What is the Executive Coaching Program?

The Education Group’s Executive Coaching Program expands our longstanding commitment to help assure the quality and success of leadership in our private, independent and non-public schools. 

Newly appointed school heads face an enormously difficult job. Not only must a school head be the educational leader of the school, but he or she must be its business leader, a counselor, a visionary, a spiritual leader, a fundraiser, an evaluator and guardian of the school’s mission.

Still another critical responsibility is selling the vision of the school and creating strong, credible relationships with widely divergent constituencies. It is an all-encompassing job. Most of the time, heads must learn much of it “on the ground, running.”

What remains a major need is a true executive coaching program. The Education Group’s Executive Coaching Program fills this void. Our Executive Coaching Program is tailored to the unique skills and needs of each newly appointed school head and designed to meet the challenges and complexities encountered by new heads in today’s independent school environment.

Why is an Executive Coaching program so important to schools and their new heads?

  • By 2019, projects the National Association of Independent Schools, 68 percent of current school heads will have retired or moved. The result is an emerging crisis: a shortage of qualified candidates prepared to replace the departing heads.

  • Many vacancies will be filled by young, eager, able, but relatively inexperienced heads that will for the first time be expected to deal with issues like enrollment management, constituent relations, finances, public relations, strategic planning, fund raising, crisis management and media relations. These positions may also be filled by experienced administrators and professionals new to the independent school world.

  • A new head, supported by even the most loyal trustees, administrators and faculty, generally finds those challenges daunting and would welcome thoughtful counsel from a person experienced in managing these issues.


What Can Our School Expect?

Intended primarily for newly appointed heads of independent schools, The Education Group’s Executive Coaching Program offers heads the wisdom, experience and support of a highly successful school leader to secure for them and their schools the success sought by every member of their school community. The Education Group will match a new head with an executive coach compatible in style and personality and familiar with the type of school (day, boarding, single gender) the new head will lead. Our executive coach will then work one-on- one with the new head to address leadership matters.

The Education Group Executive Coaching curriculum is based on best practices and on the experience of our team of highly successful school heads. It is organic, flexible and adaptable to each school’s needs.

Every new head brings to a school different strengths and experiences, and The Education Group Executive Coaches are prepared to address matters like

  • "The Honeymoon Days": This is a pivotal period, when the new head is establishing a tone and style and creating a critically important “first impression.”

  • Governance Issues: Few new heads are experienced in working with a board of trustees and with governance matters, but an Executive Coach can direct him to address effectively the essential elements of that fundamental relationship.

  • Academic and School Identity Issues: Though some boards surrender all of these issues to a head, others address them in inappropriate depth, and an Executive Coach can support the head and board chair in seeking balance on these important internal school matters.

  • Communications and Relationships: In assuming a headship, even an experienced school person will unlikely have communicated extensively with all of the constituencies of a school, be it day or boarding, and an Executive Coach can guide the head in relations with everyone from the board chair to the town’s mayor.

  • Anxious Situations, Crises and Tragedies: Even a new head is expected to prepare for the unexpected, beginning with a comprehensive “Crisis Management Plan,” which anticipates both the preventable and the unavoidable.

  • Financial Pressures: Problems like budget shortfalls or tuition increases require not only internal responses but also external communications with different constituencies of the school regarding the school’s finances.

  • The Role of the Head’s Spouse or Partner: This sensitive matter should be discussed not only by the new head and his spouse or partner but also by the new head and board chair. To address these issues, The Education Group Executive Coach will be joined by the head and their spouse/partner for consultation and support, addressing both traditional and contemporary notions of the head’s spouse/partner.


Who Designed The Executive Coaching Program?

The leadership team of the Executive Coaching Program are recently retired heads of school, all of whom enjoyed outstanding careers in independent schools:


Dennis Campbell
Woodberry Forest School

Phillip Cannon
St. John’s School

David Dougherty
The Hill School


Kay Dougherty
The Hill School

Mary Kesler
The Agnes Irwin School

Bob Kirkpatrick
St. Stephen’s Episcopal School


“My executive coach has been instrumental to my success as a head of school. He was available on short notice to consult in a number of crises as well as providing ongoing support for longer-term strategic issues. His experience and caring, supportive style were helpful in a wide range of situations, including parent communication, student discipline, and board development. Our conversations always left me feeling more capable and confident in what can often be a challenging and stressful environment.” -Head of School, Austin, TX

Contact us at services@educationgroup.com for more information on the Executive Coaching Program.