Head Search announcement

Dear Members of Palm Valley School Community,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and our Head of School Search Committee, it is with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of Dr. Steven Sherman, Ed.D. as our next Head of School. The Board was unanimous in its support of the Search Committee’s enthusiastic recommendation of Steve, based on an extensive and highly competitive national search process.

With over three decades of leadership, management, and teaching experience, Steve is an ideal choice.  As Chief Executive Officer at Maranatha High School, he was responsible for the operation of the entire school, providing visionary and informative leadership to the Board of Trustees and the entire school community. He was responsible for policy/program implementation, oversight and management of a 17-million-dollar operating budget.  During his tenure, highlights include: AP/SAT Scores improved almost 20% school-wide, fundraising and development of a Technology Integration Learning Environment Lab including a Maker Space with 3D printers and laser cutter, the acquisition of multiple major gifts through enhanced donor cultivation, implementation of a new Advisory Program, enhanced employee 403b, and a complete overhaul of the College Counseling Department.

Steve has served in and led the essential roles of an independent school, as parent, educator, coach, dean, administrator, and leader. He has helped lead the articulation of mission and diversity, equity, and inclusion statements. He states, “I believe strongly in a holistic approach to education.  I believe teaching and learning don’t take place only within the confines of a classroom, but also exist in the ubiquitous daily personal interactions on athletic fields, at lunch tables, in hallways, etc. Approaching education from a whole child perspective, allows the student autonomy and voice.”

Dr. Sherman has earned both Doctorate and Master’s Degrees in Educational Leadership at Azusa Pacific University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from California State University Northridge. A Southern California native, our Coachella Valley will forever be “hometown” for Steve and his wife, Karen.

Throughout his career, Steve has demonstrated a commitment to fostering learning that promotes intellectual depth and the critical faculties, deep engagement with the arts, ethics and compassion. The Search Committee was particularly impressed not only by his experience and educational philosophy, but also his commitment to the value of developing relationships, his dedication to supporting each student, and his readiness to define our vision and to promote our mission throughout the Coachella Valley. He brings a combination of vision, intelligence, thoughtfulness, and a deep dedication to making Palm Valley the best it can be.

He believes Palm Valley has a core strength: clarity about who we are and what we strive to achieve, and such clarity of culture and mission is the story we need to tell. “It will be a privilege to work with all members of the Firebird family to help channel that power, as well as the creativity and potential of the community, and to lead Palm Valley into its bright future.”

Steve is well-prepared and eager to build on the solid base Susan Rice has built during her tenure as Head of School. We look forward to a great future for Palm Valley with his leadership.

I would like to acknowledge the tireless efforts of the Search Committee. I thank all of the students, administration, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents who provided such thoughtful feedback during the search. Your observations were heartfelt, insightful, and of great value in our process.

Over the coming months, we will keep you informed of events to both honor Susan and introduce Steve as Head of School. To such end, a Transition Committee will lead the effort to assist Dr. Sherman as he prepares to take the helm, leading our school into its next chapter.

Please join me in welcoming the Sherman Family to their new place in our community.


Jennifer Jenkins

President, Board of Trustees

Dear Firebird Community:

Palm Valley School has established itself as an exceptional school community with an emphasis on individual student attention and a responsibility to self and others.  It is with eager anticipation that I accept the Head of School position. The opportunity to lead the school into the next chapter of its history is both humbling and exciting.

To the Board of Trustees and Search Committee, thank you for your diligence, hard work, and belief in me.  In particular, thank you to Search Chair Cherise Sonderman and Board President Jennifer Jenkins for their insight, guidance, and leadership throughout the search process.  They exemplified what I found to be true of the entire Firebird Community: a passion and love for their school, a strong belief in the uniqueness of each child, and a warm, welcoming spirit.

Having served in a variety of roles in schools over the past 35 years, the one constant has been the development of deep and enduring relationships that are grounded in mutual trust and respect.  I am eager to begin developing these relationships at Palm Valley and to embrace the opportunities and challenges at our school and those inherent in independent school life.

Great schools strive to provide a personalized approach for each child that concentrates on their unique and individual talents.  They accomplish this while continuing to cultivate the curiosity and skills needed in this ever-changing global, technological society in which we live.  I deeply value the trust that parents place in schools to educate their children and intend to work diligently to help all students create the “best version of themselves”.

I was deeply impressed by the warmth, breadth of experience, and collaborative spirit of the faculty during my visit to Palm Valley.  There is a great benefit in working with a dynamic administrative team and partnering with an accomplished and professional faculty and staff.

To my new community, I look forward to bringing a commitment to and passion for children.  I am most fulfilled when surrounded by students in their daily learning environment. Their growth through varied interactions in the classroom, during extra-curricular activities, and daily school life inspires me.

Palm Valley is truly a special place and it will be a privilege to partner with the school community to benefit all.  My wife, Karen, and I are excited to be moving to the Coachella Valley to join the Firebird family. I will work tirelessly to honor the trust and responsibility that I have been given.

I can’t wait to begin our journey together….


Steven Sherman, Ed.D.