Head of School Search


Thank you for your interest in our school.  We invite you to browse this brochure to learn more about our school, community and the Pioneer Valley region.


Mission Statement

Diversity Statement

Retirement Announcement letter from Susan Swift, Head of School

To our MSN family

It is with a myriad of emotions that I am writing today to let you know that when my contract with the school ends in 2017, I will be retiring from MSN.  It has been an honor to lead this community, but it is time to pass that honor on to a fresh face who will lead our school into its next plane of development.

When I first became the Head of School, we were a school of two Children’s House classrooms totaling forty children on a triangular lot. That first year was quite a year for me both personally and professionally.  By the end of the year we broke ground to add an elementary program (now Children’s House III ) and my husband and I welcomed our daughter!  We started that following September with a full Children’s House and 4 Lower Elementary students.

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Message from Elizabeth Dunaway, President, board of Trustees

To Our School Community,

I know that it must have been a surprise to many of you that after more than 20 years of leadership and dedicated service to our school Susan Swift has announced her retirement. She will finish out her current contract and wrap-up her tenure at MSN in June of 2017.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to gratefully acknowledge Susan’s tireless efforts to guide MSN through many transitions. Under her direction, what was a two-room Children’s House program serving 40 children has grown into the vibrant school that we currently have: seven robust classrooms serving over 120 children, ages 2-12, with a middle school opening its doors in the fall. These programmatic expansions have done more than help financially stabilize MSN. Susan’s vision has created an institution that incorporates Maria Montessori’s vision of supporting inquisitive self-directed learners and educating the “whole person.” We are a school that follows a child from toddlerhood through early adolescence in an engaging, peaceful and encouraging environment. Susan has successfully served our mission and steered the school to this moment and now it is time to embrace change and continue her good work.

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The Head of School Search Committee

Dear Parents,

Following Susan’s retirement announcement, the Board of Trustees formed a Head of School Search Committee, populated by four staff members at MSN and three trustees.  Our charge is to manage the search process and to recommend candidates to the entire Board.

We are currently gathering information and developing materials and procedures for the search.  We are seeking your input through surveys and forums.  We will also be working with the Board to develop a job description as well as a job advertisement, which will be circulated nationally.

In the following months, we will begin the selection process to bring in several qualified candidates.  Our plan is to conduct in-person interviews with our top-ranked candidates in the early fall of 2016.  Throughout this process, we will be seeking your input. The members of the Search Committee are as follows:

Matt Anderson (Montessori Educator- Children’s House)
Sarah Carlan (School Counselor)
Elizabeth Dunaway (Board President)
Laura Frogameni (Director of Admissions)
Johanna Greenough (Montessori Educator – Elementary)
Anthony Paik (Chair, Board member)
Debra Thompson (Board member)

Our greatest hope is that we will be able to attract and hire an exceptional successor who can take up the mantle of Susan’s leadership, vision, and legacy.  We will seek to do our very best to make this transition smooth and to gather comments and opinions from every part of our community.

If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please feel free to pull us aside in person or contact us at hossearch@northamptonmontessori.org.


Anthony Paik

News and updates to the search process

  • Head of School Hiring Announcement

    Dear MSN community,

    After months of working together the Head of School Search Committee is excited and proud to announce that Mark Dansereau has been offered and has accepted the Headship at our school beginning Summer 2017.

    I want to take this opportunity to thank those of you who joined us during the site visit days. Your observations and feedback helped to inform our decision.

    The search committee conducted a thorough nationwide search and upheld recommendations from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS.) We consulted hiring firms and other resources from the independent school world as needed during our search process.

    Mark brings with him nearly 30 years of educational experience, much of it within the Montessori pedagogy.  He is currently the Director of the Middle School program at The Montessori School in Wilton, CT. Mark was a Co-Head of school for nearly 10 years and a Head of School at that same institution for one year.

    With the support of the Board of Trustees we feel confident that Mark will uphold the values of our Montessori school and will confidently guide us into the future by:

    • Leading our school with clear, calm energy, and intelligence
    • Exciting and challenging teachers and staff with his depth of Montessori understanding and significant experience in faculty and staff support in his previous post
    • Inspiring and centering our community with his focused, hardworking manner
    • Handling difficult situations and supporting families with compassion
    • Navigating institutional change with a seeking heart and a launchpad of prior experience in diversity & equity matters and outreach

    Here is a note from Mark:

    Dear Members of the Montessori School of Northampton Community,

     I am honored and excited to be joining you as head of school starting next summer.  I am humbled to follow Susan Swift and be part of MSN’s now 40+ year history. I look forward to meeting and getting to know you all, to learning about MSN’s lived identity and mission, to rolling up my sleeves and taking up the big work…with the excellent school board, the can do anything required administration, the talented and dedicated faculty…your children. 

     My wife Helen and I are excited to come to our educational homes.  I was born in Worcester and started my formal education in kindergarten in Granby, never to leave school since!  Helen was a Latin American literature major at Smith College and uses her fluency in Spanish every day in the emergency room at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.  Her enthusiasm for our move back to the Pioneer Valley bolsters my confidence in the right fit of this big life change for the both of us.

     The Head of School Search Committee and all the members of the MSN community that I met on my two-day visit to the school in November, especially the children and young adolescents, were so generous and welcoming, open and thoughtful about matters great and small at the Montessori School of Northampton.  It is clear MSN is a school that has its rudder deep in the water regarding how it serves the growth and well-being of its children…its reason for being.

     While I am fully engaged in my responsibilities at my current school for the next six months, I look forward to getting a running start learning more about MSN, its history, the hopes and aspirations of its stakeholders, news of the opening of your new building/campus. I expect to be in close contact with members of the school community over the coming months as a designated transition committee deems appropriate. 

     All the best,


    I invite you to join me, and our committee, in warmly welcoming Mark and his wife Helen to our school and community.

    My very best and happy holidays to you and your families,

    Kelly Minton

    Chair, Head of School Search Committee

  • Head of School Search Committee – New Chair Announcement

    Dear Parents,

    As phase one of the Head of School search begins to wind down, I am excited to tell you that I will be joining the committee for the projects final two phases. On July 1st I will take over for Tony Paik as Chair. I look forward to working with each of you as the new Head of School selection process continues to unfold.

    The committee, listed below, has successfully created a solid platform to attract highly qualified candidates for this position. I will work hard to complete the vision set forth by Tony and the committee. The search process is on track and we begin in-person interviews fall of 2016 with the final hiring phase in 2017.

    If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please feel free to pull us aside in person or contact us at hossearch@northamptonmontessori.org.

    My very best,

    Kelly Minton

    Head of School Search Comittee Members:

    Matt Anderson, Montessori Educator- Children’s House
    Sarah Carlan, School Counselor
    Elizabeth Dunaway, Board President
    Laura Frogameni, Director of Admissions
    Johanna Greenough, Montessori Educator – Elementary
    Kelly Minton, Chair, Board member
    Debra Thompson, Board member

  • News from the Head of School Search April 2016

    News from the Head of School Search Committee, April 2016

    Thank you for participating in the recent Head of School Search online survey.  Your input yielded valuable feedback for the committee as we craft the job posting and search process.

    Your top five rankings are for preferred experience with:

    1. Montessori education
    2. as a Head of School
    3. managing a staff of 30+
    4. administrative experience
    5. managing a budget of 1.5 million dollars

    Your top ten rankings for skills are in:

    1. communicating with parents
    2. hiring and managing staff
    3. promoting academic excellence
    4. building community
    5. fundraising
    6. developing a strong administrative team
    7. implementing organizational change
    8. providing support to teachers
    9. budgeting
    10. promoting diversity

    We will continue to update you on the search progress and timeline.  In between updates, please visit the Head of School Search section of our website www.northamptonmontessori.org/head-of-school-search/.   Direct communication with the Search Committee is welcome.  Email


  • Head of School Search Forum #2 Friday March 11

    Friday March 11 – 8:45 to 10:00 am

    Morning meeting for parents to give their feedback on the Head of School search. Refreshments will be served.


  • Head of School Search Forum #1 Monday March 7

    Monday March 7 – 5:30 to 7:00 pm

    The first of two meetings for parents to give their feedback for the Head of School search. The event will be hosted by the Board’s Head of School Search Committee with Sarah Carlan, School Counselor, serving as moderator.

    Childcare and pizza will be provided. Please pre-registration for childcare. You may sign up on the front bulletin board. Drop ins are also welcome.