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RCDS Appoints New Head of Lower School and Director of Curriculum

RCDS Appoints New Head of Lower School and Director of Curriculum

After an extensive search, The Rumson Country Day School announced the appointment of Lea Prendergast as Head of Lower School effective July 1 and Heather Parker as Director of Curriculum effective September 1.

Prendergast joins the RCDS community from Staten Island Academy (SIA), where she served as the Lower School Director since 2014 and led her division in making significant progress in curriculum and faculty professional development, among many other accomplishments. Prior to her service as Lower School Director, Lea was the librarian at SIA, and her previous experience includes working as an elementary and pre-K teacher in public schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Lea has a dual bachelor’s degree in education and anthropology from Hunter College and her master's in library science from Rutgers University.

Throughout the interview process, the RCDS search committee was impressed by Prendergast’s depth of relevant experience, energy, warmth, approachability, empathy, and her obvious passion for working in education and with children.

"The first thing that attracted me to RCDS was the people," said Prendergast. "Immediately, I
could tell that it is a warm and welcoming place where children come first and that is important to me. After happily working at a school for 19 years, I knew if I were to make a change it could only be to a place that genuinely embodies and lives up to the values of children coming first."

Parker, who will be joining Prendergast and the RCDS administrative team as the Director of Curriculum beginning at the start of the 2023-24 school year, drew similar observations.

“I was struck by the friendliness and openness of the community, especially the enthusiasm of the students,” said Parker. “It is clear that everyone at RCDS is truly living by the school’s Four Pillars – Kind, Honest, Responsible, Respectful. I’m excited to dig in and celebrate the great work already happening at the school and to continue to grow and serve the needs of the students and teachers.”

In addition to her role as Director of Curriculum, Parker is thrilled to return to the classroom to teach a section of 6th grade math. She is eager to apply her experience which ranges from working with children from lower school through high school, to best prepare RCDS students for what’s ahead.

For the past 11 years, Parker has worked at the King School in Stamford, CT as their Upper School Director of Teaching and Learning. Prior to joining the King School, Heather was a teacher in grades 1-3 at Mary McDowell Friends School in Brooklyn. In addition, she has experience working in summer programs at Phillips Academy and Fay School, both of which are in Massachusetts. Parker is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Middlebury College, where she was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa and holds an M.S.Ed. in Childhood Special Education from Bank Street College of Education. Heather's husband, Ted, is also an independent school educator.

Prendergast and Parker have already begun working with RCDS administration on campus this summer to ensure a smooth transition.

“I am thrilled that Lea and Heather will be joining the RCDS community and am confident that they will be assets to our School,” said Head of School Carson Smith. “Each of them brings a breadth and depth of experience that will doubtless benefit both RCDS and, most importantly, our students. Throughout the interview processes, Lea and Heather impressed faculty, staff, and parents with their knowledge and expertise, and they quickly formed meaningful connections with students and teachers alike. We are fortunate that they are joining our community."