As Board President, there are letters that you hope you won’t have to write during your term! Nevertheless, I am writing to let you know that Alan Smiley has chosen to make the 2018-2019 school year his last year as Head of School at St. Anne’s. Speaking on behalf of the Board, we are saddened to lose such a talented and beloved figure, but we respect Alan’s decision and know, as always, that he has the school’s absolute best interests in mind. To say that Alan will be missed is an understatement, but I take comfort in knowing that we have a full school year of his leadership ahead of us.
Given the breadth of his accomplishments at St. Anne’s, it’s hard to even know where to start thanking Alan. Perhaps the most tangible way is to look around at the physical changes our school has undergone during his leadership. When Alan first came to St. Anne’s in 2005, it was a very different place. The majority of our current families won’t remember a time when the lower school classrooms were double-wide trailers, the lunch room was a kitchen-less space that could accommodate no more than a handful of students, school plays were held on make-shift stages, outdoor assemblies took place on a concrete pad, and our dedicated maintenance staff had to make do with very few resources.
Thanks to Alan’s leadership and the generosity of our community, these are all distant memories. Alan was instrumental in every phase of the campus transformation. His guidance and belief in our community to begin these projects in 2008 (a time of great financial uncertainty) enabled St. Anne’s to build the new lower school, dining and performance hall, maintenance facility, outdoor classroom, and amphitheater.
Given all the effort a campus expansion requires, it’s especially impressive that Alan also simultaneously led the efforts to significantly grow both the annual fundraising as well as the endowment at St. Anne’s, the crucial vehicle that provides long-term fiscal security for the school. It is due to this foresight that the school can devote more dollars than ever to causes such as financial aid and faculty development.
Yet, even with all his contributions to the physical and financial growth of St. Anne’s, I would argue that the overarching leadership Alan provides throughout the school will be his lasting legacy. During the past twelve years, Alan has led the charge on numerous programmatic enhancements, including the expansion of the drama department, the middle school Innovations program, and a complete update to the curriculum. It’s impressive to think that sixty percent of our wonderful faculty and staff were hired by Alan during his time here. He certainly has an eye for talent.
Alan’s calm, caring, and steady leadership has guided us through every challenge. His empathy and grace have helped cushion us through unimaginable tragedies, and his keen sense of humor and genuine love for our community have helped to amplify the joyous times. Alan is the true embodiment of the St. Anne’s spirit, and countless families are better off for having him in their lives. No letter thanking Alan for his dedication would be complete without a special note of appreciation to Kyra, his wife of 30 years. Alan will be the first to tell you that he owes a big part of his success to Kyra, not only at St. Anne’s, but in all aspects of his life. As a community, we are exceedingly grateful to Kyra for all she has contributed to St. Anne’s, and we have been blessed to have her as a beacon in our community.
It will come as no surprise that Alan has done everything in his power to prepare the school for a successful transition. Prior to his departure in June 2019, we anticipate the long-awaited improvements to St. Anne’s in the Hills will be complete, our re-certification with the Association of Colorado Independent Schools will be finalized, and a new lower school head will be firmly in place with a year under Alan’s guidance. Having completed these long-term goals, Alan will have put the school on solid footing for the new leadership to step in and hit the ground running.
Upon hearing of Alan’s plans, the Board of Trustees formed a search committee and hired a national search firm to find our next Head of School. As we move forward in this process, we will continue to share information with the community. The Board and the search firm strongly believe that this will be a highly attractive and competitive position with no shortage of qualified candidates.
Alan has led St. Anne’s through a truly remarkable period in our history. He will leave big shoes for his successor to fill, but he has laid a solid foundation for someone new to forge their own path. While there will be time to properly celebrate Alan next year, on behalf of a grateful community, I would once again like to thank Alan for all that he has done, and for allowing us one more year of his leadership.
March 1, 2018
After considerable soul-searching and with very mixed emotions, I am writing today to officially inform the Board of Trustees and you that the 2018-2019 school year will be my last as the Head of School at St. Anne’s Episcopal School. Words simply cannot express the depth and breadth of gratitude Kyra, my children, and I feel for the life-changing past twelve years as a part of this community. The St. Anne’s family helped raise my children into admirable young adults, provided life-long friendships for Kyra and me, and afforded me the honor and privilege to work with some of the finest teachers, staff and administrators in the nation. These educators have always been the special foundation and unique strength of St. Anne’s, and it has been my remarkable joy to know and learn from them over these years. I have also been privileged to be associated with the finest Board chairs, trustees, alumni, parents and, of course, children anywhere. My time at St. Anne’s has been and continues to be one of the greatest blessings of my life.
After thirteen years, however, I believe it will be time for the school to embrace new vision and leadership. We will have completed two comprehensive and transformational strategic plans, and the school will have finalized our required self-study and hosted a visiting team from the Association of Colorado Independent Schools for reaccreditation. St. Anne’s is a more than healthy school by every possible measure, and the institution will be poised to continue its remarkable growth and improvement into the future with the development of new goals and directions. The school deserves to have a leader in place at this stage with the longevity and new perspectives to help shape that vision and see this new work to ultimate success.
On a personal front, our youngest child, Brooke, will have graduated from high school and will be journeying forth into the larger world. As “empty nesters,” it seems to be a fitting time for Kyra and me to explore new adventures together. I have always wished to leave every community I have been blessed to join feeling like I didn’t overstay my effectiveness or value. After thirteen years here, I think June of 2019 will be that time.
I know some might ask, what then is next? The first and most important answer is another year and a half of inspiring, energizing, and vital work on behalf of our St. Anne’s students, teachers, staff, and community. I don’t think anyone who has ever known me would say I am one to coast to a finish line, and I have no intention of doing so now! We have much still to accomplish and important places where we can grow, and I remain blessed to be surrounded by a community of people dedicated to fulfilling our mission and serving children. I am also dedicated to doing my part to ensure a smooth and successful transition for the next blessed individual fortunate enough to lead this school.
After that, I’m not certain what the future holds for Kyra and me. Certainly trying to find some time to give back to my family is high on my list, but what professional pursuits arise are yet to be discovered. We are confident, however, that the appropriate next door will open in the future. I am even more confident that St. Anne’s will be an extremely appealing and exciting opportunity for any number of talented educators around the world. There simply is not a finer school to join, and I know the Board will find a terrific (and lucky) new leader after an appropriate process.
I’ll close with a thank you, but not a goodbye, as we still have valuable time together ahead. I have had the great fortune of unparalleled Board-chair support over the years from Tim Gardner, Dan Seff, Stacy McHugh and now you. Our trustees are models of good governance and selfless generosity on behalf of the school. Our teachers and staff love their work, care deeply about children, and bring incredible talent and goodwill to their pursuits every single day. Our parents, alumni parents, and alumni remain an unsurpassed source of support, collaboration, and dedication. I offer my deepest thanks and unending gratitude to each and every one of them, and I look forward to the gift of the next year and a half together.