RANCHO MIRAGE — Palm Valley School, a private college-preparatory, school, is seeking an interim head of school as Susan Rice concludes her tenure with the 2019-2020 school year.

Rice, who has been with Palm Valley School for five years, has accepted an appointment as the next Head of School at the Charles Wright Academy, a private college preparatory school, in Tacoma, Wash., effective July 1, 2020.

“I am leaving to take an opportunity in a bigger city where my husband can return to working in the tech industry (he lived in Seattle and worked for Microsoft for many years prior to us getting married),” Rice told Uken Report. “We also have family in that area, so it’s a great fit for us.”

In the letter announcing her departure from Palm Valley School, Rice said, “Learning, leading, and teaching at Palm Valley School has been one of the greatest joys of my career. I will cherish the relationships and connections that I have made here with

Palm Valley School

Palm Valley School

, faculty, and families, beyond any means of measure. I love Palm Valley School and the community it serves. Your future here is very bright and in great hands for continued success and growth.”

Rice joined the Palm Valley Community in the summer of 2015 as the Head of the Lower School. Since that time, she held the positions of Interim Head of School, and then as the Head of School where she has served from June 2016 to present.

During her tenure, she lists among her accomplishments establishing new programs, events, and traditions. In addition, she lists stabilizing enrollment, increasing fundraising efforts, and expanding the preschool program.

During her time at Palm Valley School, Rice worked on behalf of Palm Valley School to secure a full 7-year re-accreditation term with California Association of Independent Schools, completed many initiatives of the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan including work in curriculum, technology integration, diversity initiatives, and other impactful areas for students, according of the president of the Board of Trustees. Together, they vital programmatic and curricular changes and improvements, increased family giving participation by 30%, implemented a structured communications plan, expanded the Early Childhood Education program and continued to provide an exceptional learning community for hundreds of children and families in the valley.

The Board of Trustees is currently searching for an Interim Head of School to take over for Rice in July of 2020.

The Board of Trustees has already begun to identify the core characteristics vital in an ideal candidate for the next Head of School who will ideally embrace and enhance the community and culture.

“We have already met with several top candidates and will continue to do so until we find the right person who embodies the vision, capability, knowledge, and passion necessary to continue Palm Valley’s cutting edge educational initiatives and supportive environment,” Jennifer Jenkins, president of the Board of Trustees, said in a letter to families. “We are looking for all the important characteristics of a dynamic Head of School: enthusiasm, kindness, rigor, honesty, and respect for our children, families, teachers, and staff. ”

Following is the timeline outlined for hiring the Palm Valley School interim head of school:

  • Application deadline is December 1, 2019
  • Candidates reviewed ongoing as submissions are received
  • Preliminary interviews to be held ongoing, with semi-finalists selected by December 15, 2019
  • Semi-finalist interviews held in mid-late December
  • Finalists invited to visit campus in January 2020
  • Candidate offer made in February 2020


Image Sources

  • Palm Valley School: Palm Valley School
  • Susan Rice: Palm Valley School