Chris Cunningham Named New Head of School

Whitfield School’s Board of Trustees is pleased to announce Chris Cunningham as the new Head of School effective July 1, 2022. Cunningham comes to Whitfield from The Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, NJ, where he is currently the Assistant Head of School and Dean of Faculty, having served since 2003 as English teacher, Head of House, Advisor, and Varsity Coach.

Cunningham was selected from a pool of candidates from throughout the U.S. and abroad following a comprehensive search conducted in partnership with Educators’ Collaborative, led by consultants Nat Conard and Deidre Ling. His appointment was recommended to the Board of Trustees by the Search Committee, comprised of trustees, parents, students, alumni, faculty, and staff. The Board unanimously ratified this recommendation at a Board meeting on May 25, 2021.

Cunningham has spent the past 25 years in independent school education.  Receiving a bachelor’s degree in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University in 1989, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Distinction and Honors. He went on to complete a Ph.D. in English from Duke University in 1996.

“Our community was impressed with Chris’ experience and personal philosophy about education and child development,” said Whitfield Board of Trustees Chair Paul Minorini in the announcement to the Whitfield community. “Chris is described as a ‘galvanizing although gentle leader with a phenomenal capacity to listen and respect the opinions of others, Chris leads with intentionality and builds consensus. An excellent public speaker and gifted writer, he is also an incredibly talented teacher who is beloved by his students.’ We look forward to welcoming Chris and his wife, Helena, to the school community.”

“I am honored to accept the board’s offer to be Whitfield’s next head of school,” said Chris Cunningham in the announcement to the Whitfield community. “In my visit to campus earlier this spring, I was inspired by the students I met and by the community of adults committed to their learning and well-being. From the members of the board to the teachers, parents, and administrative team, I was impressed by the sense of community and moved by the commitment to changing children’s lives. After 25 years of working in independent schools, I am inspired by Whitfield’s commitment to progressive education—to teaching for depth rather than breadth, to aligning academic rigor and strength of character, and to caring for students’ social and emotional well-being. As the next head of school, I will keep forefront the values that animate me as a school leader—community, integrity and fairness, diversity and inclusion, student-centered learning.” 

In January 2021 Whitfield’s current head of school, John Delautre, announced his planned retirement at the conclusion of the 2021-22 school year. Whitfield will enjoy his leadership for the next 14 months, thus ensuring a smooth leadership transition. During his tenure as head of school, Delautre worked with the school community to develop and implement a strategic plan; successfully conducted a $10 million dollar campaign to support the plan and improve the school’s financial strength; made the Habits of Mind & Heart a centerpiece of the Whitfield experience; strengthened the school’s academic program, faculty and administrative team; and created a dynamic, sustainable and successful international student program that has greatly enriched the school community.

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