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Head of School Transition

Dr. Steve Bellis reads to Pembroke Hill studentsIn a letter to the Pembroke Hill School community on Sept. 8, 2017, Board of Trustees president Don Montague announced that Steve Bellis, head of school, had informed the Board that 2018-19 will be his last year leading the school.


Pembroke Hill Appoints New Head of School Beginning July 2019

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Brad Shelley as our next head of school, effective July 1, 2019. Earlier this week, the Search Committee presented Brad as its unanimous nominee to the Board of Trustees. The Trustees enthusiastically approved the recommendation. Brad succeeds Steve Bellis, who will leave Pembroke Hill at the end of the 2018-19 school year, which will be his 18th year of dedicated service to Pembroke Hill, 12 of those years as head of school.

Brad has had extensive involvement with independent schools beginning as a student at Casady School in Oklahoma City, Okla. Currently, he serves as associate headmaster at McDonogh School in Baltimore, Md., where he shares responsibility for day-to-day functions including supervising three division heads, the director of equity and inclusion and the director of innovation and learning. Additionally, he oversees development, admissions, communications and operations. McDonogh is a complex school serving 1,400 prekindergarten – 12th grade students (both day and boarding) with 400 faculty and staff members. The campus features 40 buildings on 850 acres.

Brad is uniquely qualified to serve as the next leader of Pembroke Hill. During the in-depth selection process, his energy and enthusiasm for Pembroke Hill and our mission were evident to all. He is friendly, articulate and develops meaningful relationships within and outside of the school community. Brad has a genuine passion for educating students and fostering in them 21st Century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, personal responsibility and global competency. These attributes and his experience at various independent schools, along with his Midwestern values, make him an excellent choice to lead our school into the future.

Members of the Search Committee also completed extensive reference checks and received glowing reports from those who have worked with Brad and have direct knowledge of his skills and qualities. The clear theme that emerged is that Brad is an individual of the highest character, who cares deeply about all those who comprise a school community, and who has been a collaborative and effective leader in achieving goals, especially in the areas of innovative student-centered programs, development and strategic planning.

Prior to assuming his current role at McDonogh in 2016, Brad served as the school’s director of institutional advancement for four years. (He was appointed to this position following a nationwide search.) During this time, he led the effort to conclude an $82 million capital campaign. He also helped implement the school’s academic strategic plan, LifeReady. Additionally, Brad assisted in the design of the campus master plan and McDonogh Connect, a mentoring, internship and career resource program. He and his wife, Candace, are also campus parents with responsibilities for boarding students.

From 2008 to 2012, Brad was the head boys basketball coach and director of institutional advancement with Holland Hall School in Tulsa, Okla. Previous to Holland Hall, he served at his alma mater, Casady School, as a ninth grade adviser, head coach for boys basketball and girls golf, and assistant director of development. Fort Worth Country Day School was his first professional affiliation with an independent school and where he had multiple roles including lower school physical education teacher, eighth grade adviser and head boys basketball coach.

This summer, he will receive, from Johns Hopkins University, a master’s degree in education with a concentration in educational studies along with a graduate certificate in leadership in independent schools. He also graduated from Trinity University with a degree in communications and a minor in business.

Brad and Candace have three children, Blythe, 11, Braden, 9, and Claire, 6. In his spare time, he enjoys being with his family and watching his children’s activities, playing golf, reading and participating in school life.

“It was clear from the outset that Pembroke Hill is profoundly committed to its mission and values, and I am honored to have been selected to be the next head of school,” Brad said. “During my recent visit to campus, I was overwhelmed by the community’s warmth and kindness and was genuinely impressed with the talent among the faculty, administration and students.”

He continued, “Due to Steve’s leadership, Pembroke Hill is poised to do incredible things. I am looking forward to working with the community to ensure that the school remains one of the premiere independent schools in the country. My family and I are absolutely thrilled to be joining Pembroke Hill.”

Brad’s appointment is the result of a thoughtful and extensive process, coordinated by our Search Committee, which began last fall following Steve’s announcement of his intention to leave Pembroke Hill in the summer of 2019. Pembroke Hill’s strong reputation attracted a large pool of extremely talented candidates dedicated to educating tomorrow’s leaders. The Board of Trustees extends our gratitude to everyone who participated in this search process and provided important feedback.

The selection of the head of school is one of the greatest responsibilities of trusteeship. We are especially grateful to the members of the Search Committee for their countless hours of dedicated service: chair Anne Dema and committee members Jean-Willy de Pierre, Dave Chao, Rita Cortes ’83, Steve Hughes ’75, Kimi O’Dell Nelson ’82 and Clay Patterson ’96. We are also grateful for the guidance of our Advisory Committee: Jamie Allen, David Burke, Bobbi Elliott, Billie Howard Barnes, Noah Laible, Bart Robertson, Kit Smith, Anna Toms ’05, Amanda Willis and Greg Wolf ’88.

We look forward to welcoming the Shelleys to Pembroke Hill and back to the Midwest for visits over the coming months, while recognizing that Brad has ongoing responsibilities at his current school and that Steve continues as our head of school though June 2019. However, Steve and Brad will soon begin their work toward a smooth and productive transition.

We thank you in advance for your assistance during the next year as we celebrate Steve and Virginia for their dedication to Pembroke Hill and welcome Brad, Candace and their children to Kansas City.

Don Montague
Pembroke Hill Board of Trustees

Two Campus Visit Dates Announced

These two, two-day visits will occur on Monday and Tuesday, May 7–8, and the following Monday and Tuesday, May 14–15. During the visits to campus, the candidates will meet with faculty, staff, parents, alumni and students. Closer to the visits, I will provide you with the candidates’ resumes and bios.  I encourage you to attend the community forums, listed below, to become acquainted with the finalists.

Read More about Two Campus Visit Dates Announced

A Special Thanks to Search and Advisory Committees

The Search Committee comprises members of the Board of Trustees to determine priority qualities for the next head of school and evaluates candidates to make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees. Composed of representatives of school constituencies, an Advisory Committee provides advice and counsel to the Search Committee in this process.

Search Committee
Anne Dema, Search Committee Chair
Don Montague, Board Chair
Jean-Willy de Pierre
David Chao
Rita Cortes
Alumna '83, Trustee
Steve Hughes
Alumnus '75, Former Trustee
Kimi Nelson
Alumna '82, Trustee
Clay Patterson
Alumnus '96, Trustee

Advisory Committee
Jamie Allen
Lower School Parent
David Burke
Assistant Upper School Principal, Director of College Counseling, Head Varsity Boys Golf Coach
Bobbi Elliott
Controller, Head 7/8 Volleyball Coach
Billie Howard Barnes
Fifth Grade Teacher
Noah Laible
Upper School Math Teacher, Assistant Varsity Boys Lacrosse Coach, Assistant Robotics Coach
Bart Robertson
Assistant Director of Admissions - Ward Parkway Campus
Kit Smith
Early Childhood Teacher
Amanda Willis
Wornall Campus Counselor
Anna Toms
Alumna '05, Middle School English Department Chair, Dean of Students
Greg Wolf
Alumnus '88, Upper School Parent