Dear Members of the MICDS Community,

On behalf of the MICDS Board of Trustees, I am delighted to announce that the Board has voted unanimously to appoint James E. “Jay” Rainey, Jr. to succeed Lisa L. Lyle as MICDS’ next Head of School, effective July 1, 2019.

The Board of Trustees appointed Jay Rainey after a thorough, eight-month search  that included candidates from top domestic and international schools and in-person interviews with a strong pool of candidates with gender, ethnic, racial and geographic diversity and exceptional professional experiences and track records.

Jay’s many qualities and attributes match what members of the MICDS community so clearly expressed they were seeking in our next Head of School. At listening sessions last spring and in responses to surveys, community members shared that they want a visible and visionary educational leader who will seek to unite the passion and commitment of the MICDS community, as well as someone who is warm, accessible, strategic and forward-thinking. We have found these attributes and more in Jay Rainey.

Jay’s strong leadership qualities, excellent interpersonal skills, commitment to academic excellence and extraordinary successes as an independent school educator and administrator ideally position him to lead our great School. He comes to MICDS from Randolph School, a K-12 independent school with 950 students, where he has served as Head of School since 2014. He is a strategic thinker and an effective communicator. At Randolph, Jay has led strategic planning, a merger with another local independent school and a reimagination of the School’s approach to financial aid. He also oversaw the creation of a program to engage and connect alumni, grandparents, past parents and other Randolph School community members with the passions and research interests of students. Prior to Randolph School, Jay spent twelve years at Norfolk Academy, where he served as a math and English teacher, coach and college counselor before being promoted to Director of Studies and ultimately, Assistant Head for Academic Affairs.

“I am thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to lead a school established by the vision of William Greenleaf Eliot in 1859, advanced by the vision of Lisa Lyle over the last twelve years and sustained by the vision of the faculty, administrators and trustees today,” Jay said. “I am committed to furthering educational opportunities for individual students in consonance with the MICDS Mission and current Strategic Plan, and I am equally committed to prioritizing a collective spirit of compassion, selflessness, and love of School during my tenure as Head. My family and I are grateful and excited to join such a proud and thriving School community.”

Jay has a warm, approachable presence and collaborative style that invites and respects all points of view. He values diversity and cares deeply about building and nurturing a welcoming, inclusive community where every member feels a sense of value and belonging. Data analysis informs Jay’s decision making. He is well-versed in national independent school trends and is focused on the affordability of an independent school education and long-term financial planning and sustainability. An experienced administrator, Jay brings knowledge and background in academics, admissions and enrollment management, arts, athletics, college counseling, communications and marketing, finance, fundraising and student health and wellness.

Members of the Randolph School and Norfolk Academy communities have shared that Jay is highly respected and valued by parents, alumni, faculty, administrators and Board members. They describe Jay as an insightful intellectual, a careful listener and a person of high integrity. Many have shared that students are at the heart of his work, and Jay prioritizes finding time for student connections.

Jay also has eight years of entrepreneurial and business experience. Among other pursuits, he founded a company in Chicago that developed diagnostic algorithms to expedite student preparation for standardized tests, which he eventually sold to Kaplan.

Jay earned a master’s degree from the College of William & Mary and an undergraduate degree from Princeton University.

An avid reader, Jay also enjoys playing piano, riding his bike and taking walks with his wife, Ruth. Jay and Ruth have two children, Jed (17) and Elizabeth (14), and an English bulldog named Silas.

Selecting the right Head of School for MICDS is the Board’s first and foremost responsibility, and the Board of Trustees is grateful to all who participated in the search process.

I want to extend a very special thank you to Search Committee Chair Julie Lilly ’86. Julie served our School with excellence, diligence, graciousness and a laser focus on what is best for MICDS.

I am also grateful to the Search Committee: Spencer Burke ’65, Parker Condie ’81, Andy Cowen, Edes Gilbert, Jeff Giles ’94, Janet Horlacher ’76, Julie Lilly ’86, Carla Pace, Bill Polk ’74, Mark Proctor and Kent Rapp ’76. This group quietly dedicated hundreds of hours to listening to our community, composing the Position Description, reading candidate dossiers, reviewing community survey results, speaking with references and interviewing and spending significant time with the finalist candidates.

Thanks also to the Advisory Committee chaired by Beau Brauer ’95. The Advisory Committee interviewed our three finalist candidates and provided important feedback to the Search Committee.

I also extend great appreciation to the many MICDS parents, alumni, faculty and administrators who shared their ideas and perspectives on the ideal qualities and attributes of MICDS’ next Head of School, attended the open forums and provided feedback to the Search Committee. The input was invaluable in shaping the Position Description, enumerating the qualities desired and selecting Jay as Head of School.

Finally, the Board is deeply grateful to Lisa Lyle for her exceptional leadership and outstanding service to our School. Lisa has taken our School to new heights, and I look forward to celebrating Lisa’s accomplishments and legacy throughout the school year.

We will be sharing multiple opportunities to meet and get to know Jay in the months ahead. In the meantime, please join me in extending a warm welcome to Jay, Ruth and their family!

Yours sincerely,

Michelle Leith Cohen ’88
Chair, Board of Trustees
Head of School Search Committee Member

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