Dear CCES Community:
I want to share my gratitude for the privilege of serving as the eighth headmaster of Christ Church Episcopal School. At school and in the community, I have been blessed by friendships, collegiality, and collaboration. From my arrival on campus on a weekend in mid-August 2006 when Bill Preston, Doug Qualls' predecessor, greeted me warmly and gave me a tour, I have lived and worked among the kindest and most generous people I know.
Nancy and I have been captivated by this city and state from the outset. We are forever thankful that we landed in what we call “a little piece of heaven on earth.” We arrived in Greenville as it was experiencing a rebirth and continue to marvel at what a wonderful city in which we are blessed to live. We feel utterly fortunate to have developed lifelong friendships at this stage of our lives.
The opportunity to serve CCES has consummated my career as an educator. I am inspired by the school and humbled to serve it. The scholarship and character of teachers set the bar high. The faculty ask a great deal of themselves and expect creditable performance from others. They do not settle for “good enough”; instead they strive for excellence. In the same manner, our leadership team is world-class, completely devoid of territoriality but ruthlessly responsible for his or her work assignment, and both zealous and prudent in promoting the common good.
I have felt summoned from the beginning of my tenure to treasure the traditions and culture of the school. I have also felt obligated to mediate change amidst respect for our history. Having served two secular schools as headmaster, I cherish the difference that an Episcopal school makes in the lives that it touches. Our Episcopal identity promotes character and community through common worship and a tradition of revering justice and equity for all. CCES does things right in all respects. It places a priority on character development and promotes open and civil discourse. It challenges students to think independently and deeply. It cultivates a venturesome spirit and a warm heart. Our graduates testify annually to the care and attention that they experienced at CCES.
CCES is a happy school where respect and a sense of belonging predominate. Our faculty and staff love their work and adore their school. They hold one another in high regard. They generously support and encourage one another. Students are proud of their school and look forward to each day. Parents lavish praise on the school, especially thankful when they observe the ease and success of transition into college. No school can boast a better volunteer spirit than CCES.
I have been honored to serve under four distinctive board chairs: Edgar Norris, Eva-Marie Fox, Shane Taylor, and Cary Weekes. Each chair exemplifies love for the school, a collaborative spirit, backbone and compassion, excellent judgment and taste, and skillful leadership. These board chairs were and are wonderful leaders and partners who masterfully orchestrate ambitious agendas and harmonize the abundant talents of other board members. I anticipate remarkable achievements under Cary’s leadership.
CCES is a headmaster’s dream school. I have had the privilege to have lived that dream as its Headmaster for ten years and plan to make every moment of my remaining tenure here joyfully productive.
In June 2020, I will retire, and in July a new Headmaster will be installed. Even though it will be hard to leave such a great community, I happily realize that my successor will inherit a school in tip-top shape. It has the resources and roadmap to continue to soar into this bold new century.
In the year and a half leading up to my departure, I will dedicate myself to weaving the Strategic Plan into the fabric of the school. I will give my all to working with the new Middle School Director to establish his or her leadership presence. We have a gameplan to build endowment to ensure long-term financial health. I am all in on that effort. I plan to make the most of collaborating on the general and standard operations of the school with my talented and tireless administrative colleagues. To be sure, I will do all that I can to ease the transition for my successor and this community. Finally, I am determined to have the pleasure of savoring the instructional artistry of this gifted faculty. I will enact the resolve of Robert Frost’s speaker in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”: “But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep.”
Yours very truly,
A response from CCES Board Chair, Cary Weekes
November 13, 2018
To the CCES Community,
I write to confirm the news that our beloved Headmaster, Dr. Leonard Kupersmith, plans to retire with the class of 2020 in June of that year. Leonard shared his intention with the Board of Trustees several months ago, making it official with his letter today. He shared his plans with the faculty and staff in person this afternoon. On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees and past Trustees that have had the pleasure of working with him, I would like to offer my deep appreciation to Leonard for his thoughtful, steady, and principled leadership and express our gratitude and admiration for his tireless dedication to our wonderful school. We are grateful for the next 20 months that CCES will continue to benefit from Leonard’s leadership. I rest assured his commitment to excellence in all areas for CCES will be unwavering during this time.
Leonard has served CCES since 2008, first as Headmaster under Lee Cox, and then as the sole leader of the school as Headmaster from 2010 until today, making him the longest serving Headmaster in the school’s history. Throughout Leonard’s tenure he has exhibited integrity, grit, and great depth of character when making important and sometimes difficult decisions to steer the ship. His engagement in our community is unmatched, and we are fortunate to have a leader who has championed CCES’s academics, athletics, the arts, and our Episcopal values and traditions.
A seasoned academic, Leonard also sees the complementary value in our sports program, which has garnered 33 state championships since 2010. Just a few years ago, he fought tirelessly to secure equity for CCES in the South Carolina High School League, preventing the non-public schools from facing unfair competitive penalties. Through the Faith in the Future campaign the athletic department improved our athletic facilities through a new track, extending the Linda Reeves Field to make room for the new lacrosse program, producing a new tennis facility, converting the former tennis courts into practice fields, and constructing the Robertson-Navarro Baseball Pavilion. That same campaign created the Achievement Center and, of course, the Hartness Performing Arts Center, perhaps the largest jewel in the school’s crown. All of these efforts have raised our academic, athletic, and arts programs to levels unsurpassed by our peers.
Leonard has also achieved many things where the results aren’t as outwardly visible as a new building. He has ushered in an era of great financial health for the school while also recruiting a superb faculty offering best-in-state academics. Leonard also assembled a best-in-class administrative team, restructured the admissions and advancement offices, and streamlined the executive reporting structure. But perhaps most importantly is the blossoming sense of community we all feel at CCES. That comes in part from collaborative response to the HumaneX survey and other initiatives, but is just as much a factor of Leonard’s desire to connect with others. I don’t think I’m stepping too far to say that never has a Headmaster in the nearly 60-year history of CCES known the names, colleges attended, occupations, and hobbies of so many students, parents, faculty, staff and other community members.
Leonard’s legacy at CCES will surely endure, but perhaps nothing will be more durable or impactful than the new Strategic Plan. Leonard worked tirelessly for two years to bring our bold and dynamic Strategic Plan to fruition and is now overseeing its implementation. A parent recently told me she can already see that this Plan isn’t just a marketing tool collecting dust, but an articulate and inspired vision for the future of CCES, the impact of which is already being felt by teachers, students, and parents. We are only just starting Year Two of implementation, and when it is fully in place by 2022, this Plan will have touched the lives of all current students, then those that will come after, leaving an indelible imprint on their lives. Leonard’s leadership was crucial in the gestation and birth. All of Leonard’s accomplishments provide a solid foundation from which his successor can build, ensuring that CCES continues to thrive, both internally and externally, well into the future.
The Board of Trustees is grateful that Leonard, in true Leonard fashion, has been measured and thoughtful in sharing his plans for retirement so early with us. A lesser leader might not have been willing to be so open this far in advance, but Leonard sees the value in setting CCES and our next Headmaster up for success with ample planning time for the transition. Getting out of the blocks ahead of most of the field, the Board of Trustees recently hired Spencer Stuart, a globally-known search consulting firm, to assist in the selection of the new Headmaster and in the transition from Leonard to the new leader. We believe Spencer Stuart will yield the best possible group of candidates from which we will choose our next head. I have been reassured by all the consultants interviewed that this timing puts CCES in the best possible position to seek and find a new Headmaster to usher the school to further levels of excellence.
It is my intention to communicate with the CCES community often through this process. Please expect to hear from me very soon with more details on the search process, including an opportunity to meet our consultants and directly share your views on the search, the current state of CCES, and your hopes for the next Headmaster. In the meantime, please join me and the Board of Trustees in thanking Leonard for his impressive and influential leadership.
Cary H. Weekes
Chair, Board of Trustees