolizes vitality, intelligence, and happiness, and whose strength and vibrance proudly are a focal point in my vegetable garden every summer here in southern Vermont. I look forward to collaborating with the many constituencies of The Bellwether School family and to lead this innovative, joyful, and forward-thinking school as we embrace the challenges of today and the limitless opportunities of tomorrow.
I want to thank the Search Committee and the Board for leading the thoughtful search process that afforded me the opportunity to gain a broad glimpse into Bellwether’s programs and learning experiences. Special thanks to the teachers and staff who gave generously of their time, which, of course, speaks volumes about their care and commitment to ensuring the continued success of the school. Throughout the process the Board, teachers, and staff continually demonstrated, with their words and actions, the truth to how “rooted in relationships” this community is, citing often the community of engaged parents, partnering together and with the school to make every child’s learning experience joyful and enriching.
I am eager to lead and work alongside this experienced and dedicated group of teachers who model the importance of life-long learning, continually seeking what is best for students today, tomorrow, and in the future. I look forward to learning alongside each of them. Together, we will continue to blossom and grow: the students, the faculty and staff, the alumni, and all the Bellwether families present and past. Most importantly, we will work to ensure the magic of a Bellwether education endures long into our students’ future. I so look forward to getting to know all of you and getting started on this exciting adventure together.
“Like a single sunbeam on a warm summer day, there is an exuberance and brilliance in a sunflower.” – Unknown
I can’t wait for July!
Morgan Donohue, Board President & Administrative Liaison, Bellwether Parent
Marta Beede, Search Committee Co-Chair, Board Member, 1st Bellwether HOS
Bethany Gibbs, Search Committee Co-Chair, Board Member, Bellwether Parent
Jessica Liggett, Board Secretary, Bellwether Parent
Jen Winegar, Board Treasurer, Former Bellwether Parent
Jenn Lauder, Board Member, Former Bellwether Teacher