Dear WMS Families and Friends,
Creating the smoothest possible transition upon my inevitable departure has been a goal for us for more than six years. We believe the perfect opportunity and right set of conditions have arrived for that transition to happen. I will step aside as Head of School on June 30, 2018, turning over the leadership of the school to our Associate Head of School, Sunita Pailoor.
You can imagine that it is not easy to “let go” of my role at WMS because it has been one of the most fulfilling and satisfying adventures I could ever have imagined. I am so grateful to have spent these 35 years pursuing work that I simply love while constantly being challenged to learn and do new things. The opportunities and possibilities ahead of the school are most exciting, and I will greatly miss being part of the wonderful team who gets to work to make them reality. Sunita’s knowledge and her commitment to our school mission and vision is a major element in my decision to do this. Her understanding of what it takes to create and support quality, authentic, full-age-spectrum Montessori programs is rare. It gives me comfort and confidence that the work we have started will continue in the same direction.
Sunita came to WMS in 2000 as a parent of two sons who eventually graduated from our junior high, and are now in graduate school. She followed the not uncommon path here of becoming a volunteer, then working briefly as an assistant before committing to the rigors of Montessori elementary training. Sunita taught at Lower Elementary, then Upper Elementary before taking a year away to help start a public school Upper Elementary Montessori program in Maltby. She returned to WMS to lead the Secondary program for the past two years while completing AMS administrators training at the Houston Montessori Center with a Secondary emphasis. Sunita entered the NWAIS Pathway to Leadership training in June of 2016. This training is designed to familiarize interested and qualified individuals with all elements of independent school headship. Sunita is also a faculty member of MEIPN. Sunita has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Psychology and Economics from Bangalore University and a Bachelor of Science in Economics and General Studies from Portland State University. She earned a Master of Education degree from Plymouth State University.
The leadership team is reviewing candidates for Sunita’s position as Director of the Secondary Program. We look forward to sharing this news as soon as it is finalized.
I will always remain deeply invested in the future of WMS because of what it means to children, and because I care so deeply about our staff and families. I thank the Board and all of you for your trust and support all these years, and know that you will continue to extend that trust and support to Sunita as she takes the lead.
Dear Friends and Families of WMS,
As President of the Board of Trustees, it is with mixed emotions that I announce the retirement of our founder and Head of School, Mary Schneider. Mary will retire at the end of the school year, her 35th year leading Woodinville Montessori School. Under Mary’s guidance, our school has grown strong with over 375 students ages 18 months to 18 years—such an impressive accomplishment.
It is impossible to communicate here all that Mary means to our families and students, as well as to the education and Montessori communities. Mary has been a long-time leader, advisor and member of the AMS and NWAIS boards. In the coming months, we will provide many opportunities to sing Mary’s praises and celebrate the legacy that she has created.
For many of us, Mary has been not only the Head of School, but also the history, vision and voice of this wonderful school community. I am happy to say that she is leaving WMS in wonderful shape with so many exciting possibilities for the next 35 years.
Transitions mean change, which can often be challenging. Your Board of Trustees has been preparing for Mary’s retirement for the past several years through our Head of School Succession Planning committee. This committee has been researching and outlining best practices, preparing for the transition we knew would come. We hired an outside consultant who specializes in searches for heads of school, and we followed the recommendations offered. We are confident that this transition will be seamless.
With those expert recommendations and the years of preparation, the Board has unanimously voted to appoint Sunita Pailoor as Head of School, beginning July 1, 2018. Sunita began her career at WMS in 2003, and is currently the Associate Head of School and Director of the Secondary Program. She holds an advanced degree in education, is a certified Montessori teacher and administrator, and was chosen to participate in the prestigious Pathways to Leadership program, a two-year training program for heads of school. Mary has been mentoring Sunita over the years with the hope that she would be the right fit to lead our school, and the Board is delighted that we agree. Plus, Sunita’s two children attended WMS!
We are currently evaluating candidates to fill Sunita’s role in the Secondary Program. The Board of Trustees is confident that our careful planning will result in a successful and smooth transition both for Secondary and for the school as a whole.
The Board of Trustees asks for your trust that we have worked diligently to prepare for this moment, for the future prosperity of all programs at WMS and the school community as a whole. Over this Midwinter Break, we encourage you to talk with your children about the benefits and challenges of change. And then, upon our return, we welcome all of your questions. Of course, you are welcome to contact Mary or me via email.