October 12, 2012
Columbus Academy’s Board of Trustees announced on October 12 that Melissa Boocock Soderberg will become just the eighth – and first female – Head of School at Columbus Academy beginning July 1, 2013. She is currently Upper School Director at the Breck School in Golden Valley, Minnesota.
“We are thrilled to have Ms. Soderberg and her family join our community,” said Board of Trustees Chair Poe Timmons, “and we are confident that she will carry on the fine work of John Mackenzie and lead Columbus Academy to continued success in the future.”
Ms. Soderberg is an accomplished independent school educator with a background strong in leadership. She brings a great many experiences from her roles as a division head, college counseling director, dean of students, history teacher and numerous coaching positions in addition to extensive work in finance, admissions and development. In addition to her professional experience, Ms. Soderberg brings a fine academic pedigree with degrees from Middlebury College and the Teachers College at Columbia University, where she was a Joseph Klingenstein Fellow. In keeping with Columbus Academy's commitment to developing the mind, body and character of its students, Ms. Soderberg understands the balance among the three as she is herself an accomplished independent-school student and teacher, former All-American athlete, and one who has evidenced a strong commitment to developing the whole child in the context of a strong ethical school community.
“I have known Columbus Academy much of my life as one of the strongest schools in ISACS, as it enjoys an enviable reputation in the independent school community," said Ms. Soderberg. "Obviously, the core of that reputation comes from the rigorous academic program, but in recent years Columbus Academy has revealed itself to be very forward-thinking with diversity strategies, securing a significant grant to further financial aid, and finding new ways to develop ethical initiatives while maintaining its character as a school with a rich history.”
She will replace John Mackenzie, who will depart in June following 16 years of leading Columbus Academy to unprecedented growth and success.
“As I spent time with the incredibly thoughtful faculty, smart and introspective students, caring parents, loyal alumni, and devoted and energetic administrators and trustees during my recent visit, I began to more deeply understand and appreciate the impact of John Mackenzie's steady leadership of the school and its constituents,” Ms. Soderberg stated. “I am humbled to have the amazing opportunity to lead -- and have my family be a part of -- a school that so appealingly melds character and academic rigor while it seeks to be self-examining in curricular practice and service outreach. I cannot imagine a better place than Columbus Academy for my family to call home.”
This appointment is the result of an extensive international search in which the board search committee and a specially appointed advisory committee screened and interviewed a number of exceptional candidates.
“We heard from our community as a whole its desire for a Head of School who will lead our school with vision, integrity and commitment,” said Ms. Timmons, speaking on behalf of the Trustees and search committee co-chairs Katharine Mallory and Kevin Reeves. “We believe that we have found an individual who possesses those qualities and who will weigh every decision based on the best interests of Columbus Academy and the students it serves. We are confident that Ms. Soderberg's capacity for visionary leadership, commitment to education in the 21st century, personal warmth and deep appreciation for Columbus Academy's traditions will serve our community well.”
Ms. Soderberg's husband, Dr. John Soderberg, is Managing Director of the Anthropology Laboratories at the University of Minnesota. They have two sons, Angus and Philip.
Media coverage and related links: Columbus Dispatch, The Women's Book, ThisWeek News, Head of School Search Information.