Board of Trustees & Head of School

Special Community Announcement April 5, 2021

Letter from Board Chair James Hallick:

Dear MCDS Community,

I am happy to announce that the Board of Trustees has unanimously selected Mark Brooks as the permanent MCDS Head of School effective immediately.

After completing our Head of School job description with feedback from faculty, staff, parents, students and alumni, it was clear that Mr. Brooks was a match for what we were looking for as our school leader. The additional survey data collected by the school from parents, faculty, staff and students clearly showed Mr. Brooks was successfully leading MCDS in the right direction and was strong in all the aspects and characteristics we had identified. The Board read all comments in the feedback sections of the surveys, and as part of his review, the board met with his direct reports to get feedback on his performance to-date.

The Board consulted with the presidents of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) as well as the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) regarding our plan to select Mr. Brooks as our permanent Head. Both agreed on our decision to hire Mark as the head of MCDS, based on his experience, performance and fit for the mission of our school.

Mr. Brooks is a visionary leader and educator with over 15 years experience as the Head of two nationally recognized independent schools. This experience will be invaluable as we define our goals and priorities in a new strategic plan. His financial and operational experiences at both struggling and thriving schools will help keep stability and continued growth at MCDS. He has clearly demonstrated his strong ability to communicate internally and externally to our community throughout one of the most challenging times in MCDS’s history. In a short time, he built strong and productive relationships with our faculty, staff, students, and parents. His experience and national connections including many colleges as well as both NAIS and the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) will help to lead us to be a regional and nationally recognized independent school.

As the Chair of the Board, I have had the pleasure to work with Mr. Brooks on a regular basis. From day one he has far exceeded anything we could ask for, operating in a way you would expect a permanent head versus an interim head. He immediately identified issues and has brought solutions and connections to MCDS to move us forward while simultaneously managing our school in an unprecedented pandemic. The relationship between Chair and Head of School requires trust, respect, and a willingness to rely on each other’s strengths, along with a common understanding of the organization’s goals and the strategies needed to get there. I feel very fortunate for myself as well as MCDS to have the opportunity to partner with Mr. Brooks to lead and advance MCDS’ mission.

There will be a Head of School Coffee on April 8 where I and other board members will be in attendance to answer any questions, as well as support the Fund-A-Need launch.

Please join me in congratulating Mr. Brooks in his appointment as MCDS next Head of School. Mr. Brooks has included a letter to the community below.

Sincerely,
James Hallick
Chair, MCDS Board of Trustees

Letter from Head of School Mark Brooks:

Dear MCDS Community:

During my career, I have often imagined (and wished I could find) a school that could do what a school could do if it had the vision, committed faculty/staff and parent partners, curriculum, entrepreneurial spirit, drive, and courage. A place where students are taught how to think rather than what to think. A building filled with talented and innovative educators and staff who work in education because they cannot imagine doing any other work and are dedicated to making a real difference for the students in their care and the future.

It did not take long for me to discover that I have found that place.

I came to Wisconsin with the goal of supporting MCDS through a transition. Many of you know that I originally accepted the position as interim head of school at MCDS with the intent that it would be a two year interim position. I did not expect to fall in love with MCDS and Madison. Who knew I would enjoy sledding! However, my admiration for this school, its mission, those who work at MCDS and the students immediately captured my heart. I am completely energized and inspired by the mission and remarkable community of educators, students and parents. Each day I discover another trait that I love about the school including being so impressed with the curriculum, faculty and staff and parents who sacrifice to ensure their children receive the best education possible.

I see MCDS as a “world school” educating the students in our care for the future, whatever that will be. Few schools accomplish what MCDS has in its short history. In fact, many schools that have been educating students for generations do not enjoy such a community spirit where everyone is connected to this community and “all in” for their school. The way the adults on campus relate to our students with mutual respect is admirable. I observe a campus daily where great energy and intellect are at work for the students.

I am deeply passionate about the future and potential of MCDS to spark innovation, transform young people, and be part of building a more just and harmonious world. As independent school educators, we are in the position to provide a transformative education. Having benefited from an independent school education as the result of financial aid, I am committed to this work.

Never have I had the opportunity to work with more committed, creative, hardworking, and fun colleagues and parents. Thanks to those qualities, MCDS modeled how to offer both virtual and in-person teaching and learning when others said it could not be done. The result was that 450 students and our faculty had the opportunity to attend or teach in whichever mode was the right one for them. This past year has been monumental for the school and while very challenging has provided me with some of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my career. In a word, I am at home.

During this past year, MCDS could have said simply operating during the pandemic would have been enough. But that is not the spirit of MCDS. During this year MCDS continued its quest of an implementation of the PYP and MYP, furthered its important work in the areas of SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) and DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion), reached the 5 year goal of increasing faculty salaries to the ISACS median, implemented Global Online Academy, and continued many initiatives across the school to deliver a program that is intellectually stimulating, personally enriching, and academically challenging.

I look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of the last 25 years with you, but more importantly, looking forward with an eye toward honoring and continuing our traditions but at the same time building on them to improve. In the next year, the board and the entire community will engage in a Strategic Vision process that will keep our school on its successful path, as well as forging ahead to the future.

I very much appreciate our reconstituted and appropriately engaged Board of Trustees who are taking on the work which needs to be done to provide a strong and stable foundation for the future of our school. I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Heads of School who have come before me as they ably shepherded the school to this point. I am committed to doing the same.

Lastly, my family is thrilled that we have been given this opportunity to serve MCDS. I look forward to continuing to partner with the outstanding faculty and staff, students, families, trustees, and the Madison community in pursuit of the mission of the school. Thank you to everyone for being so welcoming and full of the MCDS community spirit that embraced me the moment I stepped foot on campus.

Onward,
Mark A. Brooks
Head of School