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CEO Search Process

Dr. Patrick Widhalm announced his intention to retire as head of school in June 2023 at the September 2022 AAEE board meeting.  As a result, an ad hoc Head of School Search Committee was appointed by the Board President, Alea Cot, at the October 2022 board meeting. The committee is chaired by Charmaine Cooper Hussain. A Request for Proposals to solicit an executive search firm was released on Oct. 19, 2022. The committee recommended The K12 Search Group as search firm, and the board approved them at the November 2022 board meeting. After the search process was unsuccessful at finding a suitable candidate, we reimagined the leadership structure entirely in the fall of 2023. 

In the past, we have operated with a head of school supported by two assistant principals; currently, our two assistant principals are serving as interim co-heads of school, and we are grateful for their leadership. We believe, however, it is time to evolve the executive leadership structure to establish a foundation for continued success. For this reason, the board voted at its August 2023 meeting to establish two new positions for the 2024-25 school year. The first position, a chief executive officer, or CEO, will have ultimate responsibility for the school and report directly to the AAEE Board of Directors. The CEO will directly supervise business and managerial personnel. The second position, a principal, will have direct responsibility for all academic aspects of the school, including students, faculty, counselors, and curriculum. We believe these two roles require two different skill sets, and by creating two positions, we can fill each with the strongest candidate.

K12 made approximately 275 networking connections and received 16 applicants for the CEO role. The CEO Search Subcommittee of the AAEE Board interviewed six candidates and brought two finalists to campus on Jan. 10, 2024, for a day of interviews with various stakeholder groups. Following feedback from students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni, and after thorough deliberation and vetting, the subcommittee made a recommendation to the board to extend an offer to Mr. Alex Jarrell, and the board affirmed this decision in a unanimous vote on Jan. 12, 2024.

Mr. Jarrell  holds a B.A. from Northwestern University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.S. in education entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania. He most recently served as the Chief Innovation Officer at New Schools for New Orleans, where he led the citywide school support strategy and won the federal Teacher and School Leader, or TSL, and SEED grants, bringing over $25 million dollars to New Orleans to better recruit and retain teachers. He also cofounded the E3 Fellowship, which develops aspiring and new charter network leaders. Prior to that, he served as a teacher and principal at KIPP Central City. You can read Mr. Jarrell's résumé here.

The board is now in negotiations with Mr. Jarrell with the intention of having him in this role by this spring. In conjunction with the board and other stakeholders, he will focus on searching for and hiring a principal as one of his first tasks. We will share updates as the process continues. 

AAEE CEO Search Subcommittee 2023


Charmaine Hussain, Governance Committee, parent of alumnus


Jill Condon, Chair of Audit Committee, parent of current student

Alea Cot, Board President, Ex-Officio, parent of alumna
Tim Duncan, Board Member, parent of current student
Dolly Malik, Board Member, parent of alumni

Alexis Parent-Ferrouillet ‘96, Chair of Academic Policy Committee
Todd Ragusa, Chair of Marketing Committee
Bebe Ryan '95, Community Representative
Mitchell Turnbough, Chair of Facilities Committee, parent of current students

Kate Youngblood '09, United Teachers of Franklin Representative

Meeting Dates

Oct. 18, 2023, 4 p.m. (Agenda, Minutes)
Nov. 1, 2023, 4 p.m. (Agenda, Minutes)
Nov. 15, 2023, 4 p.m. (Agenda, Minutes)

Nov. 29, 2023, 4 p.m. (Agenda, Minutes)

Dec. 6, 2023, 4:30 p.m. (Agenda, Minutes)
Dec. 12, 2023, 4 p.m. (Agenda, no minutes due to Executive Session)
Dec. 14, 2023, 4 p.m. (Agenda, no minutes due to Executive Session)
Dec. 18, 2023, 3 p.m. (Agenda, no minutes due to Executive Session)
Jan. 12, 2024, 3:30 p.m. (Agenda, no minutes due to Executive Session)

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