NEWTOWN SQUARE–Thomas J. “T.J.” Locke, the charismatic leader who led Isidore Newman School in New Orleans to new heights in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, has been appointed Episcopal Academy’s 11thHead of School, effective July 1, 2013.
Locke has served as Newman’s Head of School for the past six years. He will succeed
“The Episcopal Academy enjoys a well-deserved, national reputation as a school of excellence, and from my time on campus it is easy to see why. From the moment my wife and I walked on to the beautiful new campus, we knew this was a special place,” said Locke. “However, after spending a few days at EA, it is the people that made the real impact on us.
“From the extremely talented faculty, staff and administration to the loyal and committed parents and alumni, each and every person I met had a deep affection for the school. This was most apparent with the school’s greatest treasure, the students. When I spoke with them about their school, they enthusiastically shared their pride. They were quite aware of the long and rich tradition, and they felt fortunate and honored to contribute. I felt that same sense of honor when I was asked to be the new Head of School.”
Locke’s appointment is the culmination of an extensive search in which the 12-person Head of School Search Committee—with the help of search consulting firm Carney Sandoe and Associates—screened hundreds of highly-qualified candidates and then interviewed nine of them before unanimously agreeing that Locke was a perfect fit to lead Episcopal Academy in this important time in its illustrious 227-year history.
“What impressed our search committee was T.J.’s enthusiasm for teaching and the business of schools, his instant and genuine connection with Episcopal, his very personable nature, the academic depth on his resume, and the breadth of exposure that he has had to both public and private schools,” says Gary Madeira, the chairman of Episcopal’s Board of Trustees and the head of the search committee. “T.J. is a teacher, an administrator, and an extremely likeable, articulate, and confident leader.”
Locke comes to EA after serving as the Head of School for the past six years at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans—which, like, EA, is an independent school with a national reputation for excellence. Despite taking over as Newman’s Head of School in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Locke further enhanced the school’s overall curriculum by successfully integrating technology into the school’s entire instructional program as well as adding a ninth-grade writing seminar, senior internships, a School Year Abroad, and a global studies program to the Upper School.
“T.J will be leaving Newman having made a tremendous impact on our school,” noted Newman’s current Board Chair H. Merritt Lane III. “T.J. is an educator at heart and an extraordinary leader. He is in his prime and I am certain he will do a great job at Episcopal Academy.”
In addition to strengthening Newman’s curriculum, Locke dramatically improved the school’s bottom line during his time there—increasing annual giving by 75% during his tenure, growing the school’s endowment to $30 million, and accumulating significant operating budget surpluses over the past five years.
“I found T.J. to be particularly perceptive about people and the situations that we encounter as teachers,” says Kris Aldridge, an Upper School history teacher who served on the search committee. “T.J. honors the craft of teaching by appreciating the challenges of fostering a student’s love of learning within the confines of academic rigor and expectation. He also struck me as a leader with a keen interest in listening to all points of view but with the willingness to make decisions when the time comes.”
His latest decision to move from New Orleans to Newtown Square will represent a homecoming of sorts for Locke, a south New Jersey native, who started his teaching career as an eighth and ninth-grade English teacher (and state champion-winning volleyball coach) in East Brunswick, N.J. He followed that experience with a meteoric rise in the Cherry Hill (N.J.) public school system—going from an assistant middle school principal to elementary school principal to the Director of Curriculum for all of the 11,500 students in 19 different schools in Cherry Hill.
“T.J. is a good friend and a mentor, a thoughtful educational leader I admire immensely, and someone who has taught me a great deal,” says Dale Smith, the Associate Head of School at Isidore Newman who has been tapped to replace Locke after the 2012-13 school year. “I will miss him tremendously as will many members of our school community.”
A 1993 graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in English, Locke went on to earn a masters degree in Educational Administration from Rutgers in 1999 and his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in Educational Leadership and Organizational Theory in 2005.
“Going into the process, I was looking for two things in a new Head of School: 1) someone who understands teachers and teaching; and 2) someone who is charismatic and who can inspire the faculty,” says Doug Parsons, Dean of Faculty who served on the 12-person Head of School Search Committee. “After one hour with T.J., I knew he was the right man for the job.”
In addition to serving as Episcopal’s Head of School, Locke will also be an EA parent starting this summer and for many years to come. He and his wife, Lauren, have a daughter, Katie, who will enter EA as a fourth grader next year, and twin two-year-old boys, Teddy and Charlie, who will be part of EA’s graduating Class of 2028.
“My wife and I were able to attend Chapel during our visit, and we were deeply moved. We knew then that it would be a blessing to have our own children come to this very special place,” said Locke. “My wife and I already feel a connection with the people we have met, and we cannot wait to get to know everyone in the EA community. I am very thankful to the search committee and the board for their trust in my leadership. I am excited to serve for many years to come.”
Locke will replace Clark, who just recently announced his plans to become the next Head of the American Community School (ACS) in Beirut, Lebanon. Under Clark’s leadership, Episcopal Academy moved from its two campuses in Merion, Pa. and Devon, Pa. to its current 120-acre site in Newtown Square. Clark also led the effort to raise $100 million dollars for the facilities and for endowment.
This press release was provided by The Episcopal Academy.