Announcement from Head of School Randy Bertin
To the HVF Board of Trustees and the Besant Hill Community,
After careful thought and consideration, I have concluded that this will be my last school year at Besant Hill School of Happy Valley. It is time for me to move on and pass the leadership of our school onto another capable educator. This letter is to officially inform you that I resign from my position as Head of School, effective June 30, 2018.
When I arrived on the Besant Hill School campus on June 24, 2006, I found a community full of heart and a school campus in disrepair. Enrollment was at about 40 students, and fundraising was not occurring. I feel that over the last twelve years I have contributed significantly to improving all of these areas. I leave with enrollment stabilized, fundraising numbers and goals at record levels, and facilities that are conducive to the learning environment we create for students.
This was achieved with hard work, grit, and the collective efforts of every employee at Besant Hill School, in particular the senior administrative team, and Jimmy and Radha Sloss.
Originally, I believed the biggest challenge at the then-named Happy Valley School would stem from a lack of systems and processes. However, I quickly realized that the school name, its recent history, and enrollment competition among local boarding schools would prove to be bigger obstacles. I am proud to say that we have overcome these issues, established many organizational systems and processes, and I pass on a school that is among one of the best small boarding schools in the country. We are strong and more financially stable now than at any other point in our history.
Fortunately, a talented and experienced leadership team has surrounded me during my time as Head of School. This group has refused to settle for anything less than their ambitious goals each year, and often times has burned the “midnight oil” to repeatedly demonstrate excellence in their work for Besant Hill. I am most appreciative for their commitment, support, loyalty, and camaraderie. The school is in excellent and capable hands during this transition.
Personally, I am making my way back to the place from where I came – Massachusetts. I am pleased to have been named the Head of School at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, effective July 1, 2018. Like Besant Hill, Cushing is a student-centered community, and my family is looking forward to this exciting new chapter in our lives.
Besant Hill has been home for Karen and me. We were embraced by the community here, have raised our four boys here, experienced loss and disappointment here, and lived through great joys and victories with members of this community. We will certainly miss this little hill, and I know that a part of me will always be a Coyote and bleed green and blue. I also know that I will always be able to close my eyes and envision the view from the hill near Phoenix Dorm. This campus is magical, and I will remember my time here fondly.
To the many alumni, parents, trustees, students, and especially colleagues whom I have been grateful to meet during the past twelve years, I sincerely thank you — your support, particularly over the past seven years, has been especially meaningful and something I will always treasure. It has been a wonderful journey together.
When I leave, I will do so holding my head high and proud to be “from Besant Hill School.”
I wish you all my best and a successful school year together!
Randy R. Bertin, Ed.D.
Head of School
Announcement from Happy Valley Foundation
Upon the recommendation of a third party service, another Trustee of Besant Hill School of Happy Valley (then “Happy Valley School”) and I met with several people in Massachusetts in order to locate new leadership for the school. At that time, the school was a moderately successful coeducational private boarding school in Upper Ojai, California, primarily catering to students from Los Angeles, San Francisco and South Korea. Over the years, the school had repeated its traditional strategies to maintain its place among similarly situated California schools. Positive change mainly came from periodic accreditation recommendations. The governing Board of Directors (Trustees) sought a more energetic approach to improving the school, rather than merely doing an adequate job in academics and administration.
As a result of our efforts, the school hired, inter alia, Dr. Bertin (Randy) to serve as our Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, then Director of Advancement, and Assistant Head of School for Advancement. By 2011, Randy was selected for the Head of School position. The HOS position at the school is both academic and administrative with supervisorial duties extending to all aspects of school operations, finance, academics, and residential life.
We had made a good choice. Using a proactive approach, Randy either implemented new programs or improved existing programs to positively impact the school’s financial stability, academic quality, and inclusivity for the faculty and student body. Not content with merely guiding slow moving progress, Randy took the lead to improve all aspects of the school, creating the school’s strategic plans, improving development stratagems, and enhancing academic excellence. Through the administration’s prudent planning, innovation, and modernization, the school’s financial health, academic stature, and global inclusion resulted in a full-term 6-year accreditation in 2012, and we anticipate a similar result in this year’s accreditation process, as all major recommendations from the 2012 visit have been completed. In addition, Randy’s higher-energy approach to recruitment and development has improved the school population, academic, artistic, and athletic programs, as well as the creation of additional housing, facilities, and swimming pool complex.
The Happy Valley Foundation are saddened to see Randy move on, although as a practical matter, we knew the day would eventually come. Nevertheless, Randy leaves us with such tremendous improvements in policy and program that his legacy shall live on. We wish him the best of luck in all his endeavors.
Randy will continue to work with the board for the duration of the current academic year and will help facilitate the coming transition and our selection of a new head of school. With his help, and that of the senior administrative team, we are confident this leadership change will be as smooth as possible.
The Happy Valley Foundation continues to consider all possibilities as we contemplate candidates for the HOS position. I will be in communication with updates in the coming weeks. The school has a bright future, and we look forward to a positive outcome from this change in school leadership.
President, Happy Valley Foundation