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Head of School Transition


The Mission of Harbor Country Day School:
'Harbor cherishes childhood, cultivates wonder and
inspires confident learners and leaders.'

Dear Harbor Community,

After an extensive nationwide Head of School search, it is our honor to announce that the Board of Trustees has appointed Andy Sperling as Harbor's next Head of School, effective July 1, 2022. 

Beginning in March 2021, the Search Committee worked with search consultant Jean Lamont of Educators' Collaborative and reviewed the credentials of candidates from all parts of the country. The Committee then identified eight individuals for a confidential round of interviews. Subsequently, three finalists were chosen to visit the campus for comprehensive two-day interviews. On October 19, the Search Committee selected Andy Sperling as its nominee to the Board of Trustees to serve as the next Head of School. The Trustees ratified this recommendation at a special Board Meeting on October 27.

Andy has over thirty years of experience as an educator. He began his teaching career in a suburban public school after receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics (K-12) from Illinois State University in 1990. While teaching 7th grade math and providing math professional development, support and curriculum coordination for K-8 within his district, he earned his Masters of Educational Administration certificate in 1997. Two years later, he joined the faculty of Lake Forest Country Day School (LFCDS) where he continued his career as a middle school math teacher. Andy was promoted to Head of Upper School in 2012. In this role, Andy led the effort for diversity and inclusion training, developed relationships through parent education and presentations, assisted in the planning and design of several campus renovation projects, facilitated and developed the schoolwide social and emotional learning program, developed the middle school STEAM program and prepared the students for FLL Robotics competitions. 

Andy grew up in Evanston, a suburb on the north shore of Chicago. He is a recreational cyclist, NFL enthusiast, and contemporary jazz aficionado! He will be joined by his partner, Hilary, who is from Baltimore. She has been a critical care dietitian for 25 years. In her spare time she loves to scrapbook and is happiest on the beach with her toes in the sand. Between them, Andy and Hilary have three children. Andy's son Tim is working part-time for an architecture firm in Milwaukee while pursuing his masters at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Hilary's daughter Avery lives in Manhattan and is working on an MBA at Johns Hopkins University, and Hilary's son Ethan is a sophomore at the University of Maryland, where he is studying Information Science. 

Andy is described by his references as a mission-focused, authentic and exceptional leader, with incredible energy and warmth. He is known for his dedication to his faculty, and his ability to identify and develop talent among his staff. Moreover, Andy's ability to build great relationships with parents, and partnerships between parents and students, make him a beloved and much respected member of the LCDFS community. Andy is a real "schools' person'' through and through, and his compassion and integrity will serve him well in his role as Harbor's next Head of School for many years to come. 

The selection of the Head of School is one of the greatest responsibilities of trusteeship, and all of us at Harbor can be proud not only that Andy has accepted the appointment, but also that the entire Harbor community was so deeply invested in the process. Every constituent of our community had a voice in this process and we took to heart all the feedback and insights shared while we deliberated which candidate was the best match for Harbor at this time. We are delighted with the outcome and look forward to welcoming Andy and Hilary to Harbor. We know that we can count on each of you, in your own way, to extend a warm welcome to both of them as well.

The search process has been a comprehensive one, and we extend our sincere appreciation to our fellow Search Committee members, Rose Antilus, Nicole Fotis, Bob Gaffney '76, Corinne Hammons, Nancy Langdon, and Ralph Pepe, who devoted countless hours and great care to ensuring a successful outcome. They, and the members of the Advisory Committee, and, indeed every stakeholder, who took the time to participate in the process, should be acknowledged for their contribution to the success of this process. 

With the prospect of new leadership after the successful tenure and wonderful stewardship on the part of our beloved Head of School John Cissel, and the continuing dedication of our faculty and staff, the Board of Trustees looks forward to a bright future for Harbor Country Day School.

With continued gratitude for our wonderful Harbor community,

Alex Doboli P'17, P'20, Chair, Board of Trustees
Cynthia Wong Lippe P'21, Search Committee Co-chair, Trustee
Adrienne Owen P'20, Search Committee Co-chair, Trustee Emerita


A Letter from Harbor's Head of School Elect
Andy Sperling


Dear HCDS Community, 

It is a distinct honor to be named the twelfth Head of School at Harbor Country Day School. From the moment I stepped through the majestic front door at Tulip Knoll, I sensed that indescribable vibe that can only be felt when you have experienced it firsthand. It's far more than just the charm—it's the way in which the children carried themselves and how they exuded confidence that drew me in. HCDS epitomizes what it means to embrace and live its mission. It is apparent that the faculty are rooted in pride and have played an integral role in the development of such a caring environment. I was mesmerized by the deep connections that students clearly have with their teachers, with the dynamic rapport that they revealed, and with the commitment to whole-child education that was on display during my two-day visit. The learning energy was most definitely palpable. 

Great independent schools exist when the strength of partnership is apparent. I could not have been more impressed with the spirit and tone that was consistently portrayed by the Harbor community. With each conversation that I had, I was able to experience repeated examples and themes related to why students, faculty, staff, and parents love their school. As a storyteller, it would be a privilege for me to spread the word as I share my admiration for HCDS with others. 

I want to sincerely thank the Board of Trustees, the Search Committee (led by Adrienne Owen and Cynthia Lippe), the Advisory Committee (led by Laura Huang Ernst and Erik Johnson), and the leadership team for creating such an authentic process. The respect and warm welcome that Hilary and I felt during our time on Long Island was so affirming. I would also like to specifically recognize and thank Lynette Mutschler for her impeccable attention to every detail during my visit. 

Just as Harbor Country Day School cherishes childhood, I pledge to cherish John Cissel's legacy. It is abundantly clear from an outsider's perspective that the strong culture and close-knit family feeling that exists today is a testament to John's leadership. I sincerely enjoyed my time learning about HCDS from him, and am grateful for his support and mentorship moving forward. 

Harbor Country Day School is poised to continue on its successful path. With the addition of the recent capital campaign, there is much to celebrate and anticipate. The future is beyond bright. As I stated in my cover letter, HCDS is a gem, and it will be a privilege to lead the faculty and staff on their continued journey of excellence. 

With warmest regards,