Founded in 2016 with support from the Walton Family Foundation and located on a 30-acresite in downtown Bentonville’s Market District, Thaden School is a new independent school in Northwest Arkansas designed to “give students roots and wings, enabling them to build strong foundations and reach new heights as they pursue their dreams and make their own history.” The school plans to open in August 2017 with no more than 120 students in grades 7 and 9, and grow incrementally over the next four years to approximately 500-625 students in grades 6 through 12. The school will offer a challenging and balanced educational program aimed at igniting students’ passions for discovery and learning, preparing them to succeed in college, and inspiring them to lead lives of integrity, purpose, and responsible global citizenship.
Through the Walton Family Foundation’s Design Excellence Program, the school engaged a nationally renowned team of architects - Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (New Orleans) and Marlon Blackwell Architects (Fayetteville) - to lead the design of the campus buildings, and Andropogon (Philadelphia/Raleigh, NC) to lead the design of the campus landscape. The design and construction of the campus is expected to be complete before the school commences its third academic year in the fall of 2019. Meanwhile, during its first two academic years, Thaden will operate in a combination of temporary and permanent structures located on a portion of its 30-acre campus. Sustainable practices will play a prominent part in the design of the campus and the school’s educational program.
Thaden will offer an indexed tuition program that will make the education affordable for all families in Northwest Arkansas. Instead of charging a fixed tuition, the school will charge each family an indexed tuition, ranging anywhere from $500 to $24,800, that is individually determined based on the family’s resources. All families, including those that pay the maximum tuition, will pay less than the full cost of a Thaden education because many of the school’s expenses, including those associated with the design and construction of its campus, will be subsidized through philanthropic contributions.
Thaden hopes to attract students from all parts of the growing and diverse region of Northwest Arkansas, which includes Rogers, Springdale, Fayetteville, and other townships. With more than 500,000 residents, the region combines a thriving economy with the natural beauty of the Ozarks and a rich variety of cultural and recreational amenities such as the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Razorback Regional Greenway Trail System, the Scott Family Amazeum, and the Bentonville Film Festival. Northwest Arkansas is also home to the world headquarters of three Fortune 500 companies (Walmart, Tyson Foods, and J.B. Hunt) as well as the University of Arkansas, the flagship campus of the state’s higher education system.
The character and quality of any school depends in large part on the qualities and character of its leadership. One of the highest priorities at Thaden is to build a diverse faculty and staff who can serve as role models and mentors for students and encourage them to think expansively about their potential. To that end, after a national search in 2015, the Foundation appointed Clayton Marsh, Deputy Dean of the College at Princeton University, as Founding Head of Thaden School.
Recognizing the role of a superb leadership team in any world-class educational institution, Dr. Marsh recruited Dr. Lisa Herschbach as Associate Head of School and Director of Upper School and Mr. José Leonor as Associate Head of School and Director of Middle School in 2016. With roots in Massachusetts and California, Dr. Herschbach comes to Thaden from Princeton University, where she was Director of the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning and Associate Dean of the College. Mr. Leonor was raised in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City and comes to Thaden from The Bishop’s School, one of Southern California’s oldest and finest independent schools. The administrative team brings Thaden a wide range of backgrounds and skills as well as tremendous excitement for this remarkable opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of Northwest Arkansas. They plan to devote much of their time in 2017 to the recruitment of talented teachers from all over the state, region, and country.
Thaden School’s Board and Founding Head seek an experienced and dynamic leader to lead the establishment of all financial and operational systems. With an emphasis on sustainability, the new Director of Finance and Operations will work with a stellar leadership team (http://thadenschool.org/leadership/) to advance the creation a world-class educational institution in an up-and-coming, increasingly diverse city and region in the United States.
Reporting to the Founding Head, the Director will work with him and the leadership team to establish central policies and practices, build out the campus, and set up the financial and administrative infrastructure for the school. The Director will also work closely with the Head and Board of Directors in developing a plan for maintaining the long-term financial stability of the school. The Director’s responsibilities will include the following:
- Providing coordination and oversight for the construction of the campus with a focus on sustainability;
- Creating systems for enrollment, faculty and staff contracts, and financial aid;
- Establishing and overseeing human resources operations;
- Overseeing the development of a technology plan and supervising IT work;
- Keeping an accurate, continuous record of cash and the financial position of the school and managing the financial operations of the school so that it remains financially stable;
- Preparing monthly operating statements for the Head of School and the board;
- Providing monthly reports of expenditures;
- Establishing a plan and schedule for the preparation of the annual budget that will permit the setting of the succeeding year’s tuition;
- Providing for the securing of an annual audit of the school’s financial records;
- Overseeing purchasing, investments, banking activities, payroll, and benefits;
- Providing support to the board’s finance committee;
- Managing risk at the school to ensure the safety of personnel and students in their use of the facilities and maintaining insurance to protect the property and cover the liability of the school;
- Overseeing school transportation, including transportation routes, schedules and contracts and assessing the performance of the transportation companies;
- Overseeing and coordinating the work of the business office;
- Ensuring the effective management of the food-service operation and any other auxiliary enterprises;
- Assisting the Founding Head and the senior administration with decisions regarding salaries and benefits for all personnel, including the evaluation of support staff; and
- Performing all other duties as requested by the Founding Head to support the school and its leadership.