Head of School Search

JD Friley Announces Retirement Date

June 5, 2017

Transitions from one leader to another can be difficult, but are much easier when the person who takes the helm knows every square inch of the ship, has worked along-side every member of the crew, has studied the waters, and begins each day with a clear vision of where they are going and how they will arrive safely.  This describes our current Head of School, JD Friley.  JD came to The Leelanau School in 2006 as the Dean of Students, and also ran the summer camp program.  He transitioned into the Assistant Head of School in 2015 and was named Head of School after Matt Ralston’s departure in 2016. After 42 years in education and school administration, JD has earned a very well-deserved retirement at the end of June 2018.

One of Leelanau School’s faculty members recently said, “JD can withstand any circumstance with a calm and positive attitude.  And I mean “any” circumstance. I have seen this gregarious leader work through an extensively difficult day, time and again, and return the very next morning ready to move forward in a beautiful, positive manner!  He is a true inspiration to educational leadership and community.”

JD’s planned retirement from Leelanau necessitated the search for a new Head of School to begin last year.  An 11-member search committee was made up of faculty, board members, parents, alumni and community leaders.  The timeline has been established for the search.  There will be opportunities for our school community to participate and give input to ensure we find the best 15th Head of School for Leelanau.  We will share periodic updates as we have news to share.  Updates can be read here.

With a new Strategic Plan in place, a dedicated faculty and staff, a clear mission, and an efficient and supportive Board of Trustees, The Leelanau School offers a unique opportunity for the right person to continue to steer the school on a course toward greater success and stability.

If you know exceptional leaders in education who may be interested in learning more about this position, they are welcome to contact Carolyn Helmlinger, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees at headsearch@leelanau.org


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May, 2016

Please join the board in congratulating JD Friley in his role as Head of School! He has been serving as the Assistant Head of School for the past year, and has been with The Leelanau School for 10 years, after serving as Director of the Pathfinder School and in many leadership roles at Interlochen Center for the Arts and Culver Academies. JD brings great knowledge and experience to his new position as Head of School.

Because JD plans to retire in the “not-too-distant future” the search will continue for his replacement, but he has agreed to stay as long as necessary to give us adequate time to do a deliberate and thorough search.

Have your say about our next Head of School. Please take this short survey to help our committee set priorities in characteristics and qualities we need in our next Head of School.

Thank you!

Survey for Head of School