Walnut Hill School for the Arts

Head of School Search

Walnut Hill School for the Arts recently announced that it will be conducting a comprehensive search for its next Head of School who will be hired for a July 2022 start. The Walnut Hill Board has appointed a Head of School Search Committee and that group has enlisted a consulting team from Resource Group 175 (RG175) to manage the search process.

Input from all members of our community will assist us in identifying the critical skills, experience and vision necessary to ensure the future growth and success of Walnut Hill. Our next leader will be charged with helping us realize our fundraising, strategic and School-wide goals. This is an opportunity to attract a Head of School who will continue to enhance and improve upon a Walnut Hill education while upholding our core values.

This page will be updated as the search progresses. Please check back regularly throughout the next few months.

Position Statement for Head of School

Candidate for Head of School

Dr. Monica Benton Palmer 

Dr. Palmer earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master’s in Fine Arts at Columbia University. She earned a second Master’s degree in Education at Teachers College at Columbia, and a Doctorate in Education at the University of Pennsylvania where she chose to write her dissertation on financial sustainability in Midwestern independent boarding schools.    

Dr. Palmer started her career as a professional actor in independent film, soap operas, and theater productions in New York and California. While auditioning for roles, Dr. Palmer worked as an arts placement coordinator, advisor, and performing arts professor and also began to work in educational settings for arts organizations, including public, charter, and higher education institutions. She taught acting at Barnard College, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University, Catholic University, and American University.   

Today, Dr. Palmer serves as the Dean of Faculty at Governor’s Academy in Massachusetts, where she supports the Head of School in the overall management and oversight of the Academy while still continuing to teach an introductory acting course to all ninth-grade students and direct the fall play production. Previous to her work at Governor’s, Dr. Palmer served as the Director of Fine and Performing Arts at Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois, and Department Chair of Fine and Performing Arts, Admissions and Enrollment Manager for Diversity Outreach, as well as Liaison to the Parent’s Association, at the Madeira School in McLean, Virginia.

Dr. Palmer has served on a number of boards, including the Association of Independent Schools New England (AISNE), Brookwood School, Montessori School of Lake Forest, and Fessenden School where she is currently a member of the Finance and Strategic Planning committees.  


Search Committee

Derrick Harkins, Parent '18
Trustee and Committee Chair

Betsy Paine McClendon '65
Trustee, Board President, and Committee Vice Chair

David Edelman, Parent '18

Nicole Gakidis '81, Parent '18

Jenny McAuliffe, Parent '15
Trustee and Board Vice President

Benny Ibarra De LLano '89, Parent '17/'21, Trustee

HaeSun Paik '83, Parent '21

Amy Wheeler

Niki Conraths
Arts Advisor to the Head of School

Kathy Liu
Science Department Faculty Member

Amanda D'Angelo
Associate Director of Student Life