New Head

Meet our new Head of School Dan Quesnel

Dan and his wife, Ellyn, of fifteen years are the parents of two children who both currently attend FCDS. Their daughter, Emily, is in the 7th grade and their son, Nate, is in the 5th grade.

Letter from new Head of School

January 29, 2018

Dan Quesnel, Oakwood's Next Head of School
Dear Oakwood Parents,

I hope this letter finds everyone doing well and looking forward to what promises to be a fun-filled spring semester at The Oakwood School.

Since my appointment in December to be the next Head of School, I have been excitedly taking advantage of every opportunity to make the transition next summer go as smoothly as possible both for my family and the Oakwood community as a whole.

From a personal standpoint, my family and I have made several trips to Greenville to explore the area, begin our search for a new home, tour the school, and allow my two future Eagles, Emily and Nate, to spend a day with some of their soon-to-be classmates at Oakwood. My kids love their new Oakwood and ECU gear, and we are all finding that the transition from Lexington Barbecue to Eastern Barbecue suits us just fine. The highlight for all of us though was definitely December 5 when Mr. Peterson held an all-school assembly welcoming my family and me, and I even got to take questions from the students.

From a professional standpoint, I have immersed myself in an effort to become even better acquainted with the Oakwood community and the many constituent groups that comprise it. During the interview process, I was struck by how welcoming everyone was and how much everyone I met truly cared about Oakwood and each other. It was this sense of community more than any other factor that drew me to Oakwood. I have visited many schools in my career, but there is a palpable sense of community at Oakwood that I have never experienced on any other campus. This sentiment was echoed by my wife, Ellyn, and our children after their first visits as well. As a result, my first priority has been getting to know the community in the time I have between now and July 1, so I can better understand what makes it so special.

In addition to the interactions I had with people during the interview process and at the assembly I attended, I have also been in regular contact with a variety of people at Oakwood, including your current Head of School, Mr. Peterson, and Board President, Randy Fry. Earlier this month, I was fortunate to attend a terrific conference with Mr. Peterson, Mr. Fry, and several other Board of Trustee members that was sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Independent Schools and focused on Board and Head transitions and retention. We also spent time with members of Oakwood's business office, who were there for their own separate conference.

In order to get to know the many people in the Oakwood community on a more personal level and let them get to know me better, I have planned several visits this spring to meet with small groups of constituents. Among the groups with whom I plan to meet are faculty, students, parents, Board members, administrators, and staff, and I am sure that list will grow. Many of these visits coincide with some of the great events that will be occurring at Oakwood this spring, like the musical Bye-Bye Birdie and the Blue Jean Ball Gala & Auction, while others simply work in my schedule.

The first of these visits will be February 18-19 when I hope you will join me as I hold separate Q & A parent sessions for each of the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools. The locations and times of those discussions are as follows:
  • Upper School parents -- Sunday afternoon, February 18, 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. in Tedder Library of Monk Hall
  • Lower School parents -- Monday morning, February 19, 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. in Extended Day Room of Monk Hall
  • Middle School parents -- Monday afternoon, February 19, 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Tedder Library of Monk Hall
If you are free then, please stop by so we can spend some time together before I officially start at Oakwood this summer on July 1. I know you are all very busy though, so if I miss you this time, I hope to see you soon.

Best regards,

Dan Quesnel

New Head of School Announcement

December 4, 2017

Dear Oakwood Community:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Head of School Search Committee, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Daniel P. Quesnel as Oakwood's next Head of School, effective July 1, 2018. The Search Committee is certain that Dan's commitment to the development of the whole child, approachable and engaging style, and independent school experience will position him to lead Oakwood with excellence into our 23rd year and beyond.

Dan has worked at Forsyth Country Day School (FCDS) in Lewisville, N.C. since 2007. Initially a Middle School teacher, coach, and the school's General Counsel, Dan has served as Middle School Director and General Counsel since 2013. Dan oversees the affairs and budget of the Middle School, which consists of 200 students and 29 faculty and staff members. In the past few years, he has assisted the Head of School with restructuring and revitalizing the school and growing enrollment after a period of decline.

During his 10-years at FCDS, Dan has implemented initiatives focused on academic excellence, global mindedness, and character development. He worked with administrators and department chairs on curricula review and development; designed and implemented STEAM-related electives courses; and worked with the school's academic center to ensure students receive appropriate services and accommodations. Dan created an annual two-week cross-cultural exchange with a school from China, as well as a Middle School trip to Europe. Dan serves as Chair of FCDS's AdvancED/SAIS Reaccreditation Committee and participates as a member of the school's Admissions Committee, Academic Committee, Professional Growth Task Force, and Philanthropy Committee.

As the school's General Counsel, Dan has worked closely with other administrators and the Board of Trustees in various areas of risk management in school operations, as well as employment, financial, and insurance matters. He is an advisor to the Head of School regarding student discipline and also serves as a member of AdvancED/SAIS visiting accreditation committees for other schools.

Prior to Dan's independent school career, he was an Associate at the law firms Wall Esleeck Babcock, LLP in Winston-Salem; Bell, Davis & Pitt, PA in Winston-Salem; and Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman, LLP in Charlotte where he practiced law for independent schools and business clients in corporate, real estate, financing, employment, and employee benefit matters. Dan received his J.D. at Wake Forest University School of Law in 1999 and his B.A. in Political Science at University of North Carolina - Asheville in 1996.

Dan and his wife, Ellyn, of fifteen years are the parents of two children who both currently attend FCDS. Their daughter, Emily, is in the 7th grade and their son, Nate, is in the 5th grade. In accepting this appointment, Dan said, "It was going to take a special opportunity at a truly exceptional school for my family to leave our home at FCDS. In visiting The Oakwood School and meeting the people here, it became quite clear what a special place Oakwood is. I could not be more excited for the chance to lead Oakwood and have my family become part of such a wonderful community."

Dan's unanimous selection by both the Search Committee and The Oakwood School's Board of Trustees was the culmination of a six-month process conducted in partnership with Wickenden Associates, a leading independent school search firm, whose fees were covered by an Oakwood donor. After conducting campus visits and an extensive community-wide survey, Wickenden launched a national search targeting nearly 150 educational leaders across the country regarding Oakwood's Opportunity Statement. Oakwood's strong reputation as a 21st century independent school serving eastern NC generated applications from 47 highly qualified candidates. The Head of School Search Committee pre-screened 18 short-listed candidates, invited nine semi-finalists to interview and tour the school over a long weekend in October, and conducted two 2-day finalist visits in October and November before ultimately reaching a unanimous recommendation to Oakwood's Board of Trustees to name Dan as our next Head of School.

I would like to personally thank The Oakwood School's Search Committee for their excellent work. Their commitment to this process allowed us to select a worthy successor to Rob Peterson, and we owe each of them a sincere thank-you for their time, effort and servant leadership on behalf of the Oakwood community.

Over the course of the next several months, a Welcoming and Transition Committee and our current Head of School, Rob Peterson, will work with Dan to ensure a smooth transition in leadership as he prepares to join us on July 1, 2018. Please join Oakwood's Board of Trustees in welcoming Dan, Ellyn, Emily, and Nate!

The entire Search Committee was mindful of the importance of this decision given the exceptional leadership displayed by Rob Peterson throughout his 10-year tenure with our school. We look forward to Dan's inspiring leadership next year as "we seek to instill in our students the strength of character, the creativity, and the wisdom to make a difference in the world."


Randy Fry
President, Board of Trustees
Vice Chair, 2017-2018 Search Committee

2017-18 Board of Trustees:

Randy Fry, President
Patricia Rawls, Treasurer
Ira Adler
Jason Barnett
Faye Bordeaux
Chris Dyba
Laura Hanley Davis
Joy Karriker
Linda Kuhn
David Lamb
Karsin Landis
Ogi Obi
Kim Sayers
Kelli Smith
Jim Whitehurst
Xiaoming Zeng
Rob Peterson, Head of School (ex officio)
Eileen Van Houten, Past President (ex officio)

Head of School Search Committee

The Oakwood School 2017-2018 Search Committee

Dave Hunt, Chair
Current parent, past Trustee, past Board President (2015-2017)

Randy Fry, Vice Chair
Current parent, Trustee, Board President (December 1, 2017 to present)

Ira Adler
Current parent, Trustee

Alicia Hawk
Alumni parent, past Trustee, past Board President (2009-2012), administrator (Director of Advancement)

William Monk
Advisory Board member, past parent, past Trustee

Ogi Obi
Current parent, Trustee

Jennifer Smith
Current parent, faculty, administrator (US Division Coordinator)

Sangita Tewari
Current parent, alumni parent, past Trustee

Jennifer Youngs
Current parent

Eileen Van Houten, Search Committee Advisor
Alumni parent, past Trustee, past Board President (2013-2015), 2006-2007 Search Committee Chair

Head of School Search Process

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