Dalton Names New Head After Tumult of Pandemic and Politics
(Bloomberg) -- Dalton has selected a new leader, after the elite New York City private school was battered by the same forces that hit many others: Covid-19 and issues of race and equality.
Jose De Jesus will become head of school at Dalton, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, on July 1, 2022. He is currently in the same role at Lake Forest Academy, in Lake Forest, Illinois, a wealthy Chicago suburb.
De Jesus, 46, was born in Puerto Rico, and as a child moved to New York City, where he learned English, according to a letter parents received Sunday announcing his appointment. He began his career as a history teacher and moved into administration at New York City’s Poly Prep Country Day School, the Spence School and Packer Collegiate Institute.
Dalton’s former head, Jim Best, was in the position, with a salary in the high six figures, for three years. Best announced in April he would step down, after facing criticism for the handling of instruction during Covid and matters of race, diversity and inclusion.
Dalton has not been alone in turmoil among the city’s private schools since the onset of the pandemic and debates over racism and inclusion after the killing of George Floyd.
The appointment will make Dalton one of the few New York City independent schools to be led by a person of color, joining Spence, which recently hired Felicia Wilks as head, to start at the same time as De Jesus. According to the National Association of Independent Schools, 8% of heads of school in 2019 were people of color and 31.6% of students enrolled at its member schools were children of color.
De Jesus is an alumnus of Prep for Prep, the program designed to elevate New York City students of color. He went to the Horace Mann School, then Wesleyan University, where last year he participated on a virual panel titled “Educating for Equity: Building Racial Competencies.” He holds Master of Arts degrees in Private School Leadership from Columbia University and in History from Tufts.
He is committed to “extending our expertise in progressive education, advancing our culture of academic excellence and reinforcing a dynamic, inclusive environment in which all of our students are seen and thrive,” Dalton’s board president, Aly Jeddy, a senior partner at McKinsey, said in the letter.
In a video posted on Facebook a couple of months before the presidential election last year, De Jesus acknowledged the stresses of the pandemic and politics.
“It is imperative we engage one another as thoughtful citizens,” he said.
Dalton started its search for a new head with a committee including Roy Swan, head of mission investing at the Ford Foundation, and Cheryl Effron, chair of the Revson Foundation.
De Jesus, whose wife has taught at Dalton, first visited the school 35 years ago as a prospective student for Prep for Prep.
“Since then, I have admired Dalton for its devotion to seeing, and then bringing, the very best out of every student,” he said in the letter.
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