Annie Wright Schools’ Board of Trustees announced today their unanimous decision to appoint Jake Guadnola as the next Head of Schools, beginning July 1, 2020. Guadnola will succeed Christian G. Sullivan, who announced in October that he will step down as Head of Annie Wright Schools in June 2020, after serving in the headship role for ten years.
Raised in Tacoma, Guadnola currently works for and is an alumnus of Annie Wright Schools. He graduated among the first class of boys to go through Annie Wright Middle School. In his 20-year career at Annie Wright Schools, Guadnola has served in a range of roles including English & Humanities Teacher, Basketball Coach, Director of College Counseling, Director of Summer Programming, Interim Director of Admissions, Assistant Director of Upper School, and most recently, Director of Upper School for Girls.
“We are thrilled that in Jake, Annie Wright Schools will be served by an experienced educator and visionary leader with a proven track record, and a passionate and committed member of the Annie Wright and South Sound communities,” said Michele Bessler, Chair of the Annie Wright Schools’ Board of Trustees.
After completing Grade 8 at Annie Wright Middle School, Guadnola went on to graduate from Bellarmine Preparatory School, class of 1994. He then earned his BA from Pomona College where his successful basketball career led to his induction into the college’s Athletic Hall of fame in 2008. Guadnola later attended Harvard University where we earned his EdM.
“Annie Wright Schools have played a profound role in my life, both personally and professionally, and it is a sincere honor to be named Head of Schools,” said Jake Guadnola. “Working with this dedicated faculty and inspired Board of Trustees, I will ensure we remain a student-centered institution, one that positively impacts the lives of children. Together we will move Annie Wright Schools from strength to strength.”
During Guadnola’s tenure, Annie Wright Upper School for Girls nearly doubled in size, and retention reached more than 92%. He also created models for revenue generation, evolved signature programming, oversaw International Baccalaureate programming and led a number of innovative student-centered initiatives, including, just this year, a late start schedule to address adolescent needs for sleep and exercise.
Guadnola’s wife, Stacey, Director of Philanthropic Engagement for the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, worked alongside him for several years at Annie Wright, most recently on the Senior Leadership Team as both Director of Admissions and Director of Philanthropy. Stacey remains an active parent, volunteer and champion of the school. Their two young sons are actively engaged in all areas of school life at Annie Wright.
In October Christian G. Sullivan accepted the headship position at Bullis School outside Washington, DC. Sullivan has been a visionary change maker for Annie Wright Schools. Enrollment is at a historic high, a five-day boarding option now optimizes the experience of domestic and international students, an extensive journeys program has become a seamless part of the Middle School experience, and a year-round Preschool program serves a range of families. The school implemented the Primary Years Programme and Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate. During his tenure, Sullivan and the Board of Trustees led two strategic plans; the first has been entirely fulfilled and the current plan is well on its way to completion. These initiatives include prioritizing an institution-wide commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; strengthening Annie Wright’s Preschool through Grade 12 athletic program; growing the endowment to its current level of $27 million; opening AWS in Qingdao, China; creating a boys’ upper school division, and building an all-weather sports field, a third gymnasium with a competitive swimming pool, and a new academic building to house the Upper School for Boys.
Sullivan is working closely with Guadnola to recruit the next Director of Upper School for Girls. An announcement of this appointment will follow in early 2020.