The Norwich Free Academy Board of Trustees tonight appointed Dr. Brian M. Kelly as the next Head of School, replacing David Klein whose last day is June 30.
Kelly currently serves as the General Director of Colegio Granadino, a school of more than 900 students from Pre-k to grade 12 in Manizales, Colombia. Kelly, who has been in that role for three years, oversees a leadership team of nearly 10 and more than 200 faculty and staff.
“Now more than ever, the future brings many challenges, and we need someone with proven leadership and experience, new ideas, youthful energy and a desire to be a part of our community. We have found that in Brian Kelly,” said DeVol Joyner, chair of the NFA Board of Trustees. “The Board is confident we have found a transformative leader to help NFA reach new heights by embracing a new approach while preserving the traditions important to the Academy.”
“It is truly an honor to be appointed as the next Head of School for Norwich Free Academy,” Kelly said. “From the very beginning of the process, I was drawn to the unique nature of the school governance and commitment to a culturally diverse and inclusive community. It was my time on campus, however, that truly captivated me. Even with students absent, it was clear that John P. Gulliver’s commitment to education and culture is still flourishing more than 160 years after the school’s founding. With each group of people that I had the pleasure of meeting, the sense of community became more and more apparent. Without a doubt, NFA is the ideal place for me and my family.”
Joyner said Kelly is scheduled to start July 15.
At Colegio Granadino, Kelly developed and implemented the school’s strategic plan, which included a major facilities expansion, a school remodel and the purchase and development of a new high school site. His school-wide literacy plan led to a 30% increase in test scores, a 33% increase in overall reading levels and consistent improvement on student assessments.
Joyner praised Kelly for his success in enhancing student performance.
“Brian is innovative and he brings the skills necessary to lead NFA to the next level,” Joyner said. “He has also had real success with faculty recruitment and training, technology and he has a track record of building strong relationships both in school and in the community.”
Prior to his current position, Kelly served as a middle school principal in Cali, Colombia, for seven years. He has also held educational leadership positions in Greece and the Republic of Korea. Kelly has also taught at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Prior to entering the classroom, he worked in educational fundraising at the University of Nevada, Reno, which is where he completed his undergraduate schooling.
“One of the things we are most excited about with Brian is his ability to understand and embrace the diversity of our campus and our community,” Joyner said. “We are confident that we have found a transformative leader for our school who will become an integral member of the community as a whole.”
Said Kelly, “With my background in working in incredibly diverse communities, I believe I am uniquely qualified to lead NFA into its very bright future. I understand the ‘difference makers’ in schools are people and not programs. Together, we will continue to cultivate the strong bonds that exist in the NFA community and promote a student-centered environment where all students are important and each and every one is successful.”
Kelly, who is bilingual, holds a doctorate in Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development from the University of Minnesota. His Master of Education, Administration and Supervision is from the University of Phoenix.
“I look forward to joining the NFA team, and I see this as much more than a job,” said Kelly. “It is an opportunity to join a special community and truly make a difference.”
Kelly, 48, is married with two children.
In addition, the Board also authorized a restructure of Academy leadership, creating a new Director of Operations position. Kristin Peckrul, principal of the Shattuck House, was appointed to that position effective July 1.
“The Board is confident that Kristin will succeed in this new role,” said Joyner. “Her extensive experience at NFA will prove invaluable to our new Head of School.”
The search for a new Head of School began in earnest in January when NFA partnered with Carney Sandoe and Associates, a leading international educational search firm. Finalists were determined in early April.
“Given the times we are in, this process went incredibly well, and it was extremely competitive,” said Joyner. “We had an incredibly talented pool of candidates from which to consider, with each of our three finalists having doctorate degrees. While the process may have been a bit different in this environment, the Board is confident in the result.”
Joyner acknowledged and thanked the search committee established to guide the process. Beside himself, members included Steve Bokoff, Betsy Conway, David Kalla, Denise Lindell and Todd Postler.