Head of School Search

In January 2019, Peter Bachmann announced that he will retire from his role as Headmaster on June 30, 2020. The Board Search Committee engaged the consulting firm Carney Sandoe & Associates to spearhead the search for a new Head. On September 27, 2019, Jim Pickett was named the new Head of School. Jim will begin his duties on July 1, 2020.

Two Letters to the Flintridge Prep Community

From David Codiga, Chair, Board of Trustees and Kris Leslie, Chair, Search Committee

Dear Prep Community,

We are pleased to announce to you today that, on the unanimous recommendation of our Search Committee, the Board of Trustees has selected Jim Pickett as our new Head of School, effective upon Peter Bachmann’s retirement on July 1, 2020.

Jim’s more than 20 years of experience at top independent schools across the country, leadership skills and vision make him the right person to lead Flintridge Prep. Since 2012, he has served as Head of the Upper School at Castilleja School in Palo Alto, where he oversees all aspects of the Upper School’s operations, including the hiring and evaluation of faculty, staff and administrators; academic and co-curricular programs and management of the budget. 

At Castilleja, Jim has guided major initiatives, including a redesign of the school’s schedule, improvements to Castilleja’s counseling and college counseling program and leadership of a school-wide task force on athletics. Prior to joining Castilleja, he spent 13 years at Cranbrook Schools in Michigan, where he was a member of the faculty, headed the boys’ residential program and served as Dean of Faculty and Special Projects.

Jim’s appointment follows a thorough and rigorous search process that considered many highly qualified candidates from across the country and took into account input from across our community. The initial outreach encompassed over 3,000 school heads and senior administrators, of whom our search consultants spoke to 75. Following a weekend of interviews in August with eight potential candidates, the committee invited three finalists to visit campus and meet with members of our community. 

The fact that so many highly qualified candidates expressed interest in leading Flintridge Prep reflects our strength as a school and as a community; we should all be proud of what we have built together with Peter’s incredible leadership. We believe that we will become an even more outstanding school for our students and our community as Jim builds on Peter’s work as a leader and educator over four decades.

We are fully confident that Jim will be able to rely on our entire community, including our faculty, administrators and staff, to facilitate a smooth transition and to help him succeed. Peter passes along the following message to our community: Please join me in warmly welcoming Jim Pickett as our next Head of School.

Although Jim will remain employed at Castilleja through June 2020, we anticipate that he and his wife, Susie, will make several trips to visit Prep before becoming Head of School in July. We will work to organize opportunities for the Prep community to welcome them, so be on the lookout for further communication on this.

We extend our deep gratitude to our entire community for your thoughtful input throughout this process. Since Peter announced his planned retirement as Headmaster in January, we have done our best to maintain a dialogue with you regarding our search process; you entrusted us with an important decision, and we could not have made it without your well-considered feedback at every turn.

As always, thank you for your dedication to Prep. We look forward to continuing to work together as a community to advance our shared mission and build upon the legacy of excellence created under Peter’s leadership.


David J. Codiga
Chair, Board of Trustees

Kristina Leslie
Chair, Search Committee 

From Jim Pickett, Incoming Head of School

Dear Prep Community,

Following the note you just received from David Codiga and Kris Leslie, I want to take a moment to introduce myself and to let you know how excited I am to join Flintridge Prep in July as Head of School. Because of the efforts you have made under Peter Bachmann’s leadership, Flintridge Prep is at an exciting time in its history with tremendous opportunities ahead.

I can’t wait to join you all and get to work to leverage these opportunities for the benefit of our current and future students. This includes maximizing the educational potential of our unmatched initiatives in STEAM, Leadership and Global Studies, which will grow even further with the opening of our Bachmann Collaboration Building this fall. I also believe strongly that the experience of “soulful adolescence,” introduced by Peter, that Flintridge Prep strives to provide is of growing importance in the increasingly stressful, competitive and impersonal world in which today’s students are coming of age.

The success of independent schools like Prep depends on having engaged parents, fulfilled students, passionate faculty, committed administrators and involved alumni. This community’s willingness to pitch in and take an active role in guiding the future of the school is the secret to the amazing position in which Prep finds itself today. As I accept this role, I know that I have taken on a tremendous responsibility: to maintain a legacy of 86 years. 

The dual meanings of the motto “Prep for Life” so perfectly encapsulate our work: both to nurture ethical foundations, emotional maturity and intellectual curiosity among our students to last a lifetime and to create a community to which we are all forever linked. It is a tremendous honor to lead this critical work.

Peter Bachmann has been a spectacular leader and educator at Flintridge Prep across four decades, and he has given all of us a solid foundation on which to build Prep’s future. These are big shoes to fill, and I am depending on every one of you to help guide me as I join the Prep family; I welcome your suggestions, your ideas and your feedback.

In the coming months, you should expect to see me and my wife, Susie, a fellow educator, around campus from time to time. We thank you for the warm welcome you have extended to us so far, and we look forward to returning the kindness and hospitality you have shown us as we integrate our lives into this community.

With gratitude,

Jim Pickett
Incoming Head of School, Flintridge Prep 

About the Search Committee

Kris Leslie, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and parent of Robbie ’16, Michael ’13 and Ryan ’11, is the Chair of the Search Committee. The other committee members are:

  • David Codiga, Chair of the Board of Trustees and parent of Hope ‘19, Sasha ’19 and Jackson ’15
  • John Wong, Jr. ’85, trustee and parent of Ethan ’21
  • Ken McCormick, trustee and parent of Charlie ’20
  • Janice Ohta, trustee and parent of Barrett ’15, Gareth ’15 and Isabella ’11
  • Jaynie Studenmund, trustee and parent of Connell ’12 and Scott ’08

Kim Kinder, Director of Finance and parent of Scott ’05 and Claire ’08, is the administrative liaison to the Search Committee.

About the Search Firm

After interviewing three firms, the Search Committee chose Carney Sandoe & Associates to manage the search for our next Head of School.

Carney Sandoe & Associates is an educational recruiting and consulting firm founded in 1977 with the primary mission of helping K-12 non-profit, independent, charter and like-kind (non-public) schools worldwide recruit and hire highly qualified teachers and administrators. The firm specializes in retained executive search and management consulting for educational organizations. Carney Sandoe is nationally recognized for their work, and Prep has used CSA to hire 22 faculty members over the last several years.

Our search consultants are:

Robert Fricker
In addition to his experience as a school administrator and school head, Bob has conducted searches for heads of school across the country as well as in California.
Email: bob.fricker@carneysandoe.com

Jennifer Wong Christensen
Jennifer has extensive professional background in both independent schools and colleges.
Email: Jennifer.christensen@carneysandoe.com
Bio: https://www.carneysandoe.com/team-member/jennifer-christensen


When will Peter Bachmann retire?

Peter will complete the 2019-2020 school year, retiring as head on June 30, 2020. He will continue to lead Prep until that day. Prep’s Board of Trustees and Peter have carefully planned the transition and have ample time to conduct a comprehensive search for the next head of school. As Head Emeritus, Peter will remain a part of the Prep community.

Who will conduct the search for a new head?

The selection of the Head of School is the single most important duty of the Board of Trustees. As is customary in independent schools, the Board has created a Head of School Search Committee comprised of trustees to lead the search process to find an inspiring, extraordinary leader.

The Committee, led by Board Vice Chair Kris Leslie, is working with Carney, Sandoe & Associates (https://www.carneysandoe.com), search consultants retained by the Board of Trustees to construct a process that results in an exceptionally strong appointment and engages the school community as much as possible without undermining the recruitment of excellent candidates. Carney Sandoe & Associates is a search firm with extensive experience conducting worldwide, comprehensive searches for independent school heads. Prep has used Carney Sandoe & Associates in searches for 22 faculty members in recent years.

How was the Board Search Committee formed?

Governance is a primary responsibility of the Board. As such, the committee is made up of trustees.

Kris Leslie, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and parent of Robbie ’16, Michael ’13 and Ryan ’11, is the Chair of the Search Committee. The other committee members are:

  • David Codiga, Chair of the Board of Trustees and parent of Hope ’19, Sasha ’19 and Jackson ’15
  • John Wong, Jr. ’85, trustee and parent of Ethan ’21
  • Ken McCormick, trustee and parent of Charlie ’20
  • Janice Ohta, trustee and parent of Barrett ’15, Gareth ’15 and Isabella ’11
  • Jaynie Studenmund, trustee and parent of Connell ’12 and Scott ’08

Kim Kinder, Director of Finance and parent of Scott ’05 and Claire ’08, is administrative liaison to the Search Committee.

How will the search process work?

Carney Sandoe & Associates is working with the Search Committee to understand the school’s culture and needs. In February, its representatives, Bob Fricker and Jennifer Christensen, will meet with a variety of community members. Shortly after that, CSA will conduct a survey of community members who were unable to participate in the on-campus meetings. The process will remain quiet as CSA and the Search Committee vet potential candidates. In fall 2019, finalists will be brought to campus. Throughout this period and through his transition to Head Emeritus at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, Peter Bachmann will continue his daily activities as school Headmaster.

Will the whole community be involved in the search process?

Yes. The whole Prep community, including faculty, staff, parents, alumni and trustees, will have the opportunity to participate in interviews and/or in a comprehensive online survey.

When will the new head of school be chosen?

Our goal is to hire a new Head of School in the fall of 2019 and have the new head assume responsibilities on July 1, 2020.

How can I stay informed about the search process?

Throughout the search process, the Search Committee will keep the entire Prep community informed with updates and information via email and on our website. Please understand that this process is not totally transparent because confidentiality must be maintained until the final candidates are invited to campus in fall 2019.

I would like to suggest a potential candidate or offer other input on the process. Who should I contact?

Please contact our search consultants at Carney Sandoe & Associates:

Bob Fricker– bob.fricker@carneysandoe.com
Jennifer Christensen – jennifer.christensen@carneysandoe.com

You can also communicate confidentially with the Board Search Committee Chair, Kris Leslie (headsearch@flintridgeprep.org).

Will internal candidates be considered for this position?

Candidates have been promised complete confidentiality. In order to recruit the very best candidates from anywhere in the world, our consultants need to be able to assure all candidates that their candidacy will remain confidential as long as possible, typically until the finalist round next fall. A detailed description of the position will be provided to the public in late February.

Who do I contact if I have other questions?

Kris Leslie, the Search Committee Chair, has set up a confidential email account. You can email your questions to her: headsearch@flintridgeprep.org.

Flintridge Preparatory School
4543 Crown Avenue La Cañada Flintridge CA 91011
Tel: 818-790-1178
Fax: 818-952-6247
Located near Pasadena and Los Angeles in La Cañada, CA, Flintridge Prep is a private independent, coed day school for grades 7-12.
  • NAIS
  • FAST
  • CSEE
  • Independent Curriculum Group
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