Message from Palm Valley School, 9/26

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves." - Anatole France

Dear Palm Valley School Community,

It is with bittersweetness in my heart that I share with you this important announcement. I will be concluding my tenure at Palm Valley School with the 2019-2020 school year. I have recently accepted an appointment as the next Head of School at the Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, WA, effective July 1, 2020. While we have loved our almost five years in the valley, a move to the pacific northwest area is something that will allow my husband, Tim, to return to a significant role in the tech industry. Prior to us living in San Francisco, my husband lived in Seattle and worked for Microsoft for more than a decade. As born and raised Alaskans, we both have a strong connection to the pacific northwest. This move assists both my desire to continue leading in independent schools that align strongly with my educational philosophy, and for my husband’s career to continue to thrive as well.

Learning, leading, and teaching at Palm Valley School has been one of the greatest joys of my career. I will cherish the relationships and connections that I have made here with students, faculty, and families, beyond any means of measure. I love Palm Valley School and the community it serves. Your future here is very bright and in great hands for continued success and growth.

As many of you know, I joined the Palm Valley Community in the summer of 2015 as the Head of the Lower School. Since that time, I have held the positions of Interim Head of School, and then as the Head of School where I have served from June 2016 to present. In that time, we have accomplished so much together. We established new programs, events, and traditions. We have stabilized enrollment, increased fundraising efforts, and expanded the preschool program. These, among many other accomplishments, are things that I am very proud to have partnered with you in making a reality.

The Faculty and Staff are the heart and soul of Palm Valley School. Over these past years, I have witnessed them continue to gracefully rise to every challenge and task, bringing their passion for education, their knowledge of content areas, and best practices for students along with them. It is truly because of the work that they do each and every day that Palm Valley School is, and continues to be, the best PS-12 education available in the Coachella Valley. They are tireless professionals with loving hearts who hold the best interests of their students at the forefront of their work in all things and at all times. I am honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to learn from and work alongside them.

The school will continue to be stewarded by our Board of Trustees, led by Jennifer Jenkins as Chair, for the coming year. I am grateful for their continued vision, partnership, and support. The search for a new Head has already begun and I know that the leadership of the Board will masterfully handle that process with care and diligence. I have recently partnered with the Board to create a “Bridge Plan” for the next three years to follow the close of “Vision 2020” into the transition to new leadership and beyond, serving as a roadmap of the work ahead for to continue strengthening and embracing the ineluctable change and growth at Palm Valley School.

This is not yet goodbye, as I will continue leading Palm Valley School through June of 2020. I hope to have the opportunity to be with each of you this year to connect and celebrate, in person, the joys and successes of our community during our time together. Thank you for the honor and privilege of working with your children and your family. I am forever grateful.

With gratitude,

Susan Rice
Head of School


Dear PVS Families,

Palm Valley’s success in recent years can be attributed to a lot of things, the primary of which has been Susan Rice, our Head of School. Over the last five years, Susan has thrown herself into the school’s affairs with her high-level energy, unique leadership, knowledge of educational best practices, and strong drive to make the school an environment of excellence. In short, Susan’s contributions have been incredible.

Please join me in congratulating Susan in her appointment as the next Head of School for the Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, WA. As is the case with all good things, Susan’s time at Palm Valley will come to a close this spring.  This move will not only allow Susan to continue her successful leadership in independent schools, but will allow her husband, Tim, to resume a role within the Pacific Northwest area tech industry. Along with their daughter, Marcella, we wish them the very best in their move.

During her tenure, Susan worked on behalf of Palm Valley School to secure a full 7-year re-accreditation term with CAIS, completed many initiatives of the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan including work in curriculum, technology integration, diversity initiatives, and other impactful areas for students. We implemented many vital programmatic and curricular changes and improvements, increased our family giving participation by 30%, implemented a structured communications plan, expanded the Early Childhood Education program and continued to provide an exceptional learning community for hundreds of children and families in the valley.

In her final year, Susan will continue to work tirelessly to help our school achieve more significant academic, operational, and growth goals as well as play a key role in welcoming and transitioning operations to the new Head of School. Please join with the Board of Trustees and the Palm Valley community this year as we celebrate Susan’s leadership and contributions to our school community.

The Board of Trustees has already begun to identify the core characteristics vital in an ideal candidate for our next Head of School who will ideally embrace and enhance our rich community and culture. Palm Valley School boasts a beautiful campus in a wonderful enclave of California, complemented by a community of experienced teachers and staff who are deeply caring and committed to helping our children and families enjoy the best possible educational environment. 

We have already met with several top candidates and will continue to do so until we find the right person who embodies the vision, capability, knowledge, and passion necessary to continue Palm Valley’s cutting edge educational initiatives and supportive environment. We are looking for all the important characteristics of a dynamic Head of School: enthusiasm, kindness, rigor, honesty, and respect for our children, families, teachers, and staff. 

As we strive to teach and prepare our children for a productive life, we must acknowledge that change is a constant. This said, when properly managed, change can produce incredibly positive results. The Board of Trustees is committed to keeping all our families in the know, with regular updates as we progress toward finding a great new Head of School. With interviews occurring now and through the Fall, we will keep you informed. 

Thank you,

Jennifer Jenkins
Chair, Board of Trustees