The Long Ridge School

Head of School Search

Transition Plan 

March 6, 2018

Interim Head of School Announcement 

November 9, 2017

Dear Members of The Long Ridge School Community,

The Board of Trustees is delighted to announce that John Ora will be joining The Long Ridge School on July 1, 2018 as our Interim Head of School for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years.  This unanimous recommendation from the Search Committee and unanimous appointment by the Board is the result of a comprehensive and thorough search in which John distinguished himself from a group of highly qualified and impressive candidates.

Throughout this process John stood out as a talented educator and dedicated administrator with proven success in Preserving core values and Preparing a school community to answer challenging headwinds.  John is also responsible for Propelling a preK-grade 8 school, very similar to Long Ridge, on the path to its greatest and most authentic potential.

John will bring many skills and talents to bear during his tenure as Interim Head of School including an innovator’s mindset that is steeped in sound pedagogy and practical application.  This approach is perfectly aligned with Long Ridge’s progressive educational philosophy and the innate curiosities of young children.

Our community responded very positively to John’s visit, expressing the excitement that was sparked by his ideas and experiences coupled with his warm and welcoming disposition.

We are thrilled to have found an individual who will safeguard our core values, challenge us to advance in service to our purpose, and guide our community through this time of transition.

A Note From John Ora 

I am honored and pleased to be joining The Long Ridge School community as Interim Head of School.  As a school that is both small and progressive by design, LRS fits very well with my professional experience and I am excited about helping it move forward strongly over the next two years.

Having grown up as the child of two college professors, I am a teacher at heart and genuinely enjoy life at school.  The chance to work with talented students in an excellent school carries with it the responsibility for helping them develop the strength of mind and heart they need as they grow and make a difference in the world. 

After almost thirty years teaching and leading for a wide range of independent schools, including nine as the head of Woodland School, I am currently taking a long anticipated break traveling extensively and being with family.  Having successfully worked with an interim head early in my administrative career, exploring that pathway has always been part of my plans.  As we get acquainted, you will find that outside of school, I am an avid cook, traveler, and baseball fan.  I worked my way through college and have a long ago former life as a comedy and music promoter in Seattle.

The Board of Trustees would like to sincerely thank all members of The Long Ridge School community for your commitment to this search process and your invaluable and thoughtful feedback.  We are particularly grateful to my fellow Search Committee members, Guy Bailey, John Black, Christine Costello, Rebecca Fass, David Friedman, Shanti Hageman, Aditi Shrikam, and Rachel Wagle who put in long hours over many months to bring this search to a successful conclusion.

John’s extensive background in and commitment to education and his proven experience helping a school Preserve, Prepare, and Propel is what the Board of Trustees felt was essential in our Interim Head of School, and we are confident that Long Ridge will continue to thrive under his leadership.  We look forward to welcoming John on July 1, 2018.


Becki Fleischer


Board of Trustee

October 13, 2017
Dear Long Ridge School Community,
Next week we will welcome John Ora to The Long Ridge School as a finalist in our
search for an Interim Head of School for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school
years. John will arrive to campus on Monday evening and will be with us
throughout the day on Tuesday. As outlined in our letter to the community last
month, we will welcome three finalists to LRS, with John as the first, to meet with all
constituent groups, providing an opportunity for parents and faculty to get to know
the candidates and share your feedback.
To accommodate as many schedules as possible, we have provided an opportunity
for parents to meet John at two times:
● Monday, October 16 from 7:30-8:30pm in the Main Building Big Room
● Tuesday, October 17 from 9:30-10:30am in the A&A Building
During this time John will provide an overview of his career in education and his
educational philosophy. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions. Please
see below for a summary of John’s qualifications and experience.
Once you have met John, the Search Committee would be grateful if you could
complete a brief survey with your thoughts on him. You can access the survey here
until it closes at 9am on Thursday, October 19.
Thank you for your participation in this critical phase of the search process. We look
forward to seeing you at one of the parent sessions next week.
Warm regards,
~Becki Fleischer
Search Committee Chair


John Ora is a seasoned school leader with experience as a teacher, administrator and
Head in preschool-grade 12 independent schools. From 2007-2016 he served as the
Head of School at the Woodland School in Portola Valley, CA. During his time at
Woodland (preschool-grade 8) he increased enrollment, secured accreditation with
the California Association of Independent Schools and the National Association of
Independent Schools, secured and oversaw construction of facilities, created a
faculty leadership program, enhanced curriculum, and founded a culture of
philanthropy from scratch.
Before moving to California, John was the Head of Middle School at Princeton Day
School in Princeton, NJ; Assistant Head of School and Science Department Chair at
Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, CO; and Science Department Chair and
Physics and Chemistry Teacher at The Community School in Sun Valley, ID.
John has completed doctoral coursework in Educational Leadership at Teachers
College, Columbia University; holds a Master of Arts in Educational Administration,
Policy and Analysis from Stanford University; teaching credential from the
University of Washington; and a BS in Biology from Seattle University.
He has engaged in numerous professional development opportunities and has
received a number of awards and achievements, notably a Klingenstein Fellowship
from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Head of School Search Update

September 12, 2017
Dear Long Ridge School Community,

Welcome back and Happy 80th Anniversary to The Long Ridge School!  If you are new to our community, we welcome you and look forward to sharing in the wonders and joys of childhood with you and your children.  You are in a special place and it is our most sincere hope that your experience at The Long Ridge School is as meaningful and fulfilling as ours has been.

On behalf of the Search Committee, I am delighted to share this update on the status of the Interim Head of School search with all of you.  In our June update to the community we shared the themes, Preserve, Prepare, Propel, that emerged during community engagement sessions with Bob Fricker, our Head of School search consultant with Carney Sandoe & Associates.  Using this as our guide, our priority throughout this search process is to identify a candidate who will:

  • Preserve the sacred nature of childhood, the ability of teachers to address individual student needs, and the inclusivity of parents.
  • Prepare our community for a new chapter after the 29-year tenure of our Head of School.
  • Propel LRS forward with a clear and defined value proposition that is aligned with our core values while answering the demands of demographics that are driving change in independent schools across the country.  

With this in mind, throughout the spring and early summer, Bob conducted an extensive search for qualified candidates to serve as our Interim Head of School for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years.  As outlined in our June update, interim leadership is a very specialized field in education and Bob was able to identify a number of very attractive candidates from this specific niche with the experience and leadership qualities that we are looking for.  

The committee reviewed the credentials of this impressive group and invited four highly qualified individuals to interview.  After we completed our interviews and reference checks, the committee unanimously agreed on three finalists.  The last phase of this process will be to bring the finalists to LRS in October so they can meet with all constituent groups, providing an opportunity for you to get to know the candidates and share your feedback and impressions with the Search Committee.

All parents are invited to meet the finalists in open forums with each candidate.   We have scheduled two parent forums for each visit to accommodate as many schedules as possible and we hope that you are able to attend at least one session for each finalist.   Please mark your calendars with the dates and times below so you are able to participate in these forums, an important step in the search process.  

  • Finalist Visit 1:    Monday, October 16 from 7:30-8:30pm
  • Tuesday, October 17 from 9:30-10:30am


  • Finalist Visit 2:    Monday, October 23 from 7:30-8:30pm
  • Tuesday, October 24 from 9:30-10:30am


  • Finalist Visit 3:    Monday, October 30 from 7:30-8:30pm
  • Tuesday, October 31 from 9:30-10:30am


A few days prior to each visit, we will send you information about the candidate, as well as a link to a confidential survey where you can provide your feedback to the Search Committee.  Your input, along with further reference calls and a final interview with committee members, will help the Search Committee make an informed recommendation to the Board for its review and approval.  

We look forward to having the finalists on campus and your participation in this important process.  If you have any questions please reach out to a member of the Search Committee or directly to me at [email protected].

Warm regards,

~Becki Fleischer

Search Committee Chair



Head of School Search Update

June 5, 2017

Dear Long Ridge School Community,

On behalf of the entire Search Committee, thank you to everyone who came out to meet with Bob Fricker, our Head of School search consultant, during his visit in April. Bob was impressed with the passion and commitment of everyone with whom he met at LRS.  In order to gather additional feedback, Bob also issued a survey that was completed by a large number of parents, teachers, alumni, alumni families, and friends of the school.  We appreciate the time and care that our school community has taken to ensure that we have the necessary information as we move forward to the next chapter for The Long Ridge School.

From Bob’s meetings with parents, administrators, teachers and trustees and his review of the survey, three themes emerged that we will use to guide our efforts going forward: Preserve, Prepare, Propel. 

 Throughout Bob’s visit and in the survey, the LRS community revealed that its top priority is to preserve the core values that have shaped and defined the experiences for our children, our teachers and our parents.  There was a shared commitment to protecting the sacred nature of childhood, the ability of teachers to address individual student needs, and the inclusivity of parents as true partners in the learning process.

While holding firm to those inviolable tenets, Bob’s visit clarified that we must also prepare our community for a new chapter.  Even the best changes can bring a level of uncertainty and instability, especially for a school like ours that has benefited from an uninterrupted 28-year tenure of our Head of School.  As a community, we need to prepare for the future so that we can propel LRS forward with a clear and defined value proposition that is aligned with our core values while answering the demands of demographics that are driving change in independent schools across the country.

We are confident that LRS can balance these themes and emerge as the preferred early and elementary school for families in the greater Fairchester area.  In recognition of the challenges all schools face in transitioning from long serving leadership, Bob has recommended to the Board of Trustees (a recommendation that they have approved) that we focus our search efforts on finding an interim Head of School who will serve at LRS for a period of 2-years as we prepare our community for a permanent change in leadership.  This is very often the course of action taken by schools going through a leadership transition after a long serving Head.

Interim leadership is a very specialized field in education. Interim Heads are experienced, successful administrators who have a wealth of school experience in their background.  They are very often, though not always, a retired Head of School.  Interims provide seasoned decision-making skills focused on current needs and based on an understanding of both the school’s past and its future.  At LRS, we will be looking for an interim who:

  • has a strong background in early and elementary education;
  • who can serve as an articulate ambassador for LRS in the greater Fairchester area to attract new students;
  • is excellent at building relationships with students and parents as well as supporting and encouraging our teachers; and
  • brings a strategic mindset to help us prepare for our future.

The process for identifying an interim Head is similar to the process for finding a permanent Head of School.  The Search Committee will continue to work with Bob, and parents, teachers, administrators and trustees will all have the opportunity to meet with candidates to provide their feedback.

Both the Board of Trustees and Search Committee members are confident that this is a positive development in our process and will yield a good outcome for our community.  We look forward to keeping you apprised of the process when we are back on campus this fall.  In the meantime, if you have any questions please reach out to a member of the Search Committee or a Trustee.  We would be happy to speak with you.

Warm regards,

Becki Fleischer

Search Committee Chair

Community Questionnaire

April 13, 2017

Dear Long Ridge School Community:

This week we welcomed Bob Fricker, our search consultant from Carney Sandoe & Associates, to The Long Ridge School campus.  This invaluable time on our campus provided Mr. Fricker with insights about what makes our school community so special.

Bob’s visit has already insured us of a comprehensive, inclusive, and diverse set of views about the school, which we will use in further refining our criteria in the selection process for our next head.  Now we are asking faculty, parents, former parents, trustees, and alumni/ae for additional feedback using an online survey.  The results of this survey will help round out the information Bob gathered during in-person sessions and will be very useful to the process.

The survey should take 10-15 minutes to complete and will remain open until the end of the day, Sunday, April 23.  At the bottom of the survey you will have an opportunity to nominate any educator known to you who might be a good fit for us.  All responses are both confidential and anonymous, and go directly to Bob who will consolidate the feedback and use it to insure we have considered all points of view from our key constituents.

The Search Committee is deeply grateful for your participation in this process and we expect to keep you apprised over the next months through announcements and the school’s website of the important milestones in the search process.

To complete the survey, please click here.

Warm regards,
Becki Fleischer
Search Committee Chair


Search Committee Announced 

March 9, 2017

Dear Members of The Long Ridge School Community,

Last month Kris and the Board of Trustees announced that we would be searching for a new Head of School who will begin at the start of the 2018-2019 school year.  In her letter to the community, Board Chair, Aditi Shrikam, shared that the Board had organized an initial search committee with me serving as its chair.  I am pleased to provide you with the first of what will be many updates on our progress.

After reviewing proposals and speaking with a number of search firms, the Board has retained Carney Sandoe & Associates to assist us in this process.  The firm is nationally recognized and has particular expertise in senior level appointments at independent schools.  Our consultant from Carney Sandoe & Associates, Bob Fricker, a Stamford native and former Trustee of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), has led over 100 searches in our area and across the country.   He is also a former independent school teacher and Head with a keen understanding of small, progressive schools like LRS.

The important work of recruiting the next Head of School will be bolstered by strong community participation and input.  To that end, I am pleased to announce that Mr. Fricker will visit LRS to get to know our school community on Wednesday, April 12 and Thursday, April 13.  These two days of meetings with LRS parents, teachers, administrators and trustees will give Bob a deeper understanding of our school’s culture and philosophy as well as a vision for its future.  Initial plans include one evening session and one after-drop-off session for parents.  The detailed schedule for his visit is being developed and will be shared in the weeks immediately following spring break.

Coinciding with his visit in April, Bob will administer an online community survey to solicit further input.  Based on the feedback collected during his visit and from the survey, Bob and the Search Committee will develop a profile of the qualities that our school seeks in its next leader, and we will spend the next months recruiting and screening candidates. Finalists will visit LRS in the fall, and there will be opportunities for our LRS community to meet with candidates as part of their interview processes and to provide feedback on each finalist.  We expect to announce the selection of a new Head of School by the end of 2017, and he/she will begin July 1, 2018.

To accomplish all of this work, a Search Committee of trustees, faculty and parents has been established to ensure a thorough and inclusive process.  I am pleased to announce the members:

Becki Fleischer, Trustee  (Liz, LRS graduate and Asa, 5th grade)
Aditi Shrikam, Trustee (Om, 5th grade and Dev, 2nd grade)
Guy Bailey, Trustee (former LRS Head of School, Andrew, LRS graduate)
David Friedman, Trustee (Marissa and Josh, LRS graduates)
Rebecca Fass, K-1 Teacher (Daniel, LRS graduate)
Rachel Wagle, 2-3 Teacher
Shanti Hageman, Parent (James, Kindergarten and Floyd, Nursery)
John Black, Parent (Dan, 2nd grade and Eva, Kindergarten)
Christine Costello, Director of Admissions and Marketing (Charlie, Kindergarten)

As we go through this process we will be looking for someone who will uphold the core values that make our community unique and who will build on Kris’s legacy while taking us strongly into the future.

We welcome any questions or suggestions you may have regarding this process.  Please feel free to contact me at [email protected].  Periodic updates regarding the search will be shared via email.

The Search Committee, the Board of Trustees, and Carney Sandoe & Associates are extremely confident that the outstanding faculty and staff, academic excellence, and enthusiastic students and families at LRS will attract candidates of stature and respect for a very successful appointment.


Becki Fleischer

Search Committee Chair

Leadership Announcement

February 16, 2017

Dear Trustees,

I am writing to confirm plans that the 2017-2018 school year will be my last as Head of The Long Ridge School, coinciding with our 80th year celebration. My forty-year association with the school, half its lifetime, has truly been one of the great joys of my life. It has been an honor to be the longest serving LRS Head and lead a school that has always valued each child as a creative, curious, and unique individual and learner well into the 21st Century.

When I discovered and chose the perfect school for my perfect three-year-old in 1977, I never imagined that my role as parent would expand to become one of teacher, Assistant Head, and Head of School! The Long Ridge School has changed and grown in countless ways over the years. During my tenure, three major capital campaigns, “Raise the Roof,” “Library, Science, and Classroom,” and “Building Dreams,” led to the substantial renovations and additions to the school that have enhanced and allowed us to expand our programs. The Michael G. Harris Arts and Athletics Center finally provided a showcase for our impressive visual and performing arts and physical education programs as well as a beautiful space for community events. We also added our Beginners Program for two-year-olds, focused our efforts as experts in early childhood and elementary education, expanded after-school programming, and created and expanded our technology curriculum as the field developed.

Our motto at Long Ridge is “We are all friends in school.” It has been my privilege and joy to work and be friends with extraordinary students, teachers and staff, parents, and families. LRS is very fortunate, indeed, to be the school that so many outstanding teachers have chosen for their careers. I am deeply grateful to the parents who have selected LRS for their children’s early educations and then devoted their time, energy, enthusiasm, and resources to support the school. The strong Long Ridge School community is a gift to all.

During my years as Head of School at LRS, we have strived to stay true to the vision laid out by our founder, Harriet Rowland, while blazing new trails in a rapidly changing world. I know that the Board and faculty are committed to preserving the core values that are foundational to our mission and characterize our community. I am committed to working as hard as ever for the school I love during this and next school year, when, “The time has come to say ‘good-bye,’” as we sing at the end of every Assembly.  I look forward to working with the Board and entire school community to ensure a smooth transition and strong future for The Long Ridge School as the next Head of School is chosen.

Kris Bria
Head of School

February 16, 2017

Dear Members of The Long Ridge School Community,

As you have read in her letter to trustees, Kris has confirmed plans with the Board of Trustees that the next school year will be her last as Head of The Long Ridge School.  Though inadequate as the words may be, Kris will be greatly missed by students, families, faculty, and staff, and we are deeply indebted to her for the many years of extraordinary service to our school.

The expansive reach of Kris’s success at Long Ridge can be seen and felt everywhere you look: in the excellence of the school’s teachers; the diversity of our community; the beauty of our campus; and the sheer joy found in the hallways, the classrooms, and on the playground. At the center of it all is her fierce loyalty to and protection of childhood and all that it should entail.  With great care and keen insight, Kris has preserved the wonder and awe of learning while pacing change to respond to the academic needs of the 21st Century.

In her time as Head, Kris has overseen the graduation of nearly 275 students.  Because of her leadership and dedication to education, as well as her love of children and childhood, every student has left LRS as the very best version of him or herself, passionate and well prepared for his or her next chapter.  Kris’s accomplishments and impact over her illustrious career at LRS are far too many to encompass in this letter, but as a board and as a community we look forward to celebrating them all during the 80th Anniversary festivities next year.

One of the most important responsibilities of the Board is the selection of the new Head of School.  As we identify our next leader, we will be looking for someone to uphold the core values that make our community unique and who will be as dedicated to and love LRS as much as Kris has. We also want someone whose vision is focused on the next 10 to 20 years and can help guide us there.  To achieve these goals, the Board has organized an initial search committee, with trustee Becki Fleischer serving as its chair. The search committee will expand to include additional trustees, faculty members and parents, ensuring a thorough and inclusive process. In the coming weeks and months, you can expect regular updates about the search process, as well as opportunities to engage in robust discussions.

The Board of Trustees is united in its optimism and confidence in the School’s future, aligned to the mission and values that define our unique community. As we prepare for change in the near future, we can take comfort in knowing that Kris’s leadership will continue during the 2017-2018 academic year. She and the Board of Trustees pledge to ensure a seamless transition as we continue to focus on operational and strategic initiatives to strengthen and improve the School.

I trust that you will join the Board of Trustees in expressing our heartfelt gratitude and best wishes to Kris and her family.

Aditi Shrikam
President, Board of Trustees
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