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Head of School Transition

Head of School Transition Communications

January 9, 2019

Dear MPH Community,

I am very happy to announce that the Board of Trustees has unanimously approved David J. McCusker, Jr. as our next Head of School, effective July 1, 2019.

Dave was previously head of school at the Cardigan Mountain School, where he served with distinction for nine years before taking on his current position as director of advancement for School Year Abroad.

During Dave’s tenure at Cardigan Mountain he led the school through significant enrollment growth, initiated innovative academic programs and expanded professional development opportunities for faculty and staff, and enhanced financial stability, including completion of a $50 million capital campaign, the largest in the school’s history.  Prior to his tenure at Cardigan, Dave served as director of development for two leading independent schools, St. Paul’s School (New Hampshire) and The Park School (Massachusetts).

Dave is a graduate of two of the schools he has served, Cardigan Mountain and St. Paul’s.  He received a B.A. in history from Dartmouth College, where he played varsity ice hockey, and has served as a Co-chair of the Bartlett Tower Society for the Dartmouth Class of ’88 planned giving efforts.  Professionally he has served on numerous independent school boards and associations.

Dave is married to Stephanie (“Steff”) G. McCusker, a graduate of The Derryfield School (New Hampshire) and Dave’s classmate at Dartmouth.  Steff is excited to become a part of the MPH community and is eager to support “in any way I can assist.” The McCuskers’ exceptional work together at Cardigan was recognized by the naming of a dormitory in their honor.

Dave and Steff have two grown children, Colin (25) and Cam (23), both recent college graduates and living in New England.

Dave has shared his excitement about joining the MPH community and leading the school’s efforts when MPH heads into its next academic year. “I am thrilled to be joining a school community that so clearly takes its academic program seriously, engenders an enthusiasm for learning, embraces diversity and inclusion, and fosters a culture of kindness. Steff and I very much enjoyed our visits and meeting so many members of the MPH family. It quickly became obvious to us what a special place this is, and we are excited to move to the Syracuse area and become part of the MPH community.”

Many members of the community had the opportunity to meet Dave during his two visits to MPH. In the feedback surveys, he was consistently described as genuine, thoughtful, insightful, down to earth, a good listener, and authentic, and an overwhelming majority could see him as MPH’s next head of school.

I want to thank the members of the search committee, Candace Campbell Jackson, Kimberly Townsend, Peter Maier, and Evan Dreyfuss for the extraordinary time and care that resulted in this exciting appointment.  I also want to recognize the invaluable assistance of our Carney Sandoe consultants, Peter O’Neill and Jennifer Christensen.

Finally, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to express our deep appreciation to the entire MPH community for all your support in this important process.

We could not be more delighted with the outcome of our search process, and we look forward to introducing Dave and Steff to the community in the coming months and to Dave’s leadership in the years ahead.


John Mezzalingua ’85

President, Board of Trustees



December 17, 2018

Dear MPH Community,

The Search Committee has been very busy. We’ve all been impressed with the quality of the candidates we have attracted from across the country, though, for reasons of experience and cultural fit, we decided to pass on the last two candidates. Our process is working—it’s a thorough one involving multiday interviews and deep reference checks, and we haven’t wavered from the high standards we set for ourselves back in June.

On Monday we had a preliminary visit from our most experienced candidate yet, one who had initially expressed interest only in an interim appointment. It will come as no surprise to all who are connected to MPH that this candidate was so energized by the school and excited about the growth opportunities the school presents that, in a span of 24 hours, our discussion moved past interim to one of a continuing position.

We have invited him and his wife to return for a second, more extensive visit so that our full community may have an opportunity to meet him and provide us with additional valuable feedback.  They will be visiting campus on January 3-4, immediately after the holiday break.  We will provide additional information about the candidate and the schedule of community meetings shortly before his visit.

The Search Committee is grateful for the positive engagement of the entire MPH community in this important process, and we welcome and encourage your participation in this next step.

Warm wishes for the Holidays,

John Mezzalingua ’85
President of the Board of Trustees


October 24, 2018

Dear MPH Community,

Many thanks for the warm welcome you gave to the two candidates who visited earlier this month. They were both deeply impressed by MPH’s student-centered, engaged, and kind community, and they appreciated your thoughtful questions and comments. The Search Committee also appreciated the feedback you provided on the follow up surveys.

Unfortunately, neither candidate will be MPH’s next Head of School. The Search Committee and our Search Consultants from Carney, Sandoe & Associates are energetically working to connect with other compelling candidates, and we will keep you posted as the search evolves.


John Mezzalingua ’85
President, Board of Trustees and Search Committee Chair


October 10, 2018

Dear MPH Community,

The Search Committee has continued its active review of our pool of semi-finalist candidates for the head of school position. That review has led to the selection of a second strong candidate for a campus visit, scheduled for Monday, October 15.

As with our first candidate visiting this Friday, meetings will be scheduled for parents, faculty, staff, administration, and students to meet Monday’s candidate during his visit. Two meetings are scheduled for parents:

Monday, 10/15     8:15 – 9:10 a.m., dining room

Monday, 10/15     2:30 – 3:25 p.m., theater

Amy Critz in the head’s office will again be in touch with details about when and where each of the remaining groups will have an opportunity to meet the candidate.  We will again ask participants to complete the online survey to provide additional valuable feedback for the Search Committee.

More information about our second candidate will be shared prior to the visit.  We are excited to have two well-qualified candidates visiting MPH, and we thank you for your continued time, energy, and engagement in this important process.


John Mezzalingua ’85
President, Board of Trustees and Search Committee Chair


October 4, 2018

Dear MPH Community,

In our last update, the Search Committee shared that we selected a strong group of semi-finalists for the Head of School position.  The process of scheduling those candidates for confidential interviews with the search committee is well underway.  To move the search ahead in a timely way and to ensure we do not lose strong candidates, we are accelerating campus visits when possible and where appropriate.

One of our candidates will be visiting campus next Friday, October 12.  Meetings will be scheduled for parents, faculty, staff, administration, and students to meet the candidate during that visit.

Parents will have two opportunities to meet the candidate:

Friday, October 12, 2:30 – 3:25 p.m., in the theater

Saturday, October 13, 8:30 – 9:30 a.m., in the theater

Amy Critz from the head’s office will be in touch with details about when and where each of the remaining groups will have an opportunity to meet the candidate. Everyone who participates in meetings will be asked to complete an online survey to provide valuable feedback for the Search Committee.

More information about the candidate will be shared the day before the visit.  We are excited to welcome this talented educational leader to MPH and look forward to getting to know her/him better. As we prepare for this, and possible other candidates’ visits, we are thinking about how to not only evaluate the candidates, but also how to highlight and showcase our wonderful school, warm community, and terrific CNY location. While we hope you’ll be open about any challenges when meeting the candidate, we ask that you’ll be equally candid about what you love and appreciate about the school and your hopes for our community.

Many thanks in advance for your time, energy, and engagement in this important process.


John Mezzalingua ’85
President, Board of Trustees and Search Committee Chair


September 28, 2018

We are pleased to share with the MPH community the substantial progress we are making in our search for our next Head of School.  Since visiting campus, our Carney Sandoe & Associates consultants, Peter O’Neill and Jennifer Christensen, reached out to over 4,000 educators in independent, public, charter, and higher education. In addition, they contacted everyone nominated by the MPH community, and they thank you for your thoughtful suggestions and engagement. They reviewed over 80 candidates who have been identified as interested in our school.  They spoke directly with over 30 of those candidates, and they recently presented to the Search Committee a strong pool of candidates who have completed formal applications and whom they have recommended for our consideration.

At the recent meeting of the Search Committee, we selected a strong group of candidates whom we have invited to be semi-finalists in our search.  We are scheduling interviews with those candidates to be conducted by the Search Committee by mid-October.  Following those interviews the Search Committee will select a small group of finalists who will be scheduled for two-day visits at the end of October.  At that time the entire MPH community will have an opportunity to meet the finalists and provide us with valuable feedback about who will be the best person to be our next Head of School.



August 8, 2018

We’re excited to share the Position Description for the Head of School. Many thanks to all in the community who completed the Community Survey, contributed to reports, and spoke to the CS&A Search Consultants. Your input helped to craft this comprehensive document that will help candidates learn about MPH. Recruitment of candidates is well underway.

July 25, 2018

On July 24 and 25, Jennifer Christensen and Peter O’Neill, the two consultants from Carney Sandoe, and Associates who are partnering with MPH in our Head of School search, visited campus and met with almost 100 community members in order to get to know our school. Many thanks to the students, faculty, staff, administrators, parents, and Trustees who generously took the time to share their thoughts, experiences, and perspectives. Peter and Jennifer loved hearing everyone’s stories and were deeply impressed by MPH’s strong student-centered focus, warmth, and sense of community. They also toured campus and had some time to explore the surrounding area to get a better sense of the wonderful opportunities the Syracuse area has to offer.

In addition to their visit, Peter and Jennifer are also learning more about MPH through a variety of reports, admission literature, and the community survey (thanks to everyone who filled that out). All of this information will be helpful to them as they speak to candidates about the position and as they put together a Position Description, which will be posted here in August.

July 16 Open Meetings for Parents

July 9 Search Committee Announced

June 11 Letter from Jim Dunaway

June 11 Letter from John Mezzalingua

Search Committee

The Board of Trustees has appointed a search committee of five trustees, chaired by Board President John Mezzalingua ’85. These trustees reflect a broad spectrum of the MPH community, including alumni, past parents, and current parents, and possess the critical experience in executive hiring. The search committee members are

  • Candace Campbell Jackson, grandparent of a former student, Trustee since 2017
  • Peter Meier, parent of three MPH graduates, Trustee from 2018
  • Evan Dreyfuss, treasurer of the MPH Board, parent of two current students, Trustee since 2015
  • Kim Townsend, parent of graduate and current student, Trustee since 2017

More Information

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