Westlake Academy Hires New Executive Director

Hello Westlake Academy Community,

I have great news to convey - we have hired an incoming Executive Director for the Academy!  As I described in previous videos and communications, the process we used to identify our next educational and instructional leader was extensive and involved multiple discussions with the candidates, along with visits to the Academy to get to know our school. The finalists were evaluated through a multi-disciplinary team approach of speaking with staff from all Programme areas and had conversations with our Town Council as the governing body of the school.

I am pleased to announce that Mr. Sean Wilson will be our incoming Executive Director and will begin his full-time duties on June 1, 2022.  Mr. Wilson stood out as an immensely qualified educational leader and will bring vast experience in school leadership to our organization.  Sean has worked in academic settings in New Orleans for the past 16 years.  He has served as the Head of School for the International School of Louisiana (K- G8) and most currently, for the International High School of New Orleans (G9-G12) – a public, college-preparatory charter school that offers the IB Diploma Programme. 

Highlights from his time in education:

  • Extensive experience as a Head of School – more than 16 years in this role
  • Head of School in internationally focused schools in both a K-G8 and a G9-G12 setting
  • History of process and systems improvements in the school setting; including strategic planning, student enrollment, helping to align resources with funding, and creating a collaborative culture for staff
  • Increased teacher retention on campus to more than 90%
  • Strong supporter of the IB and understands the benefits this approach brings to students
  • Experienced leader in multi-language campuses: Arabic, French, Mandarin, Spanish, Vietnamese
  • Community builder who focuses on including stakeholder voices – created advisory committees for parents, staff, and students to meet with him and gain feedback at all levels of campus operations
  • Believes in strengthening instructional leaders on campus through a “set of core values and shared understandings to drive curriculum, partnership/professional development, and moving the campus forward in a collective, cooperative manner.”
  • Experience in fundraising for campus programs through philanthropic donations, federal grants, and corporate partnerships
  • Led school through growth phase – expanding from one to three campuses under his direction
  • Advocate for investing in staff through IB learning opportunities and growth as a learning team

Sean was selected for his broad experience in the Head of School role, for his commitment to creating and enhancing academic teams and developing culture at all levels, his support in leading through the delivery of an IB education, and empowering staff with the tools and autonomy to do what they love most – teach our students!

He is looking forward to continuing his educational leadership role at Westlake Academy and was initially drawn to our campus for our K-12 continuum offerings. He especially appreciates the student-centric nature of our school, the vast amount of community support for the work of the staff, and the IB environment and academic excellence.  Upon visiting the campus, he was even further inspired by the engagement of the staff and students, the dedication and experience of the Instructional Leadership Team, the broad level of programs (both academic, extra-curricular, and sports-related) that are offered to the students, and the intentional approach to fostering an IB learning environment.

We learned even more about his skills by speaking with references from multiple areas of his background.

In his role supporting teaching staff, he was described as:

“…charismatic, approachable, articulate, makes lasting connections with people, and believes in his employees.”   

A peer in charter leadership in New Orleans described him as:

“… a very caring individual – empathetic, thoughtful, sincere, personable and most importantly, genuine.”

When it came to student interactions, we heard:

The kids respected and liked him very much because he was outgoing and genuinely interested in what they were doing. He was always in the hallways never in the office. I think the kids saw him as a role model.” 

I also had staff provide feedback after they had a chance to interview Sean while he was at the Academy.  

  • He exhibited a clear understanding of the needs of a campus like ours and was able to pinpoint specific needs that are important to teachers.”
  • “I also believe he will be an excellent mentor to other leaders on our campus. He is a leader I would be very happy to be led by, and I know I could learn a lot from him.”
  • “In the interview, each point he articulated connected back to the vision of the campus and allowing all stakeholders to have a voice, which is how any successful organization is run and I appreciate that.”
  • “An excellent candidate that has the experience in strategic planning, building culture, and allowing the staff to move forward to support them in the alignment of IB programs. Community and teacher needs would be another strong point. He believes in allowing principals to do their job.”

Town Council members met with all the finalist candidates in executive session via Zoom and their assessment of Mr. Wilson was summarized by the statement, “Impressive! That man is a leader.”  They clearly conveyed that, in their opinion, his leadership experience combined with his depth of knowledge put him in a category ahead of the other candidates.   

Of added benefit to us, he is also pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership with an expected completion date in May of 2022, which will help to further guide our growth as a team and support the continued educational success of our students. 

Sean will be with us for intermittent visits between now and his official start date to transition leadership duties with Dr. Bryson, collaborate in hiring personnel, become familiar with our processes, and help prepare for the coming school year.

We invite you to be a part of an open house event to welcome Mr. Wilson on Thursday evening, the 31st of March from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.   You should receive an electronic invitation to the event within a few days.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you at the open house!  

Amanda DeGan

Town Manager, CEO/Superintendent