HEAD OF SCHOOL SEARCH
Join me in welcoming Incoming Head of School Patrick McHonett
October 19, 2021
Dear Members of the Flint Hill Community,
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am delighted to announce that the Board of Trustees has appointed Patrick McHonett as the 13th Flint Hill Head of School, effective July 1, 2022.
The entire Search Committee — chaired by Liza Wright Renner — enthusiastically and unanimously recommended Patrick to the Board following an extensive nationwide search. We were fortunate that our search process involved a strong partnership with a reputable and highly experienced search firm and participation from a wide variety of Flint Hill stakeholders.
Through conversations with many of you, members of our Flint Hill community, we were able to identify the qualities and characteristics we believe important in Flint Hill’s next leader: a strong, relational leader with a growth mindset, a passion for promoting a student-centered approach to education, and an unparalleled level of integrity, humility and authenticity. In Patrick, we are pleased to have found a unique blend of precisely these qualities.
Patrick shared, “I am honored to build on the rich history and strong foundation built by John Thomas’ leadership of the School. Flint Hill makes intentional decisions to live its mission with authenticity and support of its community, which appeals to me greatly both as an educator and as a father of two soon-to-be Huskies. I am so grateful for this opportunity and look forward to joining the Flint Hill family in the coming months!”
Patrick is currently the head of school at St. John’s Episcopal School in Orange County, California. He previously served as associate head of school at Phoenix Country Day School in Phoenix, Arizona. His background includes experience in admissions, marketing and communications, and college counseling. Patrick also taught coursework in the English and Interdisciplinary Studies Departments and coached multiple sports in the middle and upper school divisions.
Patrick’s academic background includes a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Arizona State University and a bachelor of arts in literature and legal studies from Claremont McKenna College, where he was a student-athlete.
Patrick and his wife Jessica have two children — Charlotte and Jack.
The Search Process
Since the December 2020 announcement of John Thomas’ retirement, the Board of Trustees moved with intentional focus to put in place a comprehensive process with community involvement as an essential ingredient. The Board named a Search Committee, comprised of Board members and key members of the Flint Hill leadership team, and engaged a consultant, RG-175, to guide us. Our search generated nationwide interest with more than 40 applicants, some of whom were international and many of whom were diverse.
Our consultants interviewed more than 30 applicants and presented 17 fully vetted candidates for Search Committee consideration. The Search Committee narrowed the candidate pool to six candidates, who were interviewed in a full day of interviews in August. The Search Committee selected three final candidates who visited Flint Hill in late September and early October. The campus visits involved multiple days of meetings with community stakeholders.
Throughout the process, the Search Committee took steps to ensure a thoughtful, collaborative and open process, with communications designed to keep the Flint Hill community informed of its progress.
Leading Our Future and Blazing the Trail
Patrick’s appointment begins a new chapter in Flint Hill’s story. For the past 17 years, through John Thomas’ leadership, Flint Hill has garnered respect and unparalleled recognition in the pantheon of independent schools. John is leaving Flint Hill in a great position — and he continues to work hard every day to ensure that Flint Hill is ready for the future and new leadership. His efforts are the foundation of a seamless transition.
As we turn the page, we are encouraged that in Patrick McHonett, we see many of the qualities that we admire most in John Thomas and that have made Flint Hill so successful. We know that Patrick is committed to fostering a culture of innovation, setting the standard for teaching and learning, and making a difference while remaining true to the Flint Hill mission and values.
Hallmarks of this search process are thorough deliberations by our Search Committee and input from many community members. We, therefore, want to recognize and extend a heartfelt thank you to all who participated in the process, particularly to the members of the Search Committee and Liza Wright Renner, our Search Committee Chair, who was the chief architect of the search process and who guided the process with grace, wisdom and abounding energy. We are grateful for their dedication to the process, commitment and enthusiasm. These community-wide efforts made it possible to engage in a comprehensive search; these efforts are the reason we have been able to identify the next great leader for Flint Hill.
The Board of Trustees and the Search Committee are confident that we have found a new Head of School who will serve Flint Hill for many years to come. There is no doubt that Flint Hill will thrive under Patrick’s leadership. Please join me in welcoming the McHonett family to our Husky community!
Lucia Anna (Pia) Trigiani
Chair, Board of Trustees
A Message from Headmaster John Thomas
December 15, 2021
Dear Flint Hill School Community,
While we are still in the midst of navigating this very productive but challenging school year, I wanted to share with you the news that, with sincere confidence that we are at a moment of tremendous success as a school, I have informed our Board of Trustees that I will retire in June of 2022.
The 2021-22 school year will mark my 17th year at Flint Hill, my 26th year as a headmaster and my 50th year in the field of education. While words cannot express how deeply I will miss this community, it is time. It is the right time for me to step away and have more time with my family and it is the right time for Flint Hill to benefit from new leadership.
We had originally envisioned making this announcement in the spring of 2021. However, with the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic, we felt it would be best to make this announcement now to give Flint Hill more time to conduct a comprehensive and successful national search. Flint Hill offers an amazing educational experience, and like you, I want us to find the right person to step in and join our School family as we move forward into a very exciting future ahead.
I have been honored to serve this School family each and every day since I began my journey at Flint Hill. It is exciting to think about all that we have accomplished together. And throughout it all, we have kept our focus on making our approach to teaching absolutely student-centered. It has been a privilege to engage with so many talented students, and watch them blaze their own amazing trails. The poise and confidence of all the students who attend Flint Hill is worthy of praise.
It has also been awe-inspiring to witness and benefit from the innovative mindset of our faculty and staff members. Their passion, drive, and warm, caring approach make them deeply respected mentors to countless students. And I have been inspired by working with Trustees who continue to be visionary stewards of our mission, vision and core values. I have had the opportunity to learn from and with four incredible Board chairs. And, without question, I will always cherish the relationships and friendships I have been fortunate to build with our committed parents. That partnership is one of the great joys of my career.
At the same time, I know I need more time to spend with my family. I will be forever grateful to my amazing wife, Emily, for allowing me to serve in this role in the way that I believe is best. She has been incredibly patient and understanding as I have invested so much time, attention and energy into my commitment to Flint Hill. Emily has supported me throughout various moves around the country throughout my career, and while she was a very successful teacher herself, she was willing to uproot our family at various points and continuously build a loving home for me and our boys at each step in our family’s journey. But it has been a sacrifice for sure, and it’s time for us to spend more quality time together, with our children, and our amazing grandchildren. They are scattered throughout the United States, and it is time for us to travel and follow the advice I have always given people here at school, “family first.”
Throughout this transition period, I will continue to embrace the energy, creativity and collaborative nature of our wonderful School. I know that the relationships that we have built with each other will continue, and the joy I take each day in watching our Huskies blaze those trails on their individual journeys will always remain.
June of 2022 may be my last month to be with you on a daily basis, but Flint Hill will be in my heart forever. And please join me in thanking my wife Emily for her loving support over the years.
Best wishes to you! GO HUSKIES!
John M. Thomas
A Message from Board of Trustees Chair Pia Trigiani
December 15, 2021
Dear Flint Hill Community,
It has been my privilege to know and work with John Thomas over the past several years, first as a Trustee and now as Board chair. John has been a compassionate, dedicated servant-leader who has helped shape Flint Hill as both an innovative, dynamic academic institution and a vibrant, caring community.
Under John’s leadership, Flint Hill’s accomplishments have been significant. Through the strategic planning process, we introduced a new vision for every student, which has become a common refrain for members of our community. With the launch of our Innovation Program, we have seen our academic offerings expand in robotics, cybersecurity, makers, computer science and more. We have made tremendous strides in affirming our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and we have continued to strengthen our relationship with Apple, a relationship that has been instrumental in our students’ and faculty’s ability to continue academic programming through remote learning.
We have strengthened relationships with our alumni – both Falcon and Husky — and formed connections with the neighbors surrounding our campus. We launched and completed the historic Momentum campaign, which resulted in the construction of the new Peterson Middle School, and many improvements to the newly re-named Hazel Lower School. And we completed a comprehensive branding process to solidify our institutional identity and claim our position in an increasingly competitive market. John’s tireless support, encouragement and active presence have enabled Flint Hill to build upon its legacy of curiosity and innovation and take it to new heights.
John believes in leading visibly and whole-heartedly. He’s at every home game, play, concert and admission event, usually holding the door for attendees before taking a seat to watch or offer remarks. He even has a regular presence in the crosswalk during morning carpool at the Lower School. For nearly 17 years he has been the perfect embodiment of Flint Hill’s dynamism, excellence and humility. With his wife Emily’s support and encouragement, John’s legacy is strongly embedded in this wonderful community. There is truly no one like him.
As we turn our attention to the important work of choosing Flint Hill’s next head of school, we are confident that Flint Hill will attract qualified applicants nationwide and that we will have a strong pool of candidates to consider. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to assure you that choosing a leader who will move Flint Hill forward while maintaining the identity and spirit of the School we all love is our mission over the coming months. With that goal in mind, we have asked Liza Wright Renner, chair of the Committee on Trustees and a partner with Lochlin Partners, a world class corporate executive search firm, the mom of two lifelong Huskies and past president of the Parents’ Association, to chair the committee that will lead the search to identify a worthy successor for consideration by the Board of Trustees. After the holidays, we will provide more details concerning the Board’s plan for identifying John’s successor to join Flint Hill in the 2022-23 academic year.
The announcement of John’s retirement is an important milestone as we both honor John and choose Flint Hill’s next leader. We will have many opportunities to thank and celebrate John and Emily who have both given generously to Flint Hill. We are grateful that we will continue to benefit from John’s leadership during the next year and a half. I know we will be together to commemorate the John Thomas years and welcome our next leader in the new year.
Best wishes for safe, happy and healthy holidays.
Very Truly Yours,
Lucia Anna (Pia) Trigiani
Chair, Board of Trustees
Search Committee Members:
Liza Wright Renner
Search Committee Chair
Trustee & Committee on Trustees Chair
Hugh E. Taylor
Trustee & Investment Committee Chair
Michael P. Corkery
Trustee & Vice Chair
Lucia Anna (Pia) Trigiani
Trustee & Board Chair
Anne D. Peterson
Associate Head of School for Finance & Operations, Flint Hill School
Lisa R. Lisker
Trustee & Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Chair
Mia T. Burton
Director of Institutional Equity & Inclusion, Flint Hill School
Gary D. Rappaport
Trustee, Treasurer, & Finance Committee Chair
Director of Studies, Flint Hill School