Harbor School taps new leader

Harbor School announced late last week it has selected a new leader, who will begin her job this summer.

Teri Rutledge, an administrator at Villa Academy in Seattle, was tapped by Vashon’s independent K-8 school to be head of school, succeeding Mark McGough — who will depart on June 30 of this year after 33 years in education, four of which were spent at Harbor School. Rutledge’s service will begin the following day.

“I am truly delighted to be writing you this letter as the soon to be Head of the Harbor School,” Rutledge wrote in a prepared statement posted on the school’s website. “It is both humbling and exciting to join this wonderful community and I can’t wait to begin this important work.”

In a press release issued to The Beachcomber, the Harbor School touched on the qualities they found in Rutledge and her approach to education in alignment with the school’s mission.

“Teri’s professionalism, warmth, and enthusiasm were felt by the entire Harbor School community during its rigorous search process,” the school’s statement said. “Teri looks forward to supporting the mission, values and culture of the Harbor School, fully embracing the school’s mission of inspiring young scholars to contribute their wisdom, compassion, and personal best in the classroom, the community and the world.”

The announcement of Rutledge as head of Harbor School comes after a months-long national search that began in October by a search committee made up of the school’s constituents. Harbor School had said finalists would be interviewed in January of this year and that an announcement of a new head would come at the end of the month or in early February.

Harbor School Board Chairwoman Lisa Pearson told The Beachcomber the search began with 26 candidates and Rutledge was one of the two finalists who had the opportunity to visit campus. Pearson noted how Rutledge’s appointment comes on the 25th anniversary of Harbor’s School’s founding in 1995.

“It feels very serendipitous to find someone with her qualifications who can join the school at this time as we look ahead to another 25 years,” she said. “Kicking that off with someone who will bring such professionalism and experience in both formal and experiential education, it’s an exciting time for the school.”

Pearson also praised Rutlege’s predecessor, Mark McGough.

“We will miss Mark. He has been a tremendous leader for the school,” she said. “To be as comfortable and excited about this new leadership makes the transition easy.”

Rutledge praised the search committee and the process it carried out.

“I want to thank the search committee for leading an incredibly thoughtful process that afforded me the opportunity to meet so many members of the community and gain insight into the engaging, personalized academic experience the Harbor School provides,” she said. “I am especially grateful to the parents and faculty who gave so much time and energy to the search. This demonstration of care and commitment to the mission of the school is a large part of what made me excited to accept this offer.”

Rutledge said her background in education and even her “outdoor and travel learning” have prepared her for the top job at the Harbor School.

“I am thrilled to be joining a community whose values and philosophy closely align with my own,” she said.

Rutledge will be on campus numerous times, including for an auction, before she begins working at Harbor School. But more than anything, she is looking ahead to her new role.

“I look forward to working together to provide our students with an education that will allow them to succeed in the classroom, the community and the world,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge, who has board certification as a middle childhood generalist, received her bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University and a master’s from Western Governors University. She’s still receiving an education these days, working to complete a master’s degree in Education, Private School Leadership program from Columbia University. She expects to graduate next year.