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O.J. Morgan to Retire in 2021

Head of School O.J. Morgan announced in November 2019 his plans to retire at the end of the 2020-21 school year. The Board of Trustees selected Carney, Sandoe & Associates to guide the search process, and consultants Barbara Daush and Charlie Britton were assigned to work with the school.

The board appointed a search committee with representatives from each stakeholder group, and a faculty advisory committee was named to assist the search committee. Candidates were narrowed over the summer, and semifinalist visits were made to school in August. The semifinalists met with the search committee, board of trustees and faculty advisory committee. 

The two finalists visited school in early September. They toured school, visited with administrators, and held open Q&A sessions attended by faculty and staff. 

The search committee made a recommendation to the board, and the board voted in September to hire Kristin Watts as the next head of school.

O.J. Morgan

Head of School
Phone: 423-305-6462

Joined Bright staff in 2004
B.A., Colby College 
M.A.T., Northwestern University
M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School

Meet Future Head of School Kristin Watts

Mrs. Watts will be the 13th head of school at Bright School, which was founded in 1913 by progressive educator Mary G. Bright. Her husband, Jay, is the athletic director at GPS. Their daughter, Colby, will be a student at Bright School next year, and her stepson, Campbell, is in high school.

Mrs. Watts will join the administration in summer 2021.

Leadership

Search Committee

Co-Chairs: Julie Guerry, immediate past board chair and past parent, and Betsey Kates, current board member and parent.

Blair Cannon – current board member and parent. 
Allison Cromie ’84 – current board member, parent and alumna. 
Chris Curtis – current board member and parent.
Ashley Davenport - current parent.
Thankful Davis - art teacher and current parent.
Scotty Jones – current board member and current Middle School Principal at McCallie School.
Mary Kilbride - former board member and past parent.
Barry Large – current board member and parent.
Lucy Sawrie - incoming president of the Parents’ Association and parent.
Starlet Speakman - former chair of board and former Assistant Head/Principal of the Lower School at GPS.

Faculty Advisory Committee

Rachel Blanton, school counselor
Rachel Berger, JPK
Katie Shirley, PK
Bill Greene, Kindergarten
Karen Smith, first grade
MacKenzie Taylor, second grade
Cindy Womack, third grade
Amanda Angel, fourth grade
Matt Lauer, fifth grade

Search News

Head of School Announcement September 30, 2020

Dear Bright School Community,

“Miss Bright’s personal involvement with each child and each parent was a part of the cornerstone of a Bright School education.” -- Jasper A. Reynolds Jr. ‘50.

This can be said about our current head, O.J. Morgan, and the indelible mark he has made on our Bright School. As we look back at Miss Bright’s passion to make sure every child received a quality well-rounded education, and we see the same love for education of the whole child in Mr. Morgan, we must look forward.

It is an honor to welcome Kristin Baty Watts as the 13th head of Bright School. Mrs. Watts possesses the same traits: a love for education, a passion for children, and a commitment to make sure every student is instilled with a knowledge and understanding that sets them up for success in the future.

Mrs. Watts comes to Bright School from St. Anne’s Day School in Atlanta, Georgia, with an understanding of curriculum and philosophy of educating the contemporary whole child. Her knowledge of early childhood education and experience in development, admissions, management, and operations in an independent school environment are a few of the many talents that show Mrs. Watts is the ideal appointment as the next head of our beloved school.

"I am incredibly honored to join the Bright School community. I was struck during my visits by the dedication and positivity of the faculty and staff and cannot wait to begin this exciting journey with you all this summer," Mrs. Watts said. "The Bright School has built a strong reputation both within the Chattanooga area and beyond. I look forward to continuing to honor the strong foundation of the school along with the forward thinking necessary to evolve in the ways that we help students become wise and compassionate citizens of the world."

We owe a great deal of thanks and gratitude to our search committee, led by Betsey Kates and Julie Guerry, who spent countless hours interviewing and vetting numerous candidates, fulfilling with integrity a complete process to find someone of Mrs. Watts's talents to lead us in the future. We appreciate the thoughtful feedback from the faculty advisory committee that informed and guided our decision.

As we honor our retiring head, Mr. Morgan, and we welcome Mrs. Watts to our Bright School community, let us reflect on words our founder Miss Bright wrote in 1936: “I am deeply grateful for the continued support and loyalty of our friends and patrons. This school must not stand still. We must see to it that we grow more and more able to meet the increased demands of the community.”

As we look to the future, we remember that we drink from wells that others dug before us, and the future of Bright School is as “Bright” as our name. 

Please join me in welcoming Kristin Baty Watts, her husband, Jay, and daughter, Colby, and stepson, Campbell, to the Bright School community.

Sincerely,

Austin Center '85
Chair of the Board of Trustees

Search Update August 10, 2020

Dear Bright School Community,
We hope that everyone has had an exciting and safe summer! It certainly has been quite different with the challenges presented by COVID-19, but, as usual, The Bright School community has been resilient and strong through the crisis. Our children are in great hands with the faculty and administration, and we are anticipating a joyful return to school on August 18. 
 
As we begin to look ahead to the new school year, we wanted to offer a brief update on the Head of School search. Our Search Committee along with our consultants from Carney, Sandoe & Associates have spent the spring and summer recruiting, vetting, and interviewing candidates who are attracted to the school's mission and to Chattanooga. Interest in the Head of School position has been strong. We are excited about the many talents and experiences that they possess! We remain on schedule and plan to announce our new Head of School early this fall. In the meantime, if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact one of us or one of our consultants: 
Barbara Daush: [email protected]
 
Charlie Britton: [email protected]com
 
As always, thank you for your support in this important work.
Sincerely,
Julie Guerry and Betsey Kates
Search Chairs

Community Survey Results April 22, 2020

Dear Bright School Community,

Hello to all, and we hope everybody is staying healthy! Thank you very much to everyone who participated in the Bright School Community Survey regarding the next Head of School. We had a significant number of individuals participate and those responses have been very helpful to move forward with our progress with the Bright School Head search. The data reflects that there are many common goals that are shared among the Bright School community. We all know that Bright School has a special place in each of our hearts and however you are associated with The Bright School, it is comforting to know that everyone was able to be a part of this process and and help guide the consultants and the search team. We would like to share with you some of the highlights of what we learned. 

We learned that most everyone is happy with Bright School and believes:

We have a high quality of academic learning and current best practices 
We have a high quality of faculty and staff
We value traditions and history
We foster a love for learning 
We value the small class/student/ teacher ratio

We agree that we would like to see the next Head of Bright School:

Be a strong leader among the Bright School Community
Be honest and share a love of learning
Be a team builder and collaborate

Thank you again for your valued comments and thoughts and we will continue to work with our consultants to find the best candidates for the next Bright School Head.

Stay safe and healthy!

Betsey Kates and Julie Guerry
Search Committee Co-Chairs

Faculty Advisory Committee Announced March 12, 2020

We would like to provide an update on the search for our next head of school. In an effort to engage the faculty and staff of Bright School at every step along the way in the search process, we have appointed art teacher Thankful Davis to the search committee and announced the members of the faculty advisory committee.

The faculty advisory committee will be included in the interview process, and the search committee will use feedback from the faculty members as it selects semi-finalists and finalists. Additionally, the faculty advisory committee will represent Bright School as candidates come to campus to get a feel for the school and get a sense of the Chattanooga community. The faculty advisory committee includes school counselor Rachel Blanton, JPK teacher Rachel Berger, PK teacher Katie Shirley, kindergarten teacher Bill Greene, first grade teacher Karen Smith, second grade teacher MacKenzie Taylor, third grade teacher Cindy Womack, fourth grade teacher Allison Sakich and fifth grade teacher Matt Lauer.

The appointment of these groups is important now as our search consultants will be on campus on March 16 and 17 to meet with constituents. The feedback from these meetings will help to develop the job description that will be used to recruit candidates, as well as narrow the applicant pool to find the best fit for Bright School. Shortly after these meetings, a survey will be sent to the entire Bright School community. We hope that everyone will participate in this survey. Strong participation will enhance the search process.

Following the on-campus visit and the survey, the job will be posted for a nationwide search. As is the case with any project, the early stages set the stage for future success. Please use your voice to make constructive feedback via the survey when it is distributed later this month.  

Sincerely,

Julie Guerry and Betsey Kates
Search Committee Co-Chairs

Search Committee Announced February 26, 2020

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am reaching out to provide an important update on the search for a new head of school. As you know, O.J. Morgan has announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2020-21 school year. We are indebted to O.J. for his dedication and tireless efforts to make this school the wonderful place it is today. The trustees and I take our task to find a replacement very seriously, and we have instituted a process that we believe will result in hiring the best new leader for our school.

Our search will be chaired by Julie Guerry, immediate past board chair and past parent, and Betsey Kates, current board member and parent.

The search committee includes:
Blair Cannon – current board member and parent. 
Allison Cromie ’84 – current board member, parent and alumna. 
Chris Curtis – current board member and parent.
Ashley Davenport - current parent.
Scotty Jones – current board member and current Middle School Principal at McCallie School.
Mary Kilbride - former board member and past parent.
Barry Large – current board member and parent.
Lucy Sawrie - incoming president of the Parents’ Association and parent.
Starlet Speakman - former chair of board and former Assistant Head/Principal of the Lower School at GPS.
Faculty Advisory Group – representatives from the faculty and staff.

We are grateful to these committee members for agreeing to lead this process. The Faculty Advisory Group will assist the search committee.

After interviewing representatives from three search firms, the board selected Carney Sandoe & Associates to aid in the search. The search committee will be working with consultants Barbara Dausch and Charlie Britton, who both have served as leaders at independent schools. Carney Sandoe & Associates, a highly respected firm hired by many prestigious independent schools, will be able to use its vast network to help identify candidates for our school.

The committee will conduct a national search, and we hope to name a new head in the fall. We will be asking faculty, staff, students, current and former parents, alumni, donors, and friends of the school to participate in the search process and provide feedback. Barbara and Charlie will be visiting the school in March for two days of interviews and focus groups. Following the visit, we will send a community survey to seek broader input. The search committee will carefully review all the information to help guide their work. Head of school finalists will visit the school to meet with community members, and everyone who meets the finalists will have a chance to complete an online evaluation.

A website has been created to post updates and information about the search. The survey will include an opportunity for you to nominate potential candidates and share your ideas regarding the desired qualities and characteristics for the next head.

The search committee, the board and I look forward to engaging with all of you during this important process that will shape the future of our beloved school.

Thank you for your support of Bright School.

Sincerely,

Austin Center
Chair, Board of Trustees

Retirement Announcement

O.J. Morgan announced in November 2019 his plans to retire at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. 

Special Announcement from O.J. Morgan from The Bright School on Vimeo.

Dear Bright School Community,

I became the Head of Bright School in 2004, entering a new phase of my educational career in Chattanooga. Without a doubt, these past 16 years have been some of the happiest of my professional life. As you will see in the video, I've decided to retire at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. With a year and a half left before that moment, however, I want you to know that I will be dedicating myself to making Bright School even stronger than it is today. We should offer no less to the next Head of School, giving that person a foundation from which to focus on the future. But I will need your help in getting us to that point. While the Board of Trustees has begun putting a search plan into place, we all need to pull together to finish out our Building a Bright Future capital campaign, making sure that we complete our vision of providing our children the best possible place in which to learn. I would be deeply grateful if you would join me in that effort.


From Austin Center '85, Chair of the Board of Trustees

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to thank O.J. Morgan for his leadership and dedication, which have left an indelible mark on our community and a lasting impact that will forever define the greatness of Bright School. Our school is stronger because of his tireless efforts these past 16 years, and as we move into the next phase in Bright School’s history, we are forever indebted to a man whose passion for children and education has made Bright School a leader in the community in elementary education and leaves our school in a position of strength as we move forward. The board is in the process of beginning a search for the best new leader for our school, and we look forward to engaging the Bright School community in this important endeavor.

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